Where we stayed, where we ate and what we did...
I've wanted to go to Marrakech for years, and last September Rakesh surprised me with flights for my birthday. I remember I got up and hugged him for ages. I'm not actually sure on what drew me to Marrakech but I remember Sex and The City the movie having something to do with it.
We went for four days and it was plenty enough time as I found the city to become quite stressful, I heard that a lot before getting here and I shrugged my shoulders and thought that people were probably over reacting. There's only so much pestering a person can take. That wasn't the only stress for me though, the main one was the amount of motorbikes and scooters in the small alleys. They shouldn't be allowed, I know there's some parts where they're not and I found that to relax me a bit.
Once I was on a rooftop away from the pestering, it was something else. It's great really, there's a rooftop cafe/restaurant almost everywhere there. We actually didn't get to see some of the main attractions which I always feel a bit gutted about, such as Ben Youssef Madrasa... we could only see the outside as we tried twice to find the entrance and couldn't.. ha.
I would recommend visiting if you've been meaning to for ages it's a lovely place but we wouldn't rush back in a hurry. Going in March is a perfect time because it wasn't too hot. We had around 25-28C in the day time to 14-16C in the evening and it was a good temperature. In the summer it gets to 40-50C and the locals say it's way too hot for us British folk. The best bit of this trip was that bread and olives came with or before every single meal... I love bread a lot but since we have returned we've given up bread (I wonder who will break first..)
Stay - Riad Up
We rushed to book our first riad because we thought we had left it very last minute but I am glad I told Rakesh I wasn't happy with our first decision and we booked the riad I had been eying up from the beginning, Riad UP.
We chose the option to get collected from the airport as we heard Marrakech was like a maze, the driver took us to how far the roads went and then a guy with a trolley took our bags and showed us to where we were staying. I remember just trying to take it all in just incase we had to go back this route on our trip, trying to remember all the little details. Located down a dead end alley way and behind a big wooden door was UP also known as Urban Paradise. Inside was a well thought out space, a courtyard with an assortment of furniture, plants in massive terracotta pots and a dipping pool.
Our room was the perfect size and was decorated to a minimal. Rakesh described it to not have much personality but I disagreed. The room had colourful furnishings such as the coolest bright patterned rug, paintings and the wooden window shutters added enough personality for me. The bathroom was all grey and I found it to be super relaxing, with dim lighting and music playing.
On the next floor up was the roof terrace which literally took my breathe away, a lot of sun loungers and seating areas. We came up here every afternoon just as the sun was setting and as it was getting cooler. The second time up here we came to notice we could order beer and wine which made the trips to the roof top even better after a long day exploring the souks. Every morning we were made a super tasty breakfast of Moroccan crepes, thin slices of bread and a selection of honey, jams and fruit. This to me was such a good breakfast, filling us up until lunch time!
Thanks for a wonderful stay, UP. (We'd recommend booking through their website directly... here)
Eat - Zwin Zwin Cafe
We came across this gem because they liked one of my Instagram photographs I had taken whilst in Marrakech and I'm so thankful they did. They have three floors the third being the pretty pink roof terrace! We actually caught a bit of sun here which was nice.
We were tempted into lunch with their small-ish but tasty sounding menu so went for the mini burgers, veal, beef, chicken and tomato and mozzarella. The meal came with salsa and potato gratin.
We enjoyed this place so much that we returned the same evening for late night beers, Moroccan soup and ending the day with a fresh pot of mint tea. Watching the sky get darker from the roof terrace snuggled up in blankets just talking was a very enjoyable moment of the holiday.
Eat - La Famille
We were recommended this place by our host on our last day and we wish we came across it sooner because it's an absolutely stunning outside cafe/shop. Seating areas scattered round a beautiful garden... I'm in!
We came here within an hour of eating our breakfast and could not resist their vegetarian lunch menu. We went for the pizzeta and the tuna and humous dips w/thyme and salt bread. One of our favourite lunches of the trip!
We loved their little homewares store, so many things we could have came home with if we had the space but in the end we settled for two glass mugs that we had tried and tested perviously at lunch. (When we got home and made tea one of them did break which was a huge shame!)
Eat - Le Jardin
We wasn't going to vist this place as the menu didn't scream at us, but we stumbled across it in our last few hours in Marrakech (whilst trying to find the entrance to Ben Youssef) and decided to "just got for a drink".
If you know us, you'd know that we can hardly go for "just a drink" especially if the menu gets us feeling a bit peckish. We went for these filo pastry triangles filled with cheese, mushroom and spinach which were tasty and the Moroccan soup which wasn't tasty atall. We found their soups to be quite flavourless.
Eat - Nomad
So Nomad in Marrakech is all the hype, when I say hype I mean because it's probably the most decent looking restaurant in the city of Medina.. It's true it is quite fancy compared. We went there for dinner but didn't make a reservation so had to be seated inside which was probably the better option as it was a bit chilly outside.
To start we had the mezze plate of the season and a pastilla which were okay but I think we both prefered the mezze plate. For main I had the lamb tagine and buttery barley which was very different to my usual choices (it was very hard to resist the lamb burger and fries!). I thought it was nice
however I don't think i'm a huge fan of tagines because they're rather sweet tasting.
We went back one afternoon to check out the roof top and had a few beers, the most touristy places are where you'll find beers (Casablanca being their local beer, and it was gooood!)
I had seen these beautiful gardens all over Instagram before even booking our trip and we just had to visit. Such a lovely place! We paid 70 dirhams to view the gardens and spent a few hours here, you can pay an extra 30 dirhams to view the museum aswell.
Do - Jemaa el-Fnaa
This is a huge square and market place in Medina (old city). It's used by locals and tourists and filled with stalls selling orange juice, henna tattoos, food and souvenirs.
We found this area to be quite stressful, the first day I had a lady grab my wrist and start doing henna on me... but I didn't realise until I had it almost to my elbow! She then went on to say 5 dirhams! good luck good luck! but I politely declined. We didn't enjoy the men with monkeys, those poor poor monkeys!
So we braved it and ate at the Jemaa el-Fnaa one night, of course Rakesh was being so persistent and I couldn't keep saying I was unsure about it, so we went!
We took a few laps before we decided but it's so hard to decide when all these men bombard you with "come and try my mums cooking" "please sir, sit sit!" etc etc. We sat down and was handed some bread and some salsa and then ordered mixed kebabs, we chose veg, chicken and lamb. It all tasted nice to be fair but after we had finished we did the "let's take an Imodium just incase - face".
Do - Bahia Palace
We couldn't believe this place was only 10 dirhams to visit, it was beautiful. The colourful tiles everywhere and little courtyard gardens.
There was an exhibition going on I believe but I regrettably didn't catch the name. Different pieces of art in all the different rooms. The ceilings were something spectacular.