Destinations

Marrakech: where to eat, stay and visit

Hotels are multiplying on Marrakech's outskirts but the city's heart and soul are in the ancient medina.

By Brian Johnston
Marrakech medina
Marrakech medina (photo: Getty)

Where to stay

Villa des Orangers
The entrance to this 1930s riad is lodged unpromisingly between a tyre shop and a toilet shop, but inside it unfolds in a series of ornate courtyards shaded by orange trees and featuring Moorish-style plasterwork, fountains and two swimming pools. Its new fine-diner serves Moroccan- and French-influenced Mediterranean dishes.
6 Rue Sidi Mimoun, villadesorangers.com

Courtyard at the Villa des Orangers
Courtyard at the Villa des Orangers

What to do

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech
Morocco's rich cultural traditions and colours inspired the French couturier, who bought a Marrakech riad in the late 1960s. The bold palette of his botanical garden, Jardin Majorelle, has long been a city highlight; the new museum next door features Saint Laurent's creations and charts his influence.
Rue Yves Saint Laurent, museeyslmarrakech.com

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (photo: Getty)
Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (photo: Getty)

Hammams
Hammams are central in Moroccan culture, from simple baths to ornate, historical venues rich in tilework and stained glass. The ultimate Marrakech hammam is Royal Mansour Marrakech Spa, a modern masterpiece of marble inlay, dappled light and tranquillity. Move from warm room to hot room, lather up with black olive-oil soap, and submit to a Moroccan massage with argan oil.
Rue Abou Abbas el Sebti, royalmansour.com

Guided tours
Australian tour company By Prior Arrangement organises personalised itineraries in Marrakech, and elsewhere in Morocco, led by local guides. Specialist tours include culinary heritage, architecture, shopping and fashion. bypriorarrangement.com

Royal Mansour Marrakech Spa (photo: Leading Hotels of the World)
Royal Mansour Marrakech Spa (photo: Leading Hotels of the World)

Where to eat

Le Foundouk
The stylish terrace atop a caravanserai is challenging to find but its cocktails and French-Moroccan fare are worth the search. Order traditional tagines or seafood pastillas, or French favourites such as duck leg en daube or a selection of pastries.
55 rue Souk el Fassi, foundouk.com

Salt-Marrakech
Seasonal "new Moroccan" cuisine is served at this lantern-hung restaurant in a riad deep inside the medina. The five-course set menu changes frequently as Salt's visiting-chef program rosters the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi or Shane Delia in the kitchen. Reinterpreted dishes might include lamb shoulder with ras el hanout, prunes and apricots, or camel with caramelised fig and eggplant.
108 rue de Berima, salt-marrakech.com

Le Foundouk
Le Foundouk

Pâtisserie Al Jawda
Known as Chez Madame Alami after its owner, this jewel-like pâtisserie sits behind pink walls in the Art Deco neighbourhood of Gueliz, north-west of the medina. Traditional treats range from sesame-sprinkled half-moon cornes de gazelle to diamond-shaped makroudh stuffed with nuts, dates and honey. Almond kamoussa and super-sticky baklava are house specialties.
11 rue de la Liberté, al-jawda.com

Getting there

Airlines including Qatar, Etihad and Emirates fly to Marrakech from select Australian cities with two stops.

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  • Author: Brian Johnston