Marrakech is a ball of tightly bound energy. Explore its labyrinth of lively lanes and you’ll find tea shops, bustling markets and roving artisans, but not much peace and quiet. There are stunning pockets of serenity to be discovered, however, if you know which side streets to head down and arches to disappear through. Follow our itinerary for a restorative breather.
Stop 1: Le Jardin Secret
Marrakech’s most popular green space is the Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Gardens) – a beauty spot on the edge of the medina that was once the home of French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Its cacti plots and carp ponds are a dreamy sight, but you won’t have them all to yourself. Le Jardin Secret is, as the name suggests, less famous despite being right in the middle of the medina. With no queues to enter, you can be sipping mint tea in the water-filled, turquoise-tiled gardens within moments.
Stop 2: Nomad
If Yotam Ottolenghi were Moroccan he’d be cooking at Nomad restaurant. This hotspot overlooks the spice market and is prime people-watching territory. Spend a long lunch peering down from the roof terrace while you dine on shaved cauliflower and fennel salad and saffron-scented date cake.
Stop 3: Hammam de la Rose
After a morning pounding the streets, few noises are as relaxing as hearing drips echoing around the eerie, emerald Hammam de la Rose spa. Let yourself be steamed, showered, scrubbed from head to foot and caked with grey ghassoul clay mud from the nearby Atlas Mountains.
Stop 4: Riad Yima
Artist Hassan Hajjaj owns the teahouse, boutique and gallery Riad Yima, which is every bit as colourful as his tongue-in-cheek pop art. Sink into a shocking-pink sofa and flick through coffee-table books or wander around the gallery with a flaky cinnamon pastry and juice.
Stop 5: The Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains are less than two hours’ drive away from the city – book a tour with Aztat Treks and they’ll organise a guide to take you high into the peaks, serving a delicious lunchtime tagine in pin-drop silence on a high plateau. It’s also possible to ascend to the summit of Mount Toubkal, Morocco’s highest. Then you really will be above the fray.
Stop 6: Mustapha Blaoui
Homewares emporium Mustapha Blaoui is a genuine hidden gem. Push through the always-closed, thick wooden doors on Arset Aouzal Road (so easy to walk straight past) into a huge labyrinth of interconnected rooms across two floors. If you’re lucky, you may even get it to yourself. The owners sit in the main room and leave you to browse until it comes to the haggling stage.