Marrakech
Overview

Marrakech, a former Berber imperial city and a modern day Moroccan magic carpet ride, is a sensory explosion steeped in colorful culture and brimming with of-the-moment energy. It is a brilliant juxtaposition of influence – both French and Arabic are widely spoken, Moorish architecture meets with Art Deco details, posh cafes and avant-garde galleries line the streets alongside minaret-ed mosques and secret gardens. An exotic assortment of experiences awaits beyond the fortressed walls of the Medina, or old city, from sumptuous Hammam spas to maze-like souks to by-appointment-only boutiques to hidden lounges where you can rock the kasbah till dawn (like Victoria and David Beckham did recently for his 40th). Drawn by the heady allure of its hedonistic roots, this place is a sartorial style mecca for a certain type of beautiful boho girl – think Sienna Miller or Poppy Delevingne (Miss P even held a second wedding here with a guest list including all of her fashionable besties–Alexa Chung, Matthew Williamson and a smattering of aristos). They journey in the footsteps of their idiosyncratic Red City loving predecessors - 60s It Girl Talitha Getty and party boys the Rolling Stones among them. Hollywood is beckoned yearly by the Marrakech International Film Festival, where stars like Marion Cotillard, Eva Mendes and Bill Murray walk the red carpet. Perhaps no event drew more celebs (Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Adrien Brody and Jennifer Aniston) in recent years that the re-opening of La Mamounia, whose interiors were overhauled by Jacque Grange of Parisian Hotel Costes fame. This grande dame is the most glamorous spot in town, and along with the Amanjena and Royal (and we do mean royal – it’s owned by King Mohammed VI himself) Mansour, help Marrakech offer more over-the-top luxury than many cities triple its size. 

Mystical moments arise around every corner of this city’s circuitous streets, and just wandering can feel like a dream in itself. At the center of town you’ll find Jemaa el-Fna, once the busiest square in Africa, still maintaining heavy foot traffic due to its UNESCO World Heritage status. It is the symbol of the city and a great place to start soaking up the sights, smells and taste of Morocco – just beware of the snakes, monkeys and camels that hawkers will ‘offer’ to you. Make your way to the souks, a treasure trove of interconnected alleys and shops, each specializing in a particular product (jewelry, poufs, carpets, olives, chillis, perfumes, leather, fruits, nuts, clothing), and get ready to hardcore haggle as you should only be paying 10-25% of a vendor’s initial offer! While the new, new thing can be found in the neighborhood of Gueliz, we still have a few shops we must stop at in town, such as Bouriad Karim for kaftans (a Calypso supplier!), after which we refuel with divinely delicious Moroccan dishes such as tagine and traditional mint tea. For the stylish set, no trip is complete without a pilgrimage to Jardin Majorelle, once the home painter Jacques Majorelle, it was lovingly restored and lived in by Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Berge. Its villa and botanical garden are set almost entirely in a cobalt blue hue, which is sure to inspire you for years to come. If your fantasies are more far-flung, head to the nearby Atlas Mountains for a stay at Kasbah Tamadot, owned by Sir Richard Branson (sister Vanessa also owns El Fenn, an uber understated and terribly chic accommodation option in town). Now hop back into this decade – nights out come in Marrakech come courtesy of hip restaurants/bars, where the international elite congregate – Le Comptoir and Bo-Zin both belly-danced their way into our hearts.  

A trip to Marrakech is certainly a chance to sport your ethnic threads, but please don’t take it as license to dress the part of crop-topped Princess Jasmine – Morocco is a Muslim country and, as always, local customs should be respected. During the daytime in spring/summer, a Vita Kin kaftan couldn’t be more apropos – it is both demure and playful. In fall/winter’s cooler months, a Talitha fringe jacket with wide-leg Alexis pants will look the part. Bring lots of pashminas for chilly nights and visits to holy sights – extra points for accessorizing with a Missoni turban! For dinner at Dar Yacout (Poppy’s personal fave) and a nightcap at La Mamounia’s sophisticated Le Churchill Bar, we would choose a D'Ascoli printed dress and a Paula Mendoza bracelet. We don’t want this fairy tale to end – yalla, back to magical Marrakech! 

