Tuesday, April 8, 2014

{4 days in Marrakech}

Normally my travel itinerary posts are 24 to 36 hour itineraries, but for Marrakech you are going to need at least 4 days to really experience and enjoy the city.  Spending time in Morocco was truly like nothing I have ever experienced- the culture is so welcoming, the food is insanely flavorful and the general vibrant energy of the city is contagious.  Read on for all the places we enjoyed during our trip:

stay at:  We chose to stay in a traditional Riad which was a really unique experience- almost like a Arabian bed & breakfast.  The staff are incredibly accommodating and truly want you to feel as if you are in your own home.  If you are less adventurous and prefer the comforts of a traditional hotel experience then I would recommend looking into the Four Seasons Marrakech- but keep in mind it is not located near the city center and you will need to take cabs to get almost anywhere you want to go, but the grounds are gorgeous!

go shopping:  Give yourself an entire day to wander through the souks shopping for rugs, spices, textiles, teapots and a menagerie of Moroccan trinkets.  Our riad provided a guide to take us around and I would highly recommend you look into one for your day of shopping.  Guides are generally inexpensive and will help you to not get completely hopelessly lost in the endless maze of alleyways that is the markets.  I probably could have brought home an entire 50lb suitcase of goodies from the souks, but if you can only bring one thing back with you then you simply must splurge on a hand-made rug or a moroccan wedding blanket.  I found the moroccan wedding blanket of my dreams tucked into a tiny shop and I can't wait to share it with you soon (you can see a sneak peek here). 

grab lunch at:  Stop in for an easy lunch at Cafe des Epices which is conveniently located in the center of all the markets.  Make sure to ask for a seat up on the third floor rooftop for a incredible view of the city.  Enjoy a leisurely lunch here that includes tasty kefta and avocado toast. 

afternoon break:  While you are in Morocco you will drink mint tea....all the time.  You will drink mint tea in the morning, after meals, while shopping for rugs, as an afternoon break- it just never stops and you won't want it to.  The presentation is so gorgeous that you might be tempted to pick up a Moroccan teapot for yourself!

have dinner at:  Make reservations at Pepe Nero for an Italian meets Moroccan menu (sounds odd, but it works. I promise).  The interior of the restaurant will make you feel like you just stepped into a movie set complete with tranquil pools, flowers everywhere and perfectly dim lighting. 

spend a day at:  A must see in Marrakech is Yves Saint Laurent's gardens, Jardin Majorelle.   Plan to spend a good half of a day here and make sure to get the additional tickets to enter the Berber museum.  There is also a cafe on the property that has a great menu for lunch including some great desserts!

grab cocktails at:  Reportedly one of the best rooftop bars in the world is Kosy Bar so you probably don't wanna miss this one.  Sit back and enjoy the sunset alongside a cocktail before heading to dinner. 

dinner at:  Book a table in the traditional Moroccan room at La Maison Arabe (they have multiple dining rooms which might confuse you).  The service level here is unmatched and the food is an amazing spread of traditional moroccan dishes- order the lamb for 2 because it's amazing, but know that it serves almost 6 people!

spa day:  One day in Marrakech should be used to lounge poolside in the morning and then head out for 3 to 4 hours at a traditional hammam.  Heritage Spa had some of the best reviews and it certainly lived up to its reputation.  For about $70 we each received a detox scrub with traditional moroccan black soap and a 60 minute relaxing massage.  The entire experience left us all feeling both incredibly relaxing and invigorated at the same time. 

bonus points:  If you desire to ride a camel into the Sahara, sleep in the desert and trek up to the Atlas mountains then you will need to add on another 4 days to your trip.  We did not have time for this on this journey, but I would absolutely love to go back for it. 

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