If you follow me on snapchat or instagram, you’ve probably seen that I spent some time in Marrakesh Morocco. I’ve always wanted to go catch some winter sun and spend time in the rose city and I finally did it! Turning 21 is a huge milestone and I had to celebrate by getting out to experience somewhere amazing.
We spent all our time in Marrakesh purely landing there by accident: the accident was that we found a deal on a cool site so could do the trip for under £1k (5* resort, all food and expenses included). There are so many things to do there, the city is so rich and multi-faceted, we didn’t even have time to venture out of Marrakesh and we still had an amazing time.
When to visit
The weather was good around 20 degrees in February. While I was out there, it was snowing in London, so the sun on your skin was an incredible treat. Locals mentioned that it can get as hot as 50 degrees in summer so if you want intense sun go in summer. February is low season so we really got to enjoy our resort and excursions without too many people around. Pros & cons!
Where to stay
We stayed at Hotel Tigmiza which is essentially a palace on the suburbs of Marrakech in a place called Palmerie, like 30 mins from the Médina. There are a range of rooms with themes, ours was Chinese themed, there’s also two pools, one heated and one main large one, like 3 bars, an indoor cinema, sauna, steam room, on-site spa treatments and gym. Breakfast at the hotel was fabulous, a buffet with the best French pastries I’ve ever tasted, with omelettes and Moroccan pancakes made right in front of you.
I know I’m gushing about the hotel, but it was honestly perfection and the staff were so fabulous. Architecture and decoration in the space is amazing and truly inspiring.
There are private transfers available from the hotel to the city centre twice a day so don’t worry about the cost of transport so much, unless you intend to stay out late, then a taxi from the Medina to the hotel will be around 150 dirhams.
Where to eat dinner
Tagine is a national favourite and Comptoir Darna’s Seafood Tagine was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted in my life. There’s also cool entertainment at Comptoir Darna – a live band and belly dancers performing from 10.30pm. We often ended up at random restaurants on our strolls getting a belly dancing lesson over lunch and lounging in an orange courtyard on another day.
On the rooftop of Hotel Pearl is a super cute Japanese restaurant with amazing views of the city as well as a rooftop pool and great staff and food. In case you get tired of couscous this is the place to go to.
Things to do
Incredibly beautiful garden! Spend the day here to make the most of the fee you pay for entry. There’s not a huge amount to see in the museum so it’s not really worth it but if you have spare cash, why not.
Horse Drawn Carriage
The horses smell awful but how often do you get the chance to ride around a city on a horse carriage?
Quad biking & camel riding
Sit on a camel and ride through the pink sands, grab lunch and Moroccan mint tea at a local house and then speed through the dessert on a quad bike. It’s actually perfection. We stopped at a Berber village to explore and also stopped on a mountain top to catch the #views. Indescribable, surreal experience.
Visiting the souks
If ever there was a time to be stingy, this is it. Try and pay as little as possible for everything and start your price as low as humanly possible and don’t budge. If your haggling skills aren’t a1, you’ll get finessed. Walk confidently and act like you know where you’re going, don’t try and even consider engaging in conversation with people trying to hustle you.
Don’t get a guide to take you round the souks, they’ll take you to their friend’s shops and get you to pay more.
Don’t give the woman doing henna your hand, they’ll try and rob you after they decorate your hand.
If the seller seems too enthusiastic just walkout, don’t get finessed.
Visit the argan oil producing ladies! Grab a bottle and aim to pay a quarter of what you’d pay in England. #dontgetfinessed2017
Take a wad of cash and exchange it at the airport in Marrakech. I exchanged money at Global Exchange where they basically forced me to get a pre-paid card and I had to pay a 300 dirham charge which was quite jarring as I really didn’t need the card. Keep your receipt and at the end of your trip you can exchange your dirhams for GBP again at the same rate you originally got. Don’t bother taking your dirhams back home as you can’t use them anywhere except from in Morocco. Some stores take dollars, euros and gbps but I wouldn’t risk not exchanging your money. One of the locals said the rate a bank in the city centre would be better than that at the airport but I never dared to find out.
The people are generally very pleasant. The staff everywhere were super helpful and loving and people were very welcoming. At least a basic understanding of French or Arabic would be super useful, I could at least pick up words in sentences and reply with some confidence as not everyone everywhere speaks English.
I hope this little summary of my experience is helpful for any of you hoping to visit Marrakesh anytime soon, I’ll be happy to divulge into any other parts of the holiday i.e. getting finessed or getting the shits or money in the comment section, let me know what you want to know! And share your experiences in the comments below!