Today, I’m excited to share all about our recent trip to Marrakech, Morocco! But first, let me back up. I first visited Marrakech nine years ago, on a whim with my coworkers after a conference in Barcelona. I was in my early 20s and remember being so inspired and loving how different it was from life back home (San Francisco at the time). Then, in 2019, we visited as a family (Eric, 18 month old Lucy and Winnie in my belly). I was truly OBSESSED and we had the best time exploring and trying new food and shopping and introducing Lucy to experiences so different from home (Nashville by then). Soon after that trip, I decided to launch a little creative experiment selling 50 one of a kind Moroccan pillows online. I had met and shopped from someone during our trip and ordered pillows from him. Here we are two and a half years later and that creative experiment turned into a real life online shop where I’ve curated sold thousands of unique Moroccan homewares. Pretty wild!
This past week, Eric and I went back to Marrakech, just us, for a work trip for my business Shop Lucky Collective. The goal was to meet with existing and new suppliers and just immerse ourselves in the culture to get a huge wind of creative inspiration. We had a packed week of product sourcing and meetings, but also so much exploring and eating and resting. I love Marrakech for so many reasons but mainly for this charming, old world feel and this sensory overload. SO many colors and textures and noises and smells and all the things! There was so much color and beauty and liveliness but amidst simplicity. Things aren’t (for the most part) curated to look perfect, but instead were imperfectly perfect in their own way. It really is just magical.
I’ve shared a ton of photos/videos from our trip on my personal @luckyandi Instagram (saved to my ‘Marrakech’ highlight) as well as my @shopluckycollective IG (also have a ‘Marrakech’ highlight with ALLLL the gorgeous textiles and more behind-the-scenes shop/sourcing stuff!).
WHERE TO EAT
Dar Yocout – this was such a unique and special experience! When you walk in, you are escorted upstairs to the rooftop terrace for a drink, snacks, and live music. Then, you come downstairs for a romantic, elegant, traditional Moroccan tasting menu. Live music, multiple courses, super attentive staff, SO MUCH FOOD. It was about $75 USD/person, including wine.
Plus61 – this was outside of the medina in a newer neighborhood called Gueliz. The restaurant is inspired by the Australian lifestyle with flavors I inspired by the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and South Asia. The menu changes daily. We LOVED it. Every single thing we ate was absolutely delicious and the restaurant ambiance was so serene and wonderful. It was a quick 10 min taxi (about $5 USD) and I’m SO glad we went!
La Famille – we first visited here in 2019 and loved it so much. I have so many happy memories of their gorgeous courtyard and our meal. It feels like a laid back, delicious break from the chaos of the medina. The restaurant is fully vegetarian and only open a couple days a week for lunch only.
El Fenn – we had rooftop drinks and dinner and loved our meal! Definitely on the more expensive side compared to some other places, but well worth it for the food, drinks, and one of a kind ambiance.
Bacha Coffee House – this is another spot that is more of an experience than *just* a meal. This coffee shop is inside of Dar ele Bacha (Musée des Confluences) and there is a small store, and also the cafe. We went to the cafe where they offer 100+ different coffees and small bites – it was truly just such a delightful experience. Eric and I each got to pick out own coffee pot based on our taste preferences and how strong we liked our coffees. In America, we usually are just chugging coffee on the go, and this was an awesome experience to slow down and really enjoy the experience of having coffee (and some delicious pastries too!)
Naranj – this is a Lebanese spot in Marrakech and the food was SOOO good. Falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, etc. We both said this was one of our favorite meals during the trip!
NOMAD – this is a super popular spot (for tourists) in Marrakech! The food can be described as “modern Moroccan” with lots of delicious, fresh, and locally sourced options. There are multiple rooftop terraces and lots of areas inside to sit – it’s definitely a vibe!
M Rooftop – pretty rooftop spot for lounging and having juice or a mocktail!
La Pergola – this is a rooftop bar and restaurant with live jazz music every night! We actually came here twice for drinks after dinner – it’s a lively and fun vibe!
PEPE NERO – beautiful Italian restaurant inside of a riad. Not what we expected to eat in Morocco, but it was a nice and delicious break from the food we normally ate on the trip!