 

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

DINING 

If a restaurant in Morocco ran exclusively by women werent reason enough to put Al Fassia at the top of anyones list, maybe a refined authentic menu featuring mouth-watering tagine and couscous might be. Located in the chic neighborhood of GuelizAl Fassia promises a superb meal in a cozy atmosphere (think: plush cushion and warm-hued walls). The favorite hotspot of the French and Moroccan A-List, Bô-Zin is a glamorous restaurant and lounge bar set in a beautiful tropical garden just two miles south of Marrakech. Expect international cuisine with a menu that is a unique fusion of French, Moroccan, Thai and Japanese flavors. It’s best to come here later in the evenings (especially on the weekends) when the long bar area turns into an impromptu disco. Soak up some glamour at Azar, where youll find a restaurant, terrace, bar and club under one roof. An ancient foundouk transformed into a stylish dining den with a cosmopolitan vibe, Le Foundouk serves tasty French-Moroccan fare accompanied by great cocktails. Come pre- or post- dinner and dress to impress at Palais Jad Mahal, drawing a mix of expats, good-looking locals and stylish tourists. The emphasis is less on the food and more on the colorful venue that dazzles with its dark décor and amazing entertainment. Occupying the former residence of Pierre Balmain, a plush 19th  century riadDar Moha features a superb menu by Morocco's foremost celebrity chef Mohamed FedalSnag a table by the pool for the five-course feast highlighting the Moroccan sweet-savory obsession. Located in the bustling Medina, Nomad is a chic rooftop eatery where a French 60s feel meets modern Moroccan influences.

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The modern Moroccan fare could not be more fitting to its spice market location, with a menu rooted in local produce and exotic spices. Succumb to the rural charm 20-minutes outside the city at Touco, a bohemian gem that's as authentic as it gets with a local street food experience run by the residents of the nearby Tassoultante Village. Deep in the medina, the five-course dining experience at the luxe landmark Dar Yacout is an absolute must. Dress elegantly for the most romantic restaurant in Marrakech, Le Marocain at La Mamounia, where the cuisine is as authentic as it is delicious. 

NIGHTLIFE

When the sun goes down, possibilities are endless in this magical city. From chic lounges to cool cabarets, the Red City is home to eclectic night caps no matter your flavor. For a more low-key Arabian night with some post-dinner drinks, Le Comptoir hits the spot (especially on a Saturday) with funky music in a gorgeous setting. It's where thwell-heeled locals come to play, attracting a ritzy clientele to the place resplendent with black and red tadlekt walls and a slinky grand staircase littered with pink rose petalsThe glam Marrakech eatery Le Palace becomes a late-night lounge scene that's guaranteed fun with nightly DJ's and a dance club(If any clue to being a hot spot, Hannah Bronfman and Brendan Fallis kicked off their iconic wedding weekend with a welcome party here!). For a more wild-night-out, party with the posh at Pacha, the sister to the iconic Ibiza club. Another grand Ibiza-style club with weekly-theme nightsTheatro Marrakech is a dance oasis with techno DJs. 

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Explore

Explore

A city of exotic vibrancy, Marakkech offers endless experiences for magical moments to be had. Travel back in time with an afternoon stroll to the 11th century World Heritage Site UNESCO Medina, Jemaa el Fna square. It's a carnival of local life, where you'll be welcomed by snake-charmers who will drape a snake over your shoulders for a few dirhams (and will cost you a few more to have it removed), and where you can get lost wandering the winding souks, tanneries, and labyrinthine streets. Escape from the hustle and the bustle of the city (and the heat!) to the lush Jardin Majorelle – originally created by painter Jacques Majorelle, and later restored by fashion designer and long-time Marrakech resident Saint Laurent. And his legacy continues to live on with the brand new Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech just steps away from the garden. See the spectacular interiors of the 16th-century Koran school, Ali Ben Youssef Medersawhere up to 900 students would have lived and studied. One of the most beautiful palaces (and one of the best-preserved historical sites) is the 19th-century Palais Bahiawhich was intended to be the greatest palace of its time and capture the essence of Islamic and Moroccan styleAuthentic experiences can be had: from learning how to cook the best tagines to visiting a Berber village at the base of the Atlas Mountains and sharing a mint tea with a Berber family. Venture out of Marrakech for some day trips to the mystical Blue City, Chefchaouenand the coastal city Essaouira where you'll be able to spot Spain.  And if you're in for a real adventure, head to the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, Zagora Desert, or Erg Chigaga dunes for an insta-worthy sunset & sunrise camel trek.

