I’m going to be completely honest with you – Marrakech is not all that it seems to be on Instagram and social media. Especially those (like me) who only show the beautiful parts of the city and what it could be. Let’s start from the beginning.
We landed, and my first impression of Marrakech was WOW. This airport is LEGIT so pretty and grand! We proceeded to find a taxi outside of the airport where our first impression went down down hill. We came face to face with angry taxi drivers who are literally yelling and haggling you. I almost felt afraid for my life as one taxi driver became angry with me for not talking to him. It was quite confusing because you don’t know who is in charge, there were so many men yelling at the same time. Once we finally secured a taxi ($20 USD) we were on our way into the old city to our first Riad (hotel). Be warned, the old city is very confusing and google maps will not give you an accurate reading. As we exited the car, a few men came up to us trying to find out where we were staying. Again, warning signs going off in my head. They talked to our taxi driver and he told them what riad we were staying at. They asked us to follow them and they will take us there. We didn’t want their help and told them it was ok. But they insisted and so we just followed. Once we reached our riad, they wanted us to pay $5 EURO for helping us find our riad. UM, crazy. He was very persistent and we argued back and forth and he left quite angry as I only gave him $1 euro. I was afraid he was going to wait for us outside and jump us later. So we stayed in our riad for the rest of the night.
WALKING THROUGH MARRAKECH
Walking through Marrakech is like going back in time and experiencing the old world. The city is not in amazing shape and as you walk through the dusty souks, we were haggled by tradesmen left and right, calling us Korea, Japan or China. I wasn’t sure how to take that, but know there is a definite lack of education there. As a city they are going through changes slowly and have much to learn with tourism. As a tourist it will take you a day or so to get used to the people. They may come across as pushy, persistent and a little mean, but in the 6 days we were there, we came to the conclusion they are not harmful. They are just trying to make ends meet and don’t realize their communication is lacking.
One thing you will notice is the smell of gasoline from the mopeds as you walk through the city. They share the same sidewalk as you so you inhale it like you are breathing in air. That is the one thing I was truly not a fan of. And if you are vegatarian/vegan, you may want to brace yourself. You may come across a headless animal and it will shock and disgust you. But that is old world living for you. Heck, they still use donkeys to transport their produce. It’s sad, but it’s the way or the world.
As you can see our first taste of Marrakech was not so sweet. It was a culture shock for the hubby and I as I’m sure with many tourists coming into the city. And although it’s not as beautiful as you might see from the dusty shambled pathways, I think the beauty of this city is found within its pink burnt walls.
Behind a pink wall could be the most beautiful oasis you have ever come across. And if you ask me, the gem of Marrakech are the beautiful riads and hotels you will find in and around the city. We wanted our stay to be authentic, so we opted to stay in riads versus large hotel resort/spas. This was the best decision we made on this trip. 80% of our stay was just chilling in our riad, and taking as many beautiful photos as possible. We stayed in 3 total and each one had its own tranquil and unique vibe.
Oh what I wouldn’t do to have this as my home forever. If you know me, I am tile crazy and BE MARRAKECH has some serious tile game!
Upon our arrival we were offered mint tea and homemade biscuits. This was the first time I was introduced to authentic mint tea and it became my favorite thing to drink while were were in Marrakech. I wish we were allowed to bring home the mint leaves from the market, as I miss it so much!
After our delicious treat we were shown to our amazing Family and Friends room where they had two queen beds on either side on the top level. You need to climb a ladder to get to your bed. It made me think of the good ol’ cottage days and bunk beds, but so much cooler. Plus, how could you not love the tile patterns and the all around cool cozy vibes of this room. Thankfully, each room comes with AC cus it was scorching hot during our stay.
My favorite mornings were having breakfast by the beautiful pool. When you are surrounded by such beauty, it’s hard not to enjoy your tasty breakfast. The granola was super yummy and I loved the different jams available to spread on our toast. And of course the mint tea. HAHA.
And if you’re into their decor on the main level, then you’re going to love what they did to their amazing pink rooftop patio. The rustic bohemian vibes are 100 when you enter. This rooftop is beautifully put together and has a dining area, a hammock, day beds and a swing chair. What more can you ask for?
It’s quite hot during the day, but if you come back close to sunset, it’s perfect to get your chill on. I suggest having dinner there at sunset. We notified them ahead of time and they made an amazing 4 course vegetarian meal. We were lucky they served wine as many places in Marrakech do not. But make sure you ask for it chilled ahead of time!
