– Yves Saint Laurent
The scents of fresh Mediterranean food and spices linger in the air, as you enter a world that’s equal parts both whimsical and glamorous. Named El Hamra (The Red City) because of the way the afternoon sun reflects upon the clay walls, Marrakech is a city whose colours inspire those who are seeking an escape.
From Henri Matisse, Jacques Majorelle, Josephine Baker, Edith Piaff, and of course, Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech has been infamous over the years for attracting the world’s most creative souls.
A place for lovers of art, design, and of all things beautiful – the alleyways and hidden labyrinths of the city are blissfully intoxicating to the senses.
To me, Marrakech feels like a world where there is always more beyond what we can see with our eyes. It’s where I went when I needed to listen to my nomad spirit. It’s also where I learned to surrender to the endless possibilities of courage. It was a place where I went to, when I needed to reinvent myself. It has now become one of my favorite places to take my clients who are seeking creative inspiration and wish to join my nomad escapes.
From unexpected hidden riads and restorative hammams to my favorite dining spots and shopping gems that blend artisanal and elevated design for a delightful stroll, allow yourself to immerse in the vibrant world of Marrakech with our Nomad Voyageur Guide below.
The Nomad Marrakech is a 4-story restaurant set on top of an old carpet store. It boasts one of our favourite rooftops in the city (and with a name like Nomad, how could it not make the list?). It’s perfect for taking in the ethereal backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. Try their infamous Nomad Burger – made with spiced lamb, sautéed eggplant, and kale and harissa mayo. You’ll thank me later!
Terrase des Epices
Another one of our favorite places to dine under the Moroccan moonlight is Terrase des Epices. All the locals recommend the Tanjia Marrakchia, a Moroccan delicacy, which is a meat stew slow cooked in a clay pot, with a delicious blend of lemon and spices. In fact, this dish is so popular that the restaurant recommends you order it in advance of your reservation. Due to Morroco’s strict alcohol laws, it is one of the few places where you can order a drink.
I’m always on the lookout for the perfect backdrop to catch up with my girlfriends. And Kabana provides just that. Set in a leafy oasis, and with a breathtaking view of The Koutoubia Mosque, you dine on fresh Mediterranean cuisine for breakfast and lunch, snack on sushi, sip on specialty cocktails, and even dance to the DJ sets as you watch the sun go down.
If you’re feeling fancy and in the mood to play dress up, spend an evening at Le Palace. Located in the exclusive Hivernage district of Marrakech, Le Palace is a 1920’s Art Deco inspired restaurant, cigar lounge, and cocktail bar. Le Palace is perfect for that special occasion, or a glitzy evening of people watching the who’s who of Marrakech.
The sister restaurant to Nomad Marrakech, and with design inspired by the 1960’s and 70’s heyday of the city, Le Jardin is like a secret hideaway, tucked inside a lush garden surrounded by majestic buildings and terraces. It’s actually one of my favourite places to take my guests when they join my exclusive retreats. Choose from a variety of Moroccan classics – from marinated sardines from Essasouria, vegetarian couscous, or our personal favourite – chicken tagine with olives. But the dreamiest part? Le Jardin sets up an open air projector and plays classic films that you can watch under the stars.
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good Shakshuka, and luckily Le Kilim makes one of the best. Set in vibrant Guéliz, Le Kilim’s decor is modeled after a 1960’s Moroccan Medina, and is now frequented by many celebrities and artists. Enjoy caviar toast, eggplant with herbs and spices, and falafel sandwiches on Le Kilim’s terrace, and follow it up with a glass of wine from their award-winning wine bar in the evening.
Enjoy a leisurely lunch underneath a canopy of lemon trees. From fresh seasonal vegetables paired with homemade sesame and zaatar crackers, focaccia pizza with pesto, and a gorgeous tiramisu with orange blossom – La Famille is a must-try in Marrakech. And if you’re anything like me – lunch has to be paired with shopping. Pay a visit to La Famile’s boutique to shop unique accessories and jewelry crafted by local artisan, Stephanie Jewels.
It’s time to unwind after a long day of strolling and shopping underneath the heat of the Moroccan sun. I love staying at Berber Lodge, which is situated in an old olive garden, away from the medina. It was built by local craftsman who used resources from the hotel’s land. Adobe briques are made from the land’s earth, terracotta tiles are custom made from a neighboring village, while eucalyptus, atlas, wild bamboo, and cedar trees line the lodge’s ceiling. You can feel the spirit of Wabi-Sabi everywhere. Take a few laps in the lodge’s swimming pool and enjoy silence and tranquility.
The Tarabel is really something special. If you’re a design lover like me, you’ll appreciate how The Tarabel combines both Moorish and Second French Empire architectural style. Each room is truly a journey back in time – complete with old photos, prints, and antique bird cages, which all pay an homage to the golden age of Marrakech.
Now, if you want something that’s more in the heart of the action, see Riad 42. The modern and minimalist design elements are a stand out, and you’re only a ten minute walk from Souk Semmarine!
The Riad Yasmine is a little piece of lush paradise located in the center of the Medina of Marrakech. Lounge on the wicker chaises by the green tiled pool, or take The Riad Yasmine up on its private walking tours through the Medina.
Situated near the spice market and Medersa Ben Yousef, The Riad Dar Kawa was built at the start of the 17th century, and restored in 1999. Today, Dar Kawa’s motto is “An Invitation To Let It Go”. Sip on a mint tea in their beautiful courtyard or terraces that fall underneath the shade of orange trees, let the day completely go, and let the rest of the evening unfold.