SHOP

Where to Shop

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Marrakech is a fashion fantasylandsilk caftans draped at every turn; heaping piles of silk slippers fill warehouse-size markets; artisans stooped outside their shops with hammerstransforming tarnished silver into statement necklacesBring your best bargaining game to the medina, where the word 'biseff' will quickly become your best friend – as it translates to "it's too expensive". The medina is souk after souk, a true maze of a marketplace, where you will find tiny, open-fronted stores that sell the dreamiest of finds. The mini-market just off Rue MouassineSouk Cherifa, is the go-to for younger and edgier Moroccan designers. Don't miss the personalized baskets from Original Marrakech or the embroidered kaftans from Akbar DelightsThe best chunky, bold Berber-inspired jewelry can be found at Magasin Berbere in Souk Labbadine. For a curated mixture of locally crafted accessories, clothing and furniture (hello, gorgeous ottomans and throw pillows!), head to Atelier Moro. If you're in the market for the best leather slippers and sandals, Ahmed Ait Taleb has an endless selection of exceptionally made shoes. Handmade traditional clothing that manages to be both rustic and chic at the same time can be found at Bouriad Karim

But beyond the bustling souks, there's an even more secret shopping meccawith curated concept stores to by-appointment-only home décor havenswhere you'll score even better pieces with none of the chaos. A Moroccan version of Colette in Paris, 33 Rue Majorelle is an absolute must-visit concept store that features local contemporary designers and a radiant selection of authentic Moroccan goods. The intimate showroom V. Barkowski from the Belgian designer and creative director Valérie will have you leaving with sumptuous tasseled bath towels and a hand-embroidered duvet cover. Head to the second-floor atelier Topolina tfind flattering feminine silhouettes and signature tribal-print loafers. Max & Jan is an expertly edited mecca for resortwearjewelry and accessories  and is the ideal spot to scoop up toned-down caftans that can be worn on the reg. Candy-colored loafers plus every hue imaginable can be found at Atika 

Shop the Destination

Marques’ Almeida Point-toe bird-jacquard backless loafers $375.00
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Adriana Degreas Striped self-tie blouse $349.00
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Adriana Degreas Two-tier striped wide-leg trousers $605.00
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Clergerie Idalie raffia slides
$350.00
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Illesteva Dorchester aviator-style gold-tone sunglasses $190.00
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GANNI Ipanema shirred halterneck swimsuit $170.00
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GANNI Wrap-effect Floral-print Washed-silk Midi Skirt $475.00
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Alexander Wang Alexander Wang Amelia Leather Stud Slippers $595.00
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Tabula Rasa Ottoman cutout open-knit maxi dress $695.00
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Saint Laurent Lily cat-eye frame acetate sunglasses $240.00
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Muuñ Lou floral-print and woven-straw bucket bag $190.00
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Haight Maria one-shoulder bikini $195.00
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Mara Hoffman Athena lace-up cotton dress $425.00
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Solid & Striped The Josephine triangle bikini top $86.00
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Solid & Striped The Josephine belted high-rise bikini briefs $86.00
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Reinhard Plank Hats Rox raffia-knit headband $137.00
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Three Graces London Georgianna striped linen dress $785.00
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Maison Michel Henrietta straw hat $709.00
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Elizabeth and James Johnson aviator-style rose gold-tone sunglasses $215.00
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Vanda Jacintho Chunky chain-link necklace $624.00
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Alexandre Birman Clarita bow-embellished suede and raffia sandals $620.00
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Sylvia Toledano Evil Eye malachite and gold-plated cuff $210.00
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Adriana Degreas Striped pineapple-embroidered dress $996.00
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Missoni Mare Zigzag knitted turban $246.00
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Norma Kamali Belted jersey maxi dress $395.00
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Glorinha Paranagua Sorrento Bamboo Tote $550.00
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Vanda Jacintho Embellished disc earrings $436.00
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D’Ascoli Flamenco floral-print and embroidered cotton dress
$319.00
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Cecilie Bahnsen Astrid puff-sleeved cotton top $585.00
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Wai Wai Maloca bamboo-cage bucket bag $1,028.00
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Zimmermann Prima polka-dot linen dress $530.00
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Rhode Resort Sitara slub-silk robe
$332.00
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