Cafe des Epices – multi-level cafe, centrally located within the medina (and owned by the same people who run NOMAD). We just had coffee here, but they have food too. Great for people watching!
La Mamounia – this is our second time visiting and eating at the famous La Mamounia hotel, which is right outside of the medina walls. It’s a huge luxury hotel and worth wandering around if you can, even if you don’t eat! The gardens and grounds and architecture are just stunning. We had lunch outside on their courtyard next to the garden and everything was so delicious and the ambiance is just fancy and wonderful. This is much more expensive than usual places in Marrakech, but it’s more than just a restaurant in my opinion – more of an experience to see everything!
Le Jardin – we just grabbed coffee here, but they have a full menu all day too. Tons of plants and areas to sit – very pretty and serene!
Royal Mansour – this is another fancier spot to visit, but also an experience as you get to walk around the hotel’s grounds. This is another luxury hotel and the food was super delicious! We ate at the hotel’s Le Jardin outside terrace restaurant which had salads, tapas and Asian-inspired plates. Super yummy! The entire hotel / grounds reminded me of The Parker in Palm Springs – if you’ve been, you’ll understand the vibe. 🙂
Les Jardins du Lotus – we grabbed rose and fries here before dinner! This is a newer spot with a huge menu and lots of #Instagrammable corners
A few other restaurants we didn’t visit but came recommended to me: L’Mida, Mandala Cafe, Atay Cafe, Le Kilim in Gueliz, Marrakech Henna Art Cafe, Cafe Clock Marrakech, Amal Women’s Training Center and Restaurant, Cafe Tiznit, KECHMARA
WHAT TO DO
Wander/Shop! We spent every day wandering around the medina and various souks. It really is like no other and just an overwhelming, but awesome experience. I had specific suppliers I’ve bought from before that I visited and also shopped around at other spots. The medina and souks are narrow and maze-like so honestly, just wander and see where you end up! Don’t forget, you can always bargain when shopping the souks 😉
Visit Gardens – There are two popular gardens to visit in Marrakech. Jardin Secret is which is right within the medina and a small, beautiful place to wander and recharge in between your shopping and exploring. Jardin Majorelle is much larger and worth visiting as well! The architecture and plants were just beautiful. This garden is connected to the Yves Saint Laurent Mansion (although you’ll need a separate ticket to enter that part). Jardin Marjorelle was BUSY, so I’d recommend getting a ticket for right when it opens or later in the afternoon (I’ve been told by a local it’s less busy during the hottest part of the day). Eric is a huge plant guy (obviously y’all know @eastnashgreenhouse at this point!) so both of these stops were a must for us.
Experience a Hammam – this a must in my opinion! I did my first hammam experience on our last trip, and this was Eric’s first time! We did a three hour hammam experience, which included a 1) one hour full-body steam, exfoliation and mask treatment, 2) a one hour massage and 3) a one hour facial. It was about $100/person total and super relaxing. 🧖♀️ We went to Marajah Spa which was wonderful and I visited Assal Hammam last trip. Here’s an article about the hammam experience if you’re curious to learn more!
Enjoy Coffee at Bacha Coffee House – I shared about this above about where to eat, but this was so unique and special I wanted to put in this experiences section too. Give yourself a couple of hours to visit the museum, put your name in for the coffee house, and enjoy an hour or two of coffee. It’s really awesome! ☕️
Wander the Grounds at a Luxury Hotel – as mentioned in the ‘where to eat’ section, we visited two beautiful, sprawling luxury hotels for lunch, La Mamounia and Royal Monsour. Both are experiences in and of themselves which is why I put them in the food AND experiences section of this blog post. Both feature stunning architecture/ decor and beautiful gardens.
Go on a Camel Ride – we didn’t do this on this trip, but went on a camel ride in 2019 with Lucy and it was super memorable! We booked a one hour tour via Get Your Guide. They picked us up at the hotel and took us to a palm grove area for our tour.
Visit Museums, Palaces, Etc: Candidly I’m not a huge museum person, BUT loved dthe Dar Si Said Moroccan Carpet and Weaving Museum on our last trip. This trip we also visited Bahia Palaca and Dar ele Bacha (which is connected to the Bacha Coffee House, more on that below!). A few other museums and palaces that were recommended to me if that’s your thing: El Badi Palace, Ben Yousseet Madrassa and Almoravid Qubba.
