And why am I going to Marrakesh? Well that goes without saying.
Marrakesh is Morroco’s second biggest city and top destination. As Southern Europe’s exotic playground, it’s a short plain hop away from Paris or Madrid. The instant immersion in local saharan culture might come as a shock at the airport’s border control, but you’ll feel absolutely eager for further adventure as soon as your driver whisks you away into the city centre. The chaos, the madening traffic, the sheer excitement and vibrancy of it all! It’s as if you’re visiting a proto-Manhattan of the 14th century, fitted with all the convenient amenities of today.
El Fenn – @David Lotus
I’ve discovered Marrakesh a long while ago, mainly because Yves Saint Laurent is never wrong, and if he lived there half the year he was certainly on to something. And wasn’t he just! What first took me was the pervading scent, a unique and enticing mixture of spice and leather that pretty much assaults you. You either resist it or just let go, and to this day I’ve kept to the latter.
And then there’s the souk. Getting lost in the labyrinth of shoplined alleys might seeem menacing at first, but the sheer amount of the most various vibrant and colorfull stuff on offer just intoxicates you. This is the place to free that visceral, unbounded shopper inside of you. And they let you bargain.
Foodwise, this is the land of Couscous and Tagine, but even your grandma knows that already. But there’s one thing, and one thing only you should absolutely not miss: Pigeon Pastilla. More on this later.
Marrakesh is a french ex-pat haven, and there’s not a single Parisian I’ve met that is not – or isn’t friends with someone – thinking about buying a Ryad and turning it into a boutique hospitality haven. I usually stay at Noir d’Ivoire for a few days of deep souking. A gem of a place, just that bit north of all the heavier action, super convenient for all the mandatory sightseeing, boasting fabulous interior design and the most enchanting hospitality team on this side of the Mediterranean.
Those seeking a less adventurous experience should definitely stay at the city’s grand dame La Mamounia, a most fabulous western fantasia surrounded by orange groves, with that post-colonial ambience that alows you to be there without actually taking it all in at once.
All the big hotel players came to town eventually, and right now they’ve all set up camp at the Palmeraie (the “Palm Grove”), in the Southern suburbs. My adress of choice is the Four Seasons, just because I know how and why I want to relax, and some people just know how to do that better than other people.
El Fenn – @David Lotus
This time around however, I’m venturing further down to explore the breathtaking landscape of the Atlas! I’m looking forward to my stay at the Kasbah Tamadot, Virgins exquisite resort perched atop the mountainous frontier before the sandy infinity of the Sahara. Who knows, I might even have a cocktail with Mr. Branson. Watch this space.