This place is crazy popular, there were so many visitors coming in and out just wanting to shoot there and it was booked up each night. You can book them via their website. I believe they are also part of air bnb, but I was not able to find their listing. BIG THANK YOU and SHOUTOUTS to BE MARRAKECH for turning our travels around and being amazing hosts during our stay at their beautiful riad.
We found this gorgeous riad via Air Bnb (check the listing here) and fell instantly in love with the look and feel of the interior. It was around $75 CAD per night, very affordable.
The hosts, Julien and Francoise were very friendly, acommodating and helpful. They treated us like family and I couldn’t be more thankful for all they’ve done. Long story short, before landing in Marrakech, I found out I left my contacts in New York. I messaged them and asked a recommendation for an optical place and they promptly responded with one. You don’t understand how important it was for me to have my contacts, I would have had a horrible trip without them. Not only that, they were helpful in setting up and giving us details for a desert trip where we later decided to forego. You can tell how much they care for their guests and for that they have become a favorite Air Bnb host.
Not to mention, their riad is a beautiful oasis and so fun to shoot in. They have zero noise from the street, air conditioning in the room (a must!!!) and three amazing terraces.
We absolutely loved taking sunset pics on their rooftop. It has an amazing view of the old city and the mountains!
Breakfast was included in our stay and you can ask them to make you a traditional moroccan dinner should you wish to stay in. However, we happened to have found a lovely rooftop terrace with good food close by, per their recommendation.
The riad is walking distance to the souks, the fruit market and spice market. Very convenient! I highly recommend staying with them, you will love it here. You may also book RIAD DAR KLETA via their website.
RIAD JARDIN SECRET
Our last riad on this trip is the stunning RIAD JARDIN SECRET, a luxury riad in the heart of Marrakech.
Their interior aesthetic is on point and I absolutely love the intricate details throughout. Our bedroom was cozy, clean and spacious. The staff were friendly and attentive. And I have to mention, we really loved the two adorable friendly puppies, they just brightened up our day!
This was on the top end of our budget at $220 CAD per night so we were a little surprised they did not provide air conditioning for the rooms. I understand they wanted to create an authentic experience, but air conditioning should be a staple in every riad/hotel, especially at this price point. We needed to leave our window open for the night air and so that left our room exposed to anyone walking by. One other thing is that they are beside a mosque and we were woken up at 5am every morning. The praying lasted for 45 minutes and you can imagine with the window being open this was quite frustrating. It put a damper on our stay as it was not the best nights of sleep. This is not audible in other riads, as they have air conditioning and your window would be shut.
Aside from that, the service was superior and the food was delicious. We loved chilling in their beautiful private patio while having a mint tea or coffee.
We dined under the stars in their “treehouse” on the rooftop terrace. It was a picture perfect sunset dinner.
Although this riad is luxurious and gorgeous, it’s the little things that count. I think if AC was included, I’m sure we would have had a better experience.
WHAT TO DO, PLACES TO VISIT IN MARRAKECH
There is much to see and do in Marrakech and if you love to see the sites, I have included some to do’s below.
1. Walk through the souks on your way to Jemaa el-Fna (a popular large square filled with small merchants, hawkers and entertainers) and buy some souvenirs and spices. You will see many textiles and hand crafted items. I was able to purchase some unique moroccan pillow covers for my home. I wish I could have walked away with a rug, but it wouldn’t fit in my suitcase. Sigh!
2. Book a some time at the spa and experience a HAMMAM. I was not aware of what this was when we booked it, but it was a bit of a shocking experience as you are hosed down in a hot stoned room and they use these special gloves to exfoliate (or rather rip) your skin. But my skin came out baby smooth after haha. Don’t do it with a friend unless you don’t mind seeing each other naked. LMAO.
3. Visit Ben Youssef Medrasa. The detail in architecture is just amazing.
4. Visit Dar Si Said Museum.
5. Visit the Saadien Tombs, a burial ground before the Saadien period and rediscovered in 1917.
6. Eat at La Table du Palais. The food was delish and the interior is tile heaven!
7. Visit El Badii Palace, the remains of a 16th century palace whose garden walls and ornamental orange orchard still stand.
8. Eat at Kafe Merstan, a local eatery with good food, and good views of Marrakech.
9. Eat at Terrasse des espices. It’s a favorite restaurant for tourists since they serve both american and traditional eats.
10. Visit Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden in the city.
11. If you have time to spare (like 4 days) then do some glamping in the desert! Unforunately, we weren’t able to, but if we visit again, this is top of the list!
Hope I haven’t missed anything! You better believe that a MARRAKECH VLOG on MY YOUTUBE is in the making! In the meantime, I hope you were able to take ideas from this blog for your upcoming travels to Marrakech!
Next up- my Marrakech outfits!