Another one of my favorite stops to stay is the Riad Sakkan, located in the hip and bustling area of Moussaine. The Sakkan is warm, inviting, incredibly creative, and offers a beautiful terrace. Each of the Riad’s 12 rooms are designed in a completely unique and eclectic way. One of my favorite suites? The Junior Suite, which has a camel leather floor and walls decorated in black tadelakt.
As the evening sun begins to set, the enchanting hums of prayer service begin. To me, this is Marrakech at its most captivating, immersed in its colors and vibrancy, awakening all your senses. At the rooftop of Hotel El-Fenn, you can take in the sights and sounds of The Red City’s Golden Hour while sipping on refreshing cocktails with a Moroccan twist, all while experiencing the immaculate vibes created by charming and friendly waiters dressed in red.
The Spa By Beldi
An absolute must visit – it’s hard not to fall in love with everything that the Beldi Country Club has to offer. Situated right in the middle of a rose garden, The Spa by Beldi offers traditional facials, manicures, and pedicures. But we love their traditional body wraps. Choose from a clay and rose treatment, or ghassoul from the Atlas mountains mixed in with mint. It’s where I go before and after my retreats to recharge myself.
Entering the Royal Mansour from the citrus garden is like entering a mini piece of paradise. Morocco is famous for their beauty treatments, and the Royal Mansour is the perfect place to experience them.
Start by immersing yourself in the traditional baths of the hammam. Then, enjoy a variety of classic Moroccan beauty treatments like black soap wraps, kessa glove exfoliation, and floral steams!
One of my favorite ways to feel grounded is to lose myself in a garden. The Jardin Majorelle is perfect for when you want to carve out a little time for yourself to escape the hustle and bustle. In 1922, French painter, Jacques Majorelle created this large garden as a sanctuary and botanical “laboratory”. He then began to fill it with plants from around the world. Then, in 1980, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé purchased the garden to save it from being destroyed by hotel developers. Now, the garden with its enchanting labyrinths and mystical alleyways are open to the public.
After your visit to Jardin Majorelle, take a stroll over to the Musée Yves Saint Laurent for some creative (and some shopping) inspiration. I love how Marrakech became a peaceful refuge for Saint Laurent, as he ended up designing most of his collections there. Now, the museum holds 250 pieces of the entirety of YSL’s collection, which rotates every four months.
It’s time to immerse yourself in the history of African art and culture. One of the first of its kind in Africa, The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Madeen is a place that visitors might not always put on their map, but one of those places to visit if you want to escape the crowds. Opened by art collector, Othman Lazraq, MACAAL is a beautiful cultural hub (non-profit contemporary art museum) that brings a voice to both emerging and established artists, and gives a variety of different types of African art a home. I was so lucky to see the temporary exhibit of one of my favorite artists, Joel Andrianomearisoa, while I was there.
Travel back to the 1800’s, and fall in love with the House of Photography of Marrakech. A true hidden gem, this quaint museum is a journey back in time with photographs and other artifacts of Morocco that date back to 1879. Through newspaper articles, glass plates, and postcards – you’ll leave with a deeper understanding of Morocco’s rich history.
Moro Marrakech is a concept store located right on Rue Yves Saint Laurent. A home to so many talented Moroccan designers that I love to explore, Moro Marrakech sells everything from clothing, beauty, jewelry, to homeware – all made by local Moroccan artisans. I discovered this beautiful space in my last trip.For perfume lovers, you have to check out their specialty fragrances created by The Morrocans.
I always love gifting my friends unique, hand-crafted artisanal pieces from my travels, so you’ll understand why I completely fell in love with LRNCE. Founded by Laurence Leenart from Belgium, LRNCE is a Marrakech based ceramics and textiles company, with Western influences, that attracts visitors from around the globe. LRNCE’s ceramics and textiles come in a variety of different styles, guaranteeing that you’ll find something for your design taste. The geometrical patterns and prints on pieces are inspired by the shapes of Marrakech. Our current favorites? These Mouja Plates.
One of my favorite moments and that’s always a must – is shopping at Soufiane Zarib. Soufiane Zarib sells handwoven wool, silk, and cotton Beni Rugs and Tuareg Mats from Morocco, Persia, Turkey, and the Caucasus. You can also find contemporary high-design homeware. One goes in for rugs, but of course, I couldn’t resist buying one of the jumpers the staff and owner wears with such style.
If you’re in the market for specialty glassware to spice up your kitchen, you’ll love Azalai Nomad Living. Azalai is owned by Khouloud Belkahia, who used to own a traditional glass-making factory in Morocco. Now, Belkahia owns Azalai, a curated home goods store that sells modern Moroccan glassware (think handmade bowls with a neon green glaze) and other unique decor pieces.
A multidisciplinary art space, Le 18 was founded by artist Laila Hide. Le 18 was actually a place that held the city’s art scene together during the pandemic. Now, the three-story riad encourages artists all over the world to join their community of rotating films, performance art, and photography.
We’re paying another visit to the Beldi Country Club, but this time, it’s for The Souk. In its own quiet garden, the Beldi Country Club’s Souk sells everything from rugs, cushions, pottery, and even a bakery that sells bread made from Beldi olive oil. You can even take a pottery class here to learn the art of pottery.
Marrakech is a beautiful maze of labyrinths and hidden treasures. Whatever it is that you are searching for – from inner stillness, to a creative reset, or a fresh, new beginning – I hope that Marrakech will be that place for you, just like it was for me.
I can’t wait for you to explore all the Red City has to offer.