A Traveller’s Guide To Marrakesh
Seasoned travel writer, Chloe Sachdev, shares her insider guide to Marrakech.
A captivating vibrant city, steeped in culture and history, Marrakech is known for its riad-style architecture, traditional hammam spas, botanical gardens, art museums and French-Moroccan cuisine. “It’s where Yves Saint Laurent learned about colour and the Rolling Stones found enlightenment.”
As one of our favourite holiday destinations, we’ve collaborated with seasoned travel writer, Chloe Sachdev, whose words have been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and The Telegraph, to share an insider’s guide to Marrakech.
Here, you’ll discover Chloe’s recommendations for the best hotels to book, rooftop bars to order from, museums to visit and the hidden gems you might not have heard of.
“Where to stay”
Artist Laurence Leenaert, known for her playful wiggles and squiggles on ceramics, furniture and clothing, has recently opened her first hotel, Rosemary and the 5-bedroom riad is a bricks and mortar work of art. Part of the space is also dedicated to a salon and dining room, so keep an eye out for masterclasses, dinner parties and talks held by the local creative community.
When most people think of Marrakesh’s enduring appeal, they often turn to El Fenn. On the edge of the medina, and 20 years since it first opened, it still has one of the best rooftops in Marrakech for sundowners and louche dinners. The hotel also just finished a final expansion, which includes an updated spa.
This 8-bedroom modern maison is all smooth lines and curves and pitched parallel to Jardin Majorelle Gardens, Villa Oasis and Musee Yves Saint Laurent. A new hotel space, Riad Brummell, is also set to open in a couple months with a similar modern aesthetic but right in the medina.
A stylish villa that’s suited to those travelling in larger groups or with families. Owned by style maven Carmen Heid, it’s filled with her exacting taste in vintage and furniture (and the views across the mountains are an added bonus). Heidi also has a nearby black and white pop-up space, Atelier Meyer, which from the outside looks like a very chic circus tent and offers a curation of second-hand clothing and trinkets.
About 45 minutes outside of the medina, on an olive farm and surrounded by mountains, you’ll discover Farasha Farmhouse, which feels more like a club-space or art gallery. Fitted out with pieces from local creatives, there’s giant woolly art installations, shaggy mid-century rugs, a 50m pool and sun lounges. They also host a weekly program of live events, performances, hypnotherapy and mini festivals.
“What to see and do”
Undeniably one of the must-see attractions of Marrakech, the YSL Museum was designed by Studio KO and is home to thousands of YSL’s pieces from his career – from original sketches to final haute couture pieces. If you feel like splurging, you might also opt for a visit to his private home and gardens, Villa Oasis.
This little museum inside the botanical garden, Jardin Majorelle, explores the extraordinary talent and creativity of the Berber community, through artefacts, clothing and collectibles.
Although it only opened in 2019, MCC Gallery has become one of the best modern art galleries in Marrakesh, with exhibitions by some of the top contemporary and of-the-moment African artists. Their staff will also be able to recommend any off-site exhibitions or must-see installations.
An ancient ornate palace with a beautiful Islamic garden, this living museum inside the medina is one of the most incredible gardens in the city.
A beautiful garden with rose beds, water and cactus gardens and a contemporary art gallery. Owned by Abderrazzak Benchaabane, an ethnobotanist, perfumer, and garden designer, the gallery mostly comes from his own private collection. A local and living legend, he also played a hand in restoring the Jardin Majorelle at the request of Yves Saint Laurent.
“Where to dine”
For a no holds barred romantic dinner in an old Marrakshi palance, Dar Yacout is fitted with jewel-toned and candle-lit rooms and patios and serves a set course traditional menu. As an insider tip, arrive for sunset and enjoy a cocktail on the roof terrace before sitting down at your table. (And when making your reservation – ask for a table in the courtyard by the pool).
Located next to a petrol station 20 minutes from the medina, you’ll find this no-frills roadside institution that’s famous among locals for its tagines, wood fired bread and delicious chips.
Designed by architects Studio KO (the very same behind the YSL Museum), this female-run Moroccan restaurant in Gueliz serves up modern twists on traditional brochettes, tagines and tanjia.
One of the more popular spots in the medina, this is a great go-to if you’re after a low-key restaurant with a terrace. It serves a crowd-pleasing mix of western and Moroccan flavours and has a concept store downstairs that stocks hair and face oils made by a local women's cooperative.
This Australian-owned restaurant is perfect when you need respite from the heady flavours of the city. They are known for their schnitzel with mint slaw, roasted sweet potato salad and fresh cocktails and wine.
An old pétanque social club which is now an in-the-know ‘social club’ in Gueliz. It’s eclectic and vibey with original 1930s architecture and vintage furniture mixed with excellent modern art. It also has one of the loveliest courtyards in the city and the menu is heavily inspired by modern Marrakesh and the freshness of LA. Unfortunately, to request a table you’ll need to be referred by a friend of the club… but it’s worth trying your luck and sending them a friendly DM on Instagram.
When you’re looking for something light yet fresh, visit La Famille. An oasis in the medina, you can dine on a vegetarian menu of dips, pizzas and pastas in the leafy courtyard under lemon trees.
A delicious lunch spot which is run by a not-for-profit organisation who provides support to women who have suffered from domestic violence and are reentering the workforce. If you’re also interested in trying a cooking class, this would be a great one to sign up for.
“Where to shop”
Every neighbourhood has at least one, and they each specialise in herbal healing and self-care products from the Berber people. Think: spices, tea, hair and skin oils.
One of the coolest concept stores in the medina, Moro offers a curated selection of clothing, accessories and homewares. Nearby, you’ll also find, The Moroccans, a cult beauty and candle label from the same team.
Artist, Laurence Leenaert, is a shining star on the contemporary art scene and she has her own boutique and workshop here in Marrakech. She produces a range of handmade lifestyle products, interior decorations and accessories. (She’s also the mastermind behind the Rosemary hotel).
Contemporary custom-made Beni Rugs are designed and produced all under the one roof in their Marrakech studio – and they’re one of the few vertically integrated rug studios in Marrakech. While you can place an order online, it’s well-worth a visit just to see their rugs during production.
This studio and cafe from artist Hassan Hajjaj, who is often dubbed ‘the Andy Warhol of Morocco’, is a fun, colourful space with floor-to-ceiling pop art. You can also find Hajjaj’s kitch-y concept store and gallery in the medina.
This women-led studio is known for their contemporary and traditional one-off designs with eclectic prints, colourful designs and artful details.
This retail space offers a modern take on hand-woven and made-to-order traditional kaftans and Djellabas (Moroccan robes). It’s also worth stopping by their atelier to see the weavers at work.
If you would like to support the city of Marrakech following the September 2023 earthquake, please consider the following organisations:
Provide essentials including food, clean water, shelter and medical supplies to those affected by the earthquake.
Help provide education to young girls living in rural Morocco, including boarding accommodation.
Focus on planting trees for farming communities, sourcing clean water, preserving cultural practices and histories and empowering women of all ages.