1. Get snap happy at Majorelle Garden
Roughly a century ago, French painter Jacques Majorelle purchased a plot of land in Marrakech to turn into his own private designer home and garden. He didn’t manage it too well and the plot fell into disrepair. But, luckily, feted fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (no less) saw some potential so bought up and restored the garden in the 1980s. Now it’s all psychedelic paths winding through supermodel cacti, with a twinkling fountain and ravishing cubist villa decked out in vivid ‘Majorelle Blue’ – a colour dreamed up by the artist himself.
Rue Yves Saint Laurent
General entry 30 DH
2. Behold a stylish outfit at the YSL museum
Familiarise yourself with the chic creative output of Yves Saint Laurent (him again) at the strikingly modernist museum that bears his name. Architecturally gorgeous in its own right – note there’s no external windows, in the local riad tradition, with brickwork and other lines designed to cleverly mimic the warp and weft of fine fabric – it contains hundreds of garments and accessories from YSL’s 40-year career, sketches of his cinematic outfits, an auditorium and a 5,000-volume library. All in all, it’s a good look.
Rue Yves St Laurent
General entry 100DH
3. Take tea at Riad Yima
Local lad Hassan Hajjaj revels in his unofficial title of ‘the Andy Warhol of Marrakech’. His work, typified by eye-catching and lurid fusions of Western and Eastern pop art, sharp portraiture and images cheekily culled from ads, is displayed in the perfectly social setting of this tearoom on a Medina backstreet. Park yourself on one of Hajjaj’s exquisitely upcycled chairs and nibble on a pastry while you take in the photography, furniture and fashion of a 21st-century Moroccan icon.
52 derb Aarjane Rahba lakdima Medina, Rahba Kedima
4. Feel the heat at Place des Épices
Moroccan food is of course famous for its diversity of aromatic flavours, derived from a kaleidoscopic array of colourful spices. Where better, then, to earn the ultimate kitchen cupboard bragging rights by buying a load of authentic spice from what literally translates as ‘the Place of Spices’. The open-air souk is crammed full of chatty merchants happy to sling you some ras el hanout, alongside basket weavers and other traditional trades. The square is ringed with cafés and eateries, for when the sweet perfume inevitable makes you tummy rumble.
Place des Épices
5. Soak up the atmosphere at Jemaa el-Fna
This Unesco World Heritage square is where you want to head for a memorable night out in Marrakech. For best results mosey along in the early evening to catch the supporting cast of street hawkers, flamboyant buskers, snake chamers and henna artists plying their trade. Bag yourself some quality barbecue street food and take in the sights and sounds (and of course magical smells) before picking a random roof bar to catch the perfect desert sunset. There’s really nothing square about it.
Jemaa el-Fna, Medina
6. Hit up a hammam
The classic bath-house massage experience has been a relaxation staple in this part of the world for centuries. For the full-on luxury experience, look up pretty La Sultana (at 403 Rue de La Kasbah). If organic pampering products are a priority for you, it’s Heritage Spa (at 72 Arset Aouzal) with its famous foot rubs and a special option for couples to enjoy a romantic shared hammam. Or for a more peaceful, low-key vibe with a choice of agreeably rough scrubs, try Les Bains de Marrakech (at 2 Derb Sedra).
7. Chow down on camel at Clock Café
Clock Café is most famous for its camel burgers, which are, admittedly, pretty delicious (plus, for each one scoffed 10 dirhams are donated to good causes). Still, the smart team that run the place do a whole lot more than grill humpy desert ungulates. A regular and constantly revolving programme of activities also goes down – there's everything from traditional Moroccan calligraphy and folk stories to cookery classes and live music workshops where you can join in the jam (if you're that way inclined).
224 Derb Chtouka, Derb Chtouka
8. Cut a deal at the Medina
No trip to this part of the world would be complete without the incomparable fun of haggling. So when you’re in the Medina hunting down a new rug, a natty pair of slippers, silver jewellery or a beautiful colourful lamp, be prepared to start low and dig your heels in. It’s been said that if the seller isn’t losing patience with you, you’re not doing it right. There’s no need to upset anybody, of course, but that sweet feeling you get when you walk away with a deep discount is more precious than any souvenir.
9. Find inner beauty at Bahia Palace
It’s a storyline worthy of a viral Netflix drama – a former slave who patiently rose through the ranks to become the mighty grand vizier, and then used his new-found influence to decorate the grand Bahia Palace. In doing so, that slave, Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed, created a one-of-a-kind feast for the senses, all psychedelic polychrome tiling, richly detailed stucco and zouak (painted wood) ceilings. The highlight is surely the vast 1,500 square metre courtyard, decked out in Italian Carrara marble. Bahia means brilliant – it’s not difficult to see why.
Avenue Imam El Ghazali, Riad Zitoun Jdid
General entry 10 DH
10. Knock back botanicals at Baromètre
Appropriately, perhaps, for a cocktail bar in a largely dry country, Baromètre takes its design cues from America’s Prohibition-era speakeasies. Not least because it’s tricky to find – look out for a large metal ‘B’ on Rue Moulay Ali, and you’re on the right track. Inside, some formidable mixology is going down; the spectacular brews accompanied by impeccably plated Mediterranean-inspired dishes. We'd recommend supping on a Marrakesh Market with whisky, cinnamon, orange and saffron, or a Moorish Coffee with honey, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Rue Moulay Ali, Gueliz