What: Frieze Art Fair & Teatime Where: The Rosebery, London…
What: Insider-Tips for Eating, Drinking, Shopping, Sightseeing
Where: Marrakech, Morocco
My first encounter with Marrakech was 22 years ago. Back then, I shot a report for the TV channel Premiere (now ‘Sky’), about a gigantic luxury villa in the Palmeraie, which is owned by the fashion designer Giorgio Armani and has already been rented by movie diva Elizabeth Taylor. Idyllically located, beautifully furnished, with a pool in the garden and a view of the Atlas Mountains and the adjacent property of Yves Saint Laurent. Marrakech has always had a special fascination, prominent names like old-rocker Mick Jagger and style icon Diana Vreeland have left their marks here. I fell in love with this city and, since then, have always returned enthusiastically. Recently this past Easter weekend.
Now is the perfect time of the year for a break in the city of cultural contrasts with its African, Arab and Berber traditions: during the day the sun warms (if it comes out) at 25 degrees Celsius – then the day can already start with an open-air breakfast. The best way of doing so is on a roof terrace with view over the rooftops of Marrakech. For example, in the Riad El Cadi, a with Moroccan antiques decorated boutique hotel, which is run by the Berliner Julia Bartels. She inherited the complex of seven houses of her father, the former German Ambassador of Morocco in 2003. And this is how a lawyer became a hotelier. Riad El Cadi is located in the exciting Medina but is still an oasis of calm. For something a bit more luxurious, I recommend the Riad El Fenn, that was opened in 2004 by the art ambitious founder of Marrakech’s Biennale, Vanessa Branson – sister of the millionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson – and is one of the most popular tourist attractions.
Marrakech has become a true oriental fairy tale, especially in the old city, the medina, which labyrinthine streets invite more to random findings rather than targeted searches. My tip: Invest in a guide that leads you through the souks. Inform yourself in advance of destinations and addresses and what you want to see. Whoever has the time, can just drift. This is the best way to explore the Medina and surrender to its charm. One of my favorite places in the souks is Rahba Kedima. Here, the dealers present basket- and leather goods, spices and argan oils and provide mediums against mosquitoes, moths or sleeping problems. At the end of the square lies the famous Café des Epices, opposite is my favorite, the Nomad, on which you can enjoy the best lunch on the roof terrace. Underneath is a pretty and small shop, where modern design and ceramics are sold.
Also, the carpet dealers’ neighborhood lies adjacent to the Rahba Kedima square. If you wanted to buy a carpet, a Beni Ourain for example, you should definitely compare the prices. For me, the best of all carpet dealers are the Soufiane brothers. Hidden, so that you can hardly find them on your own, you call beforehand and arrange a meeting point. Entering Soufianes house, you have arrived in paradise of carpets: antique and new Berber carpets or Soufianes own carpet design – the prices are fair and the goods will be delivered right to the front of your door.
In Marrakech a day goes by in a flash. Suddenly it’s time for a sundowner, and that I recommend on the rooftop of the no longer new, but still wonderful Kosybar at Place des Ferblantiers. Here, one is closest to the snowy peaks of the High Atlas and meanwhile can watch the storks that have built their nests on the ancient walls of the city. More romance is hardly possible.
It’s also romantic in the evenings at the restaurant Dar Yacout. A legend in the Marrakech-gastronomy, mainly due to the pretty interiors designed by Bill Willis. However, the food quality is not really in the price-benefit-ratio. (Menu 700 DH = 70 Euro per person). For someone who likes it a bit more down to earth, hip and trendy, I suggest the Le Jardin to enjoy delicious chicken skewers (110 DH), grilled sea bream (150 DH) or lamb tajine with prunes (120 DH). Who can’t get tired of shopping can find here on the 1st floor at Norya Ayron individual caftans and beautiful clutches, the perfect outfit for Marrakech’s nightlife. This, however, mainly takes place in the New Town, Guéliz – but this another fairy tale from 1001 Nights. BvH
Marrakech – the Pearl of the South
An oriental Fairy Tale
Shop’til you drop
Best Tour guide for the Medina with its attractions and the Souks is Achmed: +212-661088938.
You should know that the guides like to show you shops, where they are involved in sales
All roads lead – in this case – to Djamaa El Fna , the square of the hanged , where the exciting nightlife of Marrakech awakens at nightfall latest. Tip: If you get lost, simply ask for “La place” …
24 Db Amseghi Sidi Ishak
Riad El Cadi
86/87 Derb Moulay Abdelkader, Dabachi
Marrakech +212 5243-78098
32 Route Sidi Abdelaziz
79 Sidi Ahmed Soussi