Most travellers come to Marrakech hoping to find exotic-looking people, ornate palaces and treasure-filled souks. They want to take a magic carpet ride into the world of the Arabian Nights - and to be able to buy the carpet afterwards. Amazingly, Marrakech manages to live up to this fantasy. Read more
The magic of Marrakech has a lot to do with its setting. It lies at the foot of the High Atlas, on an ancient trade route through the Sahara. You can feel the energy of Africa in the Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech's main square. For almost a thousand years the square has played host to a nightly carnival of singers, tumblers, sorcerers, herbalists, story-tellers and snake charmers. Overlooking this vast open-air show is the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, the highest and most beautiful building in the city.
Then there are the souks. You can wander down miles of labyrinthine passageways, illuminated by shafts of sunlight, watching cloth dyers, wood carvers, jewellery-makers, leather workers and blacksmiths at work. There are temptations on all sides; Touareg jewellery, trilobites, spices, apothecarist’s potions, colonial bric-à-brac, colourful slippers, silk tassels, hanging lanterns, leather bags, wicker baskets and yes, carpets, in every design and colour.
Away from the medina is another Marrakech. The peaceful Majorelle Gardens, beautifully restored by Yves St.Laurent; the splendidly over-the-top Bahia Palace; the ancient medressa of Ben Youssef; the fashionable shops, bars and restaurants of Guéliz where you can sip a cocktail surrounded by a crowd as hip as any to be found in Paris or London.
Many visitors choose to stay in one of Marrakech’s many riads, traditional courtyard houses in the medina. Alternatively, you can head for one of the many modern hotels in Guéliz or the Palmeraie. Further afield is the Marrakech countryside, home to some of the city’s smartest hotels and hideaways. Staying in the Marrakech countryside means a more relaxing lifestyle, fabulous views of the mountains and quick access to Marrakech when you need it.
"Exotic-looking people, ornate palaces and souks straight out of Aladdin’s Cave!"