Yves Saint Laurent said that Marrakech was a great shock to him because he felt that this was the city that taught him color. Remarkable indeed, because at this point he had already grown into a popular and internationally much appreciated designer. And although Marrakech is mostly drenched in light shades of Terracottan red, this city is as diverse as you would imagine it when you try to visualize the Saint Laurent words. Drenched in any color you can imagine.
For the record: Do not expect any street names or exact addresses. There are non. It is all about having a compass and a good companion.
The Mosquée de la Koutoubia is the main sight of the city creating the center of Marrakech. Its color is an allegory to the typical Marrakech red and the turquoise somehow symbolizes the intensity of this city. It is one of the oldest Mosques in Marrakech and can only be entered by Muslims. Obviously. Right behind the Mosquee you will find a beautiful garden where you can perfectly relax and hear the prayer. As a Non-Muslim.
Djemaa al Fna is basically the culinary center of the city only a few steps away from the Mosquée de la Koutoubia in the South West of the Medina. This might be the perfect example for any authentic food market with over 100 food stands and even more people who may probably dance for you to eat their stuff. After three rounds we decided to sit down at the stand that united the most locals. Good decision. 14 it is.
Next to the food market it feels a bit like 1001 and one night. You won’t find Aladdin on his flying carpet but you will find woman who will tell you when you marry and when you are going to die. You will find snake charmers, drummer boys, traditional musicians and anything one could possibly connect with an Arabic place like this.
The Kasbah Cafe in the South of the Medina is a great place to come down and enjoy a freshly pressed juice and a typical Morrocan coffee. From their roof top, which is also great to cool your body and head down, you have a great view over the Mosquée de Mansour and it is only a view steps away from the Palais de Bahia or Le Bains de Marrakech where I can only highly recommend the Hammam.
If you are planning to buy a carpet let me tell you this: go to Dar Mejbar because Fetah, the man in the pinky shirt will be the nicest and most pleasant person you might meet. He is fluent in German, English, French and Arabic. He will tell you that these carpets are handmade in a manufacture where only women work which is true and great in a country where female oppression is still present. He will also tell you that every carpet has a price tag that can only be negotiated by 15% while you drink a freshly brewed Mint tea. Well, maybe 20%. The price tag is true and if you are a true Berber you will be lucky enough to only pay 50% of the price. They will be carrying your carpets to the place where you stay and you can pay with credit card. Please send him greetings from the two German girls that had to wait on the rooftop of his store to get a signal for the VISA machine.
La Mamounia is the hotel that was featured in Sex and the City 2. Yes, it is placed in Marrakech and not in Abu Dhabi. A slightly over-restored palace that was already honored with the presence of Capote, Saint Laurent and many others. The hot chocolate is the best I have had in my life and the garden is extraordinary. You should wear something chic when you want them to let you enter the hotel.
What can I say? After visiting this place I thought that blue is my favorite color. Actually it is Blue Majorelle. This is the residence Yves Saint Laurent bought when no one had Marrakech on their screen – situated in Guéliz – the new part of Marrakech. He spent many months their creating one of the most exceptional gardens I have seen. It is not only about the colors it is about the magic this garden owns. I would -without thinking about it for a second – move in there immediately.
Le Jardin is one of the most beautiful restaurants Marrakech has to offer. Great fusion food, mostly Morrocan – Mediterranean it is like an oasis in the middle of the Medina. It takes a while to find it but you will most probably stumble upon it naturally.
After enjoying a great lunch or early dinner at Le Jardin it is only two minutes to this beautiful place that might be one of my favorite places and indeed is one of the only Islamic places that you can visit as non-Muslim. Word can not describe how incredibly beautiful every detail of this place is. The yard and also the rooms that visitors have access to are just breathtaking.
Al Fassia might be one of the most famous restaurants in Marrakech’s New Town Guéliz. Only managed by women it already gained popularity through this statement. Make sure you reserve a table because it is always fully booked. Even Ottolenghi says that this is the best place you can possbily have dinner at.
If you are still looking for a Riad I can only highly recommend the Riad AnaYela that has been restored with so much love for detail that it feels like living in a story book. You will always find something special in each and every corner and the staff is so pleasant that all I wanted to do is stay. It is situated in the North of the Medina in the mid of local residences. From the rooftop you will have the most beautiful view over the medina and into the crystal clear night sky of Marrakech.
A place where you can perfectly inhale anything you experienced in Marrakech and it will be conserved forever.