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Strolling through Marrakesh

Where to stay…

There are many luxury hotels in Marrakesh, but when I arrived to La Sultana, a chic riad steps from the Medina, I felt like I had traveled back in time. This quintessential Moroccan house is comprised of five different riads, all beautifully appointed and an oasis of peace.

Riad, meaning garden, is most easily identified by the presence of a central courtyard with a pool and garden flanking the four walls and upper terrace.

My friend and I were greeted by the loveliest staff and after a quick tour; they escorted us to the rooftop for what I only could describe as a feast for the senses. If it wasn’t for the aroma of spice I might have been too distracted to eat, between the near by mosque’s call to prayer and the view of the city and Atlas Mountains in the distance.

Our lunch consisted of colorful and delicious small plates of traditional spreads and Moroccan salads perfect for the warmer temperature. Sometimes a table filled with amazing food is better than a 5-star room in a luxury hotel.

After lunch our room was ready and it was definitely worth the wait! As we approach the beautiful glass door we could see the intricate work on the large staircase in our foyer leading us up to the gorgeous “Jaguar” suite. The interior, artfully decorated with colorful ornate chandeliers, marble and crafted wood, was just as breath taking as our views from our two different terraces over looking the courtyard and pool.

During our trip we had lunch and toured two other luxury properties.

The famous palace hotel, La Mamounia has been hosting royals and celebrities for generations. The gracious staff and attentive service is the epitome of hospitality.

The sprawling gardens filled with orange trees and ancient olive groves awaken your senses as you stroll the grounds.

From the four restaurants offered, we chose to dine at Le Pavilion de la Piscine for Sunday brunch, definitely a hot spot and a place to be scene. This gourmet buffet is served poolside, s great spot to lounge and enjoy the sun, while savoring a delicious meal and a couple of glasses of wine.

Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot, a luxury retreat near the Toubkal National Park, features views of the Atlas Mountains. The location is much more serene and secluded. We dined on the outside terrace overlooking the beautiful pool and property.

If you have ever wanted to try “glamping” this property also offers 10 luxurious Berber Tents, some even include private plunge pools!

For the more active traveler needing to up the cardio. Hiking, biking, or horseback riding tours through the mountain range can all be arranged from here as well. Perfect for any Outdoor Enthusiast.

Wellness Warriors…Make sure to pamper yourself at any of these three properties’ tranquil luxurious spas. I promise you won’t be disappointed; everyone needs down time on vacation!

Standouts from our trip

We hired a private guide and driver during our stay, to escort us to the best attractions and shops. It also gave us a sense of security knowing we wouldn’t be bothered or hassled when walking through the Medina, the city center made up of a labyrinth of alleyways filled with enticing merchandise and food.

Watch out for pickpockets, around the famous Jemaa El-Fna Square. This enormous square on the edge of the Medina comes to life, especially at night. (Pedestrian only/ No cars after 2:00pm.) Snake charmers, musicians, fire jugglers, performing monkeys, and kart wheeling acrobats, fill the street- there is something happening everywhere you look in this fascinating city and it is easy to get distracted.

Just outside the Medina you will find the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and the Jardin Majorelle. The museum showcases many couture creations honoring Saint Laurent’s love of the city, “Marrakech taught me color…” The garden’s captivating palate of bright blue and yellow dominate the landscape, filled with succulents and palms. Don’t miss the exquisite but small Berber Art Museum displaying costumes, jewels, craftwork and musical instruments of the Berber people.

Stroll through the Palais Bahia and enjoy gorgeous architecture filled with intricate latticework, colorful mosaics, and vast courtyards all exemplifying Moroccan royalty…every corner is Instagram worthy, so get your camera ready!

Good news- you do not need to travel to the Sahara to ride a camel! Just outside of Marrakech is the Agafay Desert. Enjoy a camel ride with a private guide, followed by musical entertainment while watching the sunset, ending with dinner beneath the stars. A nice contrast from the hustle and bustle of the city and a bucket list item for sure!

What to buy…

Carpets, jewelry, leather goods, argon oils, and saffron are just a few items to look for. Having our guide was definitely helpful in knowing which places to shop. The highlight was having a mini lesson on looming and purchasing a couple of handmade rugs.

Helpful Tips-

Marrakech is a Muslim country so you’ll need to cover up. Respecting local and religious traditions when traveling is important to ensure not to offend local customs. Which begins with dressing modestly and keeping your knees and shoulders covered.

Look out for locals on the street trying to offer directions. They will ask for money in return, so politely decline and move along- even if you are lost.

Remember to always use your right hand when you’re interacting with people or eating. The left hand is considered unclean.

Carry cash when shopping through the Medina. The currency is dirhams, which is 11 to 1 American dollar. Also never pay the asking price, bargaining is part of the fun!

You will hear a flurry of languages, but French, Spanish and Arabic are most common. It was important to me to learn the word shucran, which in Arabic means thank you. Typically when traveling, I pride myself on being able to have simple communication.


Dressing for the weather while respecting the culture can be difficult but for my ladies a simple scarf and flowy pants or my favorite, a beautiful kaftan, makes you feel elegant and dressed for all occasions. For the men, long pants are custom, so keep the shorts at home.

Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen- always a must for this Irish girl. I find a cross body bag that can be fully closed and in front of you is the safest option. A hidden money pouch is also a good idea. Lastly sandals or flats make it easy to explore this walking city. And of course have your camera ready- you are going to want to capture all the magnificent sites.

Moroccan cuisine-

Besides all the flavorful Moroccan Salads we sampled over the course of our trip, our favorite dinner was at La Sultana served poolside. It was very intimate with only a few tables and musician serenading us throughout the evening. However, the popular Moroccan dish Lamb Tagine with Couscous was the star- plums, saffron, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper filled the palate.

Another stand out was the Moroccan Mint Tea service. It is also quite the show. The hot mint tea is poured from a very high point, while filling your glass slowly. This ritual not only aerates the tea and infuses the mint flavor, but pouring tea from up high in a continuous stream is considered an act of respect towards the guest.

Every night we loved returning to our room to find the most decadent treat. Native to Morocco, Medjool dates are served dried making them soft and sticky and were fed only to the kings and Sultans in medieval times. This sweet treat was a perfect way to end the evening. Bringing new meaning to “dates” at turn down!

There is an energy in the Moroccan culture like no other. Between the vibrant colors and architecture, the indecipherable sounds and aromatic smells, I’ve never experienced something so different and amazing all at the same time. It is no wonder people fall in love with this fascinating city!

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