Marrakech is a city in the grip of a delirious imagination. A feverish dreamscape of honeycombed alleys and minarets quivering in the moonlight and haunted by the restless creatures of a visionary carnival that has lasted for a thousand years and shows no sign of stopping now. Marrakech is one of the worlds enchanted places where time becomes suspended and, through its open door, you catch a glimpse of the past so rich and so remote and yet so palpable.... read_more...
There is also a modern Marrakech of luxury hotels, streets with restless mopeds and guides, but they all seem to co-exist with the past. It is a Berber rather than Arab city; the traditional metropolis of Atlas tribes, Mahgrebis from the plains, Saharan nomads and slaves from beyond the desert. It was founded around 1062 by Youssef bin Tachfine of the Almoravide dynasty, but it was his son Ali Ben Youssef who brought architects and craftsmen from Cordoba to build palaces, baths and Mosques, a subterranean water system and in 1126 the first circuit of walls were raised from "tabia" - the red mud of the plains.
Marrakech's setting is truly magical. A patchwork of ravishing green against the bare, brown plain of Haouz with the snowy High Atlas rearing up behind like an apocalyptic tidal wave towering through the haze. Focus of every approach to the city is the Koutoubia Mosques minaret, Marrakech's crowning centrepiece, the 203 feet high tower, the very synthesis of Moslem architecture. Other sights to visit are the Saadian tombs dating from 1557, over-lavish maybe, but sensational nevertheless.
The Mellah, once the largest Jewish quarter in Morocco; the Agdal, Majorelle (Yves St.Laurent Gardens) and Menara Gardens, located near the edge of the Medina where it is both cool and very still and in perfect contrast to the bustling city streets; the Bahia and dar Si-Said, the latter housing a museum of Moroccan arts.
Le Touareg shop in souk for silver berber crosses/jewellery and pots. Really good quality, hidden away.
By far the best way to visit these sights is to engage one of the horse-drawn carriages (caleches). They will take you riding in comfort and style. But to see the marvels of Marrakech's Medina - all two square miles of it - you must go on foot. It is in the hurlyburly of the Medina where you will find the masterpieces of Marrakechi art. Each craft in the Medina has its own special quarter in one of the interminable passages that sprawls like some vast living organism, teeming with activity. There are two or three main thoroughfares in the Medina, off which branch most of the individual markets with alleys and squares devoted to specific crafts where one can watch part of the production process in dyeing, brass and copper beating, apothecary stalls, cosmetics, herbs, jewellers, leather workers, carpenters, sieve-makers, perfumes, spices and slipper makers.
The Marrakech riads (About riads) are situated in the bustle of the medina, the inward looking riad design ensures that they are a place to relax - keeping both the heat and the noise out. Alternatively, instead of a riad, stay at a hotel in the Palmeraie or Hivernage.
The High Atlas, a mere 30 km south of Marrakech and the greatest mountain range in North Africa, is undoubtedly the most beautiful and compelling part of this diverse land. It has perpetuated a remoteness which until recent decades was virtually complete. Staying a few days in Marrakech you are bound to hear about the Ourika, a long and beautiful valley where "locals" breeze out on their mopeds in the summer to escape the city heat to lie beside the streams and waterfalls, just an hours drive from your hotel. Oukaimeden, the main ski resort in the Atlas (3,272m high) has good piste and off-piste skiing between the months of December and March. Marrakech holds the same fascination as the sea (2 hours drive to the coast), constantly changing and eternally the same, and once you have witnessed it, you're sure to be back for more.
Marrakech! Don't miss it. You owe it to yourself.
See below for the riads and hotels we offer in Marrakech.
We offer a range of excursions from Marrakech to guide you round the city and the surrounding area. more details.
Excess Baggage on BBC Radio 4: David Stafford explores the town of Marrakesh and discovers that while the medina still has the exotic heritage, the new quarters of the city are being developed to attract a new kind of visitor. David discovers how Moroccan culture and art have more to do with sub-Saharan Africa than the Arabic Middle East. - More details and audio link.
Accommodation in Marrakech
Delightful, unusual rural setting outside the city. Spectacular views. 21 rooms. 2 Pools, gardens, spa
Villa Des Orangers(Relais et Chateau) in Marrakech
Relais et Chateaux riad in old city. Very high standards. 27 rooms/suites. 3 pools, hammam
Riad Al Moussikain Marrakech
Superbly managed riad in old city. 5 rooms. Pool. Hammam.
Les Deux Toursin Marrakech
Well established Palmeraie setting. 35 rooms/suites. Gardens, hammam, pool
Riad Dar Justoin Marrakech
A 15th century traditional guest house.
Riad Les Yeux Bleuesin Marrakech
Delightful riad in old city. 8 Rooms. Pool, hammam
Riad Souikain Marrakech
A 3-room cosy riad in old city with housekeeper, availabile as an entire property or by the room
La Maison Arabein Marrakech
Chic riad in old city. High quality. 26 rooms/suites. Pool, hammam, cookery school
Jardins De La Koutoubiain Marrakech
Centrally located riad style. 75 rooms/suites. Pool, hammam
La Sultana Marrakechin Marrakech
A sophisticated establishment where no detail has been overlooked
Les Jardins De La Medinain Marrakech
36 Room riad combining comfort and tradition with restaurant
Riad Laorain Marrakech
Lovely riad in old city. 7 rooms. small pool
Les Borjs De La Kasbahin Marrakech
A boutique hotel of six houses and a riad near the royal palace
Riyad Edwardin Marrakech
Traditionally decorated 9 room riad
Tichka Hotelin Marrakech
Probably the best 4-star hotel in Marrakech.
La Mamouniain Marrakech
La Mamounia is a way of life - one could get used to it...
Es Saadiin Marrakech
A genteel hotel with spectacular views of the High Atlas peaks
Sofitel Marrakechin Marrakech
A 5 Star luxury hotel withing walking distance of the Jemaa El Fna
Palmeraie Palacein Marrakech
Uniquely set in the palmeraie with landscaped gardens and it's own championship 18 hole golf course.
Very special boutique hotel just outside the city. 17 rooms/suites. Pool, spa, gardens.
Dar Darmain Marrakech
A six suite 18th century riad with hammam and pool
Dar Liqamain Marrakech
2 well equipped houses set in 4 acres of gardens offering a cookery course
Riad Charaiin Marrakech
A spacious and airy nine-roomed riad with pool and spa
Riad El Zoharin Marrakech
A lovely riad with pool and spa
Riad Shamain Marrakech
A seven room 18th century house with pool
New luxurious hotel just 5 mins from the centre of Marrakech
Free nights, upgrades, hammam & massage and honeymoon special offers.
Seven Day North Tour
Discover old medinas and lush rolling hills of the Rif mountains in the North of Morocco
Meet the locals in the rustic Berber villages of the High Atlas Mountains amidst stunning scenery
Feedback and reviews
recommend: Majorelle Gardens, the Cyber Parc with its permanent display of photographs, the Musee de Marrakech for its decor not its exhibits. Le Tobsil restaurant has a good atmosphere but do not necessarily try to eat all that comes. The Marrakech tourist bus not particularly worth while as it mainly covers the new town and big hotels. L.G. in November 2009