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Travelogue

Marrakech, Morocco 2010

Where to Stay | Excursions | Must Dos | Drinking & Dining |
Misc. Details
| Shopping

WHERE TO STAY

Riad El KsourRiad El Ksour
If 3 nights or longer, book this private riad (www.hipmorocco.com/riad.php?id=92). We always stay here. It’s nicely renovated, two bedroom, rooftop terrace, fireplace, owned by two men in the arts from London. Rate includes daily maid who makes you breakfast. It’s in the medina, which we prefer for local colour, but easy to find (important!).

Also, right next door to Richard Branson’s sisters riad/hotel, Riad El Fenn, so you can go there and lounge on their rooftop when you’re too lazy to make your own mojitos. Aziz manages the property. He’s great, super charming and helpful young French Moroccan. His email is aziz_amazigh2000@yahoo.fr. View photos, read what others had to say and find out more about Riad El Fenn at hipmarrakech.com.

Dix Neuf (www.dixneuf-la-ksour.com). Just up the street from Riad El Ksour. Beautifully done and really well located in same part of the medina (AKA: the edge, so you can find where you live).

EXCURSIONS:

La Pause
Have a look at this www.lapause-marrakech.com/indexUK.html if you want to do something really cool (romantic au deux or avec kids). In the lower Atlas mountains, an hour from Marrakech. Includes a sunset camel ride.

Essaouira (es-oh-were-ah)
3 hours away by car (or perfectly fine A/C bus). Great little surftown / fishing village on the coast, picturesque, walled in old fort / medina with groovy shops and little local café and bars, laid back, like Marrakech Lite.Hendrix wrote Castles in the Sand here, etc ... they even have a ‘hash’ souk. Chill.

Jack's Flats
He has many. E60 to E90 a night. They’re groovy/boho. You want the one below and, if it’s taken, then one that’s high up (3rd floor), overlooking the ramparts and the ocean.

MUST DOs:

HammamHammam: Best place is Bains de Marrakech (www.lesbainsdemarrakech.com/spa-en.html). Clean, unisex, great massage. Book a hammam for two, with wash + salt scrub, then a massage. Book early enough in the day that you can lounge by their pool afterward. Book ahead, like a week, they book up. More expensive that some local options but above program, 3 hours, would be E90 for both of you, tops. So worth it. There’s also a very nice hammam in Essaouira, owned by jack's wife. And you get a discount if you stay in one of his flats.

Dinner in Jema El Fna Square: the whole thing is taken over by kiosks and morphs into a giant food court from 7 – midnight every night. Crazy scene, lots of fun, scented steam and smoke wafting in the air, locals and tourists downing all sorts of Moroccan dishes.

DRINKING & DINING

Café de la Poste, the best cafe in Gueliz off Mohammed V, any cabbie or local knows where this is, just ask. Great for afternoon drinks and people watching under whirling ceiling fanson the gorgeous plantation-style veranda. They do free snacks, ala Milano, between 5 and 7, so nice pit-stop for late aft cocktails. Montgomery lives at Café de la Poste.

Kechmara's shaded rooftop terraceKechmara (www.kechmara.com) 3 Rue de Liberte just off Mohammed V (the main drag) in Gueliz (the modern part of town outside the Medina). Lovely groovy boite owned by cool 30-something couple from Bordeaux, Laeticia and Arnaud. This is nice little hub of boho expats. Good food, live music (sounds dubious, but isn’t) on Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Open for lunch as well on nice shaded rooftop terrace.

Right up the street, on the other side of Mohammed V, is Cafe du Livre, full of books and magazines, much in English, with a cozy cafe-restaurant and good coffee. You find it by entering the courtyard of a cheap, well known hotel, The Talousain. The cafe it's off to one side on the second floor (44, rue Tariq Ben Ziad; patio de l’hotel Toulousain, 024 43 21 49; (www.cafedulivre.com)

Karobase is also in Gueliz but harder to find. (Angle rue du Capitaine Arrigui et rue du Drâa;+212 5 24 42 28 08). Sleek, tiny little all white place with great lunch and perfect staff. Best salads in town, I think.

