Marrakech is one of the few far flung places I dreamt of going to as a child. Perhaps it’s because Aladdin was one of my favourite Disney cartoons, perhaps because I absolutely adore Orientalist paintings – it doesn’t matter – I had a very romantic view of Marrakech, from its bustling marketplaces to its many serene riads tucked away in the city.
It was also billed as one of the top cities in the world to visit on Trip Advisor, and many of our favourite TV chefs seemed to have such a great time in it that we were very excited to finally visit it.
To be perfectly honest, we were both slightly disappointed when we finally got there. The old city itself isn’t that big, so there’s not much to see. It’s also very polluted and crowded – this, combined with the broiling heat in the day, made it difficult to enjoy.
Nevertheless, there were still many nice things about it. The architecture – the sun baked mud walls that make up the maze of the city – is as gorgeous and intriguing as I imagined it.
The little shops and tea rooms were full of life at its rawest, and the marketplace where vendors sold everything from mass produced doo dads manufactured in Turkey to ‘Persian’ carpets actually made in Pakistan was a scene right out of the movies.
In Marrakech, both locals and tourists mingled in the streets, however, vendors always knew who to harangue, and that really killed the vibe for me.
We did find a couple of lovely stalls worth visiting though, although you’ll have to sniff them out for yourselves. Mostly, we had a great time sniffing out spices and indulging in colourful sweets!
The famous food market which becomes incredibly alive in the evening and stays that way well into the wee hours is one of those places that has been featured so often on television that we couldn’t help but feel compelled to have at least one meal there.
The food’s good – it’s hard to beat a middle-eastern barbecue, but, like so many things in this city, I feel it has lost its authenticity.
That said, there’s plenty of other fantastic restaurants in the old city and on its outskirts that are really well worth visiting, so you won’t be disappointed if you’re a foodie.
Having a dinner not inside the old city will also give you an excuse to see a little bit of Marrakech outside the ancient walls of the Medina. I think it’s worth heading out for sure, to get a feel of what modern Marrakech is like.
My favourite place in the Medina was the riad we stayed in, Riad Slitine. We’ve stayed in lots of beautiful places, but this was definitely up there for exclusivity, charm and comfort.
I loved many things about it, but the one thing I really enjoyed was the inner courtyard filled with palm trees. This place, with its authentic vibe and gorgeous architecture really made my visit to Marrakech.