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Wednesday 23 September 2015

Magical Marrakech – Travel Guide : Part I

Last week I bought you tales & many boastful snaps from the first part of my holiday in Morocco. If you missed it, play catch up here

This week I thought I’d continue spreading sunny vibes and share part I of my whistle-stop tour of top Marrakech to-dos AKA a 3BM insider’s guide on the best places to eat, see and explore!

Souk Shopping 

First things first, souk shopping meandering is an absolute must. Packed full to the brim of colour and texture the souks boast a beautiful blend of Arab culture and French influence. I guarantee you’ll get swept up in the vibrant hustle and bustle of the experience! A piece of advice to you before setting out is … brace yourself, this is not a Bond Street outing, prepare yourself for constant interruptions from locals pleading with you to check out their wares. Most are respectful and leave you alone after one or two attempts. Be firm and just say ‘NO, 100% NO’. 

Before hitting the souks for some serious shopping, we were introduced by the manager of our riad we were staying in to ‘Mustapha Blaoui’ AKA Aladdin’s cave! You have to be in-the-know to find this place as it’s hidden behind huge double wooden doors, only featuring the number 144…

We couldn’t believe our eyes once inside – it’s quite literally one of the most amazing places I have ever explored on my travels. A huge multi-floor warehouse bursting with floor-to-ceiling interior gems from lanterns and over-the-top light fittings to lavish rugs and embroidered armchairs. I could go on and on about this place if I had all day but seeing is believing where this haven is concerned. I could quite happily fill my flat from top to toe with items from Mustapha Blaoui – apparently the staff are quite happy to organise overseas shipping for you too – easy peasy!

Mustapha Blaoui

142 – 144 Bab Doukkala


(00 212 524 385 240)

Next up the souks. We were on the hunt for a few items including gold coasters, colourful porridge bowls, lanterns and nougat! Our heads were turned at every souk bend - so many gorgeous things shimmering back at us begging to be bought.

A favourite has to be the metal hammered sinks in gold, silver and bronze. The riad we were staying at (more on that next week) had them in their bathrooms and I would use any excuse to nip to the loo to keep washing my hands just to spend time with them!!!

El Fenn - Boutique Riad

If you’re looking for an idyllic spot to escape the bustling medina, take a load off and eat like a king, look no further than El Fenn. Vanessa Branson (yes yes, we’re talking Richard Branson’s sister) and Howell James have lovingly designed the riad together and let me tell you it has serious wow-factor. I fell in love with everything from its jewel-popping interior, courtyard statement pool, furniture dressed up in to-die-for fabrics and dreamy nooks inviting you to curl up with a book and block out the world around. Featuring three sun-bathed courtyards, the riad is your oyster. I walked around in a dreamlike state exploring its many faces and its charm never faded.

We were invited by the riad to stop by for lunch – an invitation we snapped up without hesitation! The restaurant is nestled on the rooftop of the riad and is the perfect spot for spectacular views, unfussy yet delicious food and afternoon sun soaking! The sanctuary in the sky is packed full of colourful striped cushions, giant wicker lanterns that rock in the breeze, beautiful blue and white ceramic surface tables, topped off with nothing but peace and calm. 

For lunch, we opted for beef skewers and grilled lamb with rice and a crispy fresh salad all washed down with a beautiful rosé wine. My idea of perfect holiday food. The staff also treated us to the most mind-blowing cappuccino that ever graced this earth – seriously, I am not being over the top. I have not stopped talking about it since…!

Post-lunch we were all suffering from a food and coffee overload so we retired to the rooftop plunge pool area for afternoon snoozing, cocktail sipping and pool side posing! 

I would love to go back again and taste-test dinner as the evening menu looked seriously good. GO – it will delight in every possible sense! 

Jemaa el Fna - Night Market

The night market is a real treat with ample happening to feast your eyes on from sizzling food stalls, orange juice stands galore and snake charmers aplenty! We headed there one night to soak up the atmosphere and to feed our hungry tummies. We had heard that the view above looking down on the crowds below was pretty spectacular so we climbed the stairs of the classic Moroccan cuisine café, Chez Chegrouni to get the best view possible. 

A few facts worth knowing in advance about this foodie pit stop - you can’t book, they don’t serve alcohol and the service is unfrilly but in my opinion it’s these aspects that make the place all the more charming. Whilst we were there we ordered up some local specialties to keep energies up. The food received mixed reviews from the group but I personally thought it was pretty lip-smacking and the bill came to a mere £12 in total #cheapandcheerful

Chez Chegrouni
46 Jemaa el Fna, 
(00 212 24 6547 615)

That brings me to the end of Part I of my Marrakech hit list! Stay tuned for Part II next week…

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