Marrakech is a funny place.
Get it wrong (which is very easy to do) and you’ll fall into awful tourist traps and most likely never want to return. I hear of so many people who have done this! However, get Marrakech right and you are in for a little slice of Arabian magic.
Very few places have so many different backdrops to explore within such a close proximity. Haggle in souks, dine in the desert and be pampered to perfection in world class hotels. And that’s only scrapping the service!
This leads me nicely onto our accommodation – The Oberoi.
Where do I even start?
This hotel is heaven on earth.
From the moment you are greeted in the airport, you are treated like utter royalty. The general manager stands at the hotel entrance waiting to say hello, with a huge smile and personalised welcome. Things really just get better from that moment on.
Set in 27 acres of lush gardens that are adorned with white roses and superbly maintained, the Oberoi offers in the region of 80 rooms (of which, all but 6 are villas with private pools).
The Oberoi’s motto is to ensure all staff know each guest’s name…it really is about service, service, service.
We stayed for three nights in a stunning villa and could have easily not left it for the entire trip. The butlers are the most attentive people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, going well beyond turn-down service and mini-bar refills.
I could go on and on, gushing about how perfect the Oberoi truly is, but I’ll let the photos do the talking.
All I can say is that we hope to be back very soon.
Lunch became one of our daily highlights.
As the sun reached its peak, we would stroll to the main hotel restaurant and take a front row seat to watch the Atlas Mountains.
We tended to opt for the selection of Moroccan salads, burrata and crisp wine, but it was the hotel’s complimentary focaccia that stole the show.
Made with ripe tomatoes from the Oberoi’s garden, the bread was served warm with fresh peppers and homemade pink peppercorn humous.
We both agreed that we could have easily spent all afternoon watching the world go by.
After lunch, we would lazily walk through the Oberoi’s grounds.
The gardens alone are enough to keep you mesmerised, but we became pretty besotted with the hotel’s resident rescue donkeys. So much so, that we would take them an apple each day.
Different activities that were included gave guests the option to get up from their loungers. Given the heat, we decided against the running, boxing and tennis…instead opting for falconry.
If you want to explore outside the hotel grounds, head into the Medina which is a short 15-minute drive away from The Oberoi.
Clem was adamant about buying a leather poof for the lounge and was over the moon with his haggling skills.
In terms of planning, two hours is plenty for me in Old Town. It’s vibrant, bustling and varied, but it can be a little stressful in 35 degree heat.
You do, however, feel safe during the afternoon.
When I first visited Marrakech almost ten years ago, Old Town was less geared for tourists. At times and in certain areas, it was intimidating.
Today is a very different story. Stall holders are less pushy and locals are mostly very friendly, so you can definitely enjoy a few hours searching for a trinket to take home.
When it comes to evenings in Marrakech, there’s no shortage of options.
We chose to stay in the hotel on our first night as this stunning courtyard was transported into a magical backdrop for a Moroccan feast, topped off with traditional music.
If you want to head out (of course you do!), there are plenty of places that offer dramatically different experiences.
If you want to experience old town, I would recommend Kosy Bar. It’s a chic cocktail bar located in the centre of the medina with stunning views of the Katoubia.
However, it’s also one of very few establishments behind the Medina walls that serves alcohol. If you fancy a glass of wine while watching the sunset, book a table here for late afternoon and watch the busy world go by.
Should you long for a larger night out, you’ll want to book a table in one of many restaurants in new town (Hivernage).
Comptoir Darna is famous for its shows, Koya offers unbelievable sushi and Epicurien is arguably the best place in Morocco to go for a night out. Prep yourself for a 2am return taxi as you won’t want to leave until the music stops (or if you’re staying at the Oberoi, your personal driver will be on tap to collect you when called).
A Desert Adventure
If you have plenty of time spare, you can head out to the Sahara which takes around one day by 4×4.
If, however, you want the desert experience within easy reach of the city, look no further than Scarabeo Camp.
After the Oberoi, service seemed to be non-existent here. Want a coffee? Get it yourself. A later dinner? No, dinner is served 7.30pm on the dot. A fire to keep the nightime chill at bay? You’ll probably have to ask at least three times.
Yet despite this lack of attention to detail, I continue to return to Scarabeo.
It’s rustic and chic at the same time with unbelievable views of the Atlas Mountains. It’s also a complete digital detox which is highly refreshing.
They do now offer electricity in your tent, so luxuries such as a hair dryer are available. But you aren’t here for the amenities, you’re here to completely relax and take in the desert pace of live.
Laze by the infinity pool, hop on a camel for a trek or gaze at stars with the resident astronomer.
Scarabeo is a world away from home where you can completely switch off…a perfect recipe for overdue catch ups with old friends over a bottle of red and lamb taggine.
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