Spice market in MarrakechIn the Medina, is Terrace de Spices (www.terrassedesepices.com) a lovely, large rooftop terrace with view over the souk, no alcohol, but great food and atmosphere, generally busy for lunch, nice for dinner too if you can get through an evening meal sans vino (We can't...). Below this is Laeticia’s (from Kechmara) handbag shop Lalla (www.lalla.fr). Rida would find some nice things there. Harder to find, but you can pay one of the children a few dirhams to take you there from the main square if you have the name and address written down. They also have Cafe de Spices (75 Rahba Lakdima) on the spice souk, also cool too (www.cafedesepices.net) with tables right on the spice market square.

Kosy Bar overlooks a palm-lined plaza, Place des Ferblantiers, casual local spot, popular with everyone, serves good sushi (as well as Maroc-Asian fusion. Head for the rooftop terrace, afternoon or evening, always bustling.  47 Place des Ferblantiers, Kzadria, Marrakech; (+212 (0)524 382929)

Azar (www.azarmarrakech.com) is new in Gueliz and does Lebanese food, high design with a bar in the basement. Good people watching, lots of stylish locals and ex-pats.

Bo-Zin, this is the super chic institution in Marrakech for dinner, indoor outdoor with lavish gardens, and an Indochine kind of vibe. The night to go is Friday, make a late reservation 10:00ish, then stay all night for the post midnight drinks.

Le Foundouk. A riad eaterie with a sophisto feel, good cocktails and Moroccan/Mediterranean fusion food. Nice if you want a bit of a chic local dining experience. 55 Souk Hal Fassi, Kat Bennahïd, Medina, Marrakech. (+212 (0)524 449635)

Bab Hotel: Same owners as Café de la Poste and Bo-Zin, has a scene-y lobby lounge and rooftop bar. Fun for cocktails.

If you want to go dancing /out late, then Theatro on a Saturday night, between 1:00 and 3:00. This is the city’s old time night spot, not as flash as Silver and Pacha and all the city’s new offerings, but that’s why we like it better. They have a crazy fire show on the stage of the old theatre that houses the club. Once when I was there they set the curtains of fire but no one noticed or stopped dancing. Every taxi driver knows where Theatro is. I think it's the oldest club in town.

Tatchibana (tatchibana.free.fr) is the best sushi place, but hard to find (38 Derb Bab Ksiba, About 65ft from Bab Ksiba in the Medina; 024 38 71 71). Too bad Tatchibana closed its doors in November 2009. Luckily Kosy bar does a good sashimi.

MISC. DETAILS

  • There are two types of taxis— Mercedes which charge twice and aren’t worth it and jalopies, which are cheap and perfectly fine.

  • The local wine to down is called grise (pronounced ‘gris’ like french for gray) a blend of white and rose.

  • Trains are fast and regular, it’s a cheap, easy trip to Casablanca, or Fez, for instance, if you have time...

  • Helpful site: www.madein-marrakech.com -  has details and photos with addresses and numbers for all good things in the city.

  • Buy a Lonely Planet guide, really helpful with maps etc when you're trying to wind your way through the medina. Also, just to have addresses on hand to show your cabbie or to search out a place for a drink or something to eat in whatever souk your in. Or even simply find whichever souk (hand bag souk, leather souk) you’re looking for.

  • Souk Prices: It’s half whatever price they first give you. Walk away if they haggle too much. There are 70 places all selling the same things, they’ll run after you and give you the decent price. If not 50%, then 60% of whatever they initially said is not shameful tourist rip off.

    One great score are the leather bags, the English patient style weekenders, EU50. Also, the curtain tiebacks = stunning.

Shopping:

Laeticia (Kechmara) tells Gwyneth Paltrow and SJP where to go. She’s a professional shopper. She has a good friend who makes lovely kaftans and tunics, I can’t remember the name of the shop—but it’s right by Kosy Bar. They stock some nice, more modern versions of such items in good fabrics. Locals love rayon for some reason so hard to buy tunics from them.

"Bon Voyage" 

Minnie & Montgomery