Go on a Desert Tour: another popular thing to do is spend a day driving in the nearby Atlas Mountains is very popular. I did it on my first trip, and this time, we quickly visited a mountain village with one of my suppliers. There are lots of guides and tour companies that can take you around the mountains for the day.
Hang at your riad/hotel – The hotels and riads are so beautiful and serene so definitely soak up time there! Every afternoon we would come back to our riad and just relax, dip in the pool, read, rest, etc. It was really relaxing to take a break from all the wandering and busyness of Marrakech and reset before going out for dinner!
WHERE TO STAY
We decided to split our time between two riads during this trip. First, we stayed at the Palais Sebban. We had our own private terrace patio, which was wonderful and the riad was quite large with a full restaurant, a huge rooftop terrace, pool area, and lots of beautifully decorated rooms to hang out in. This riad had 25 rooms, but it never felt busy to us. One thing we loved about it was the location — it was right down the way from the popular (and awesome) El Fenn and super centrally located to the souk and popular things to do within the medina. This riad had free breakfast every day, a bar area, and dinner service (not included in your stay). Photos below!
Second, we ended our trip stayed at an eight bedroom boutique riad, Le Riad Yasmine. More photos below! It was much smaller than Palais Sebban but so quiet and lovely! The lush courtyard around the pool was INCREDIBLE, as was their serene rooftop, where we had our included breakfast in the morning. Riad Yasmine also offers dinner if you chose to do so. It felt a little further from the medina action, while still being a quick-ish walk to everything. We loved that we got to stay at two different and unique places and areas.
El Fenn is another very popular riad that we’ve visited for both trips. You can eat / visit their patio for a drink even if you don’t stay there, but I know it’s a gorgeous (although more expensive) place to stay. This was our initial choice, but was booked for the days we were visiting. Overall, I’m glad it didn’t work out because we got to stay in two other wonderful new-to-us spots!
A FEW THINGS TO KNOW
A riad is a traditional Moroccan home centered around an open-air courtyard within the walls of the medina. Riads range in size and amenities and price. Some are more basic and inexpensive, some are luxurious and grand. There are TONS of options available!
The medina means ‘city’ or ‘town’ in modern day Arabic and is the ‘old part of the city.’ It is surrounded by a wall and inside, you’ll find narrow, maze-like roads and pathways, mosques, palaces, shops, and restaurants. Most of the medina is car-free! Within the medina, you’ll find many souks.
Souks are the marketplaces within the medina (aka where you shop!) and often organized by trade, like leather, metal, spices, ceramics, textiles, etc. But, you’ll also find souks that have all sorts of shops and a big mix of everything!
Language Things ~ The official religion of Morocco is Islam, and the official languages are Arabic and Berber. Many people speak French and I believe are taught French in school. We were able to mostly get by speaking English! Every restaurant had an English menu as well.
What to Wear ~ The country is conservative so I’d recommend dressing modestly as to be respectful and not come across as super touristy. It was HOT, so I usually wore a lightweight skirt or pants with a tshirt or high-neck tank top. I brought sneakers and sturdy sandals. I brought heels and only wore once and honestly, wouldn’t recommend. 😉
Money Things ~ In terms of currency, 1 US Dollar = approx. 10 MAD. I would just divide the amount by 10 to figure out how much were we paying in US dollars. Most places accept credit card (not AMEX though), but definitely have cash on hand with you for bargaining in the souk and for some other experiences/restaurants.
Restaurant Things ~ A lot of restaurant don’t open until 6 or even 7:30pm for dinner. Usually the first dinner spot is at 7:30/8 and the second at 9:30/10pm. This is very different than when we eat dinner at home, but it was really nice to have leisurely, slow afternoons before dinner and after a busy morning each day. FYI Many restaurants/cafes do not serve alcohol. Some do – but just note that at many places, when you order a ‘mojito’ it is likely a virgin mojito 😉
Travel Adventures: Marrakech, Morocco (from Fall 2019)