We spent 8 days in Morocco at the end of April / start of May. It was the perfect time to visit with temps of 25-30 degrees every day, any later and it starts getting up to 38 & 39. We flew into Marrakech and eased our way into Morocco in a 5 star resort, Savoy Le Grand. It was pretty stunning with large rooms, 2 comfy beds and 3 big pool areas surrounded by sun loungers and plenty of bars and restaurants. We didn’t want to eat at the hotel too much but we are both very partial to a buffet breakfast so we loaded up on pastries, fresh fruit, yoghurt & crepes with Nutella every day. Our first few days at Savoy were spent lounging by the pool in the morning and early afternoon before taking a taxi into the Medina each afternoon (FYI you should only be paying 30-40 dhm for this). We instantly fell in love with Morocco, it is so crazy that just a 3 hour flight from London can make you feel like you’re on the other side of the world and so disconnected from everything. It is so colourful and while the Medina is hectic it also made us feel super relaxed at the same time. We were warned about how much attention we would receive being two western females and were told to be very careful but we didn’t feel unsafe at all. The people do tend to stare and will tell you you’re sexy or call you Shakira but it was all fun and games. We wandered around all the streets and souks for hours, there is so much to see and buy, we loved being able to barter too. It does get exhausting and when happy hour hits its near impossible to find anywhere to have a drink! Everywhere in the Medina with a view of a mosque can’t serve alcohol although us being us we managed to stumble across a couple of gems for a mojito or G&T.
Whilst we were in Marrakech we booked our 2 night / 3 day Sahara desert tour through a company called Marrakech Desert Tours that we found online. It was 100 euro pp which is more expensive than some of them but we would really recommend it. Some of the tours go to Zegora but we went to Merzouga which is much further in and much better (no rubbish and proper sand dunes). We left Marrakech early one morning in a minivan with our fellow tour groupies. We were driven through the Atlas mountains (for hours and hours) making a few stops for pictures and lunch. Don’t expect good food on the tour, its foul. We also stopped at a little Berber village called Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou which is where they have filmed Game of Thrones, Indiana Jones, Gladiator and many more. We then got back on the road and ended up in our hotel for the night. It was in the middle of nowhere between two huge, rocky cliff faces. The rooms were terrible and the food was horrendous. They served up watery, soggy, flavourless couscous topped with rotten veg. Luckily they sold beer and we begged the owner for French fries. It was another early start and we were feeling very sorry for ourselves and regretful of the journey we had embarked on. Especially considering just a couple of days ago we were living in 5 star. Day 2 was a lot of driving again, we stopped at another Berber village then hit the road to the Sahara. When we arrived, we pretty much got straight on the camels and after just a few minutes were trekking through bright orange, untouched sand dunes that went as the eye could see. The sun started setting, it was magical. We got to our camp and ditched the dinner and bongo drums for our pack of pringles and little cotton tent. We were woken at 5.30am covered in bugs and shocked to find out that the whole camp was waiting on us, we missed the 5am wake up memo. We got back on the camels and started trekking through the dark while the sun started to rise. We stopped at a high point to catch sunrise which was equally as amazing as sunset. What a special experience!! How often can you say you stayed the night under the stars in the Sahara?
Back to Marrakech we went where a hot shower, delicious Moroccan food and dreamy Riad awaited. We stayed in a place called Riad Jardin Secret which we could not recommend enough, its owned by two Parisians who have styled it to perfection. When you arrive you would never imagine what’s behind the doors, a jungle of plants, lots of hidden places to sit and relax and a pink rooftop. While we were back in Marrakech we ate at all our favourite spots (Nomad, Le Jardin and Café De Espices) and explored the Souks every day. We also went to Heritage Spa for a traditional Hammam and Massage, what an experience. We were stripped down and scrubbed by two Moroccan women who spoke no English followed by a full body massage with Verbena oil. Definitely a must do in Morocco. We were very sad that our holiday was coming to an end but it actually felt like a really long break. One of the top places we have visited on all our travels for sure.
Below is a list of our recommendations
Places to eat & drink (all in the Medina)
– Le Jardin: Gorgeous outdoor courtyard terrace with yum tagines and couscous. Quite western but a nice experience + they have little turtles roaming the terrace
– Nomad: again, quite wester but one of our favourite places for tagines and you must try the lamb burger. They also have great desserts and a rooftop for sunset
– Café des Espices: in the middle of the souks, overlooking the main market place – great stop for lunch and fresh OJ
– La Famille: another beautiful courtyard for a light vegetarian lunch. They serve fresh salads, pasta and pizettas
– Palais Khum: a hidden gem and nice break from the souks. Delicious gelato and mojitos
– Katsura: its outside of the medina but good Japanese and Thai food if you need a break from tagines, they also serve alcohol
– Café Bazaar: a rooftop that serves cocktails
Places we didn’t go but are also meant to be good:
– Le Comptoir Darna – a good night out
– Zwin Zwin café
– La Mamounia
– Café de france
– Al Fassia
– I Limoni
The souks are a bargain hunters dream – we spent hours perusing stalls and bartering with the pushy salesmen. We got some good buys but also bought some crap that I got too deep on negotiations with – rainbow sequin purse anyone? We each got a rug and some pillows which I think were quite a good bye – we tried to work off paying 1/3rd of the price they stated which worked most of the time.
If you want a more relaxed shopping experience head to Souk Cherifia – its hidden in the main Souks but has some nicer shops. We also found an incredible three story furniture shop through a hidden door just down from Henna Café.
We would recommend buying a sim card at the airport as Wi-Fi networks are pretty terrible everywhere and hard to find working ones. If you are happy without Wi-Fi, download citymaps2go for reliable offline maps to find your way through the Medina.