19 Feb 72 hours in Marrakech Morocco
Daily flights from the UK and major European destinations, and regular flights from USA and the rest of the world make Marrakech an accessible destination for those looking for a quick getaway, yet worlds away from the everyday. Whether this is your first trip to Morocco or you’ve been here a few times before, a three-day stay in Marrakech opens up tons of new and interesting things to do. Here’s why.
Planning to arrive around mid-day will allow travelers to settle in to the riad, but also head out during daylight for the first time exploring the Medina. And hopefully find one’s way back! In fact, once been provided by the team at the reception with a detailed and personalized map and a cell phone with useful numbers, the first day should be spent wandering, getting comfortable with getting lost and seeing where one ends up. It doesn’t have to be far from 72 Riad Living, very well located in one of the Medina’s best areas, there is lots to see and do just minutes from our doorstep, and thus begins what I liken to an assault on every one of your senses.
After a coffee boost in the extravagant Bacha Coffee, reminiscent of Venetian Café Florian serving over 40 single origin brews with an enviably cake counter, start planning to visit the completely renovated Medersa Ben Youssef. Built in the fourteenth century and housed up to 900 boys studying the Koran, Medersa means religious school, and you can browse the old student dormitories and take in structure’s impressive woodwork. You can have a lot of fun peeking into small doorways and little rooms, some of which offered pretty awesome views of the busy street outside. The zellig, cedarwood and carved stucco here are absolutely breath-taking and the mid-day light shining through is the cherry on top. If you’re a history lover, then head to the nearby Maison de la Photographie to admire the photographs captured nearly a century ago. Just don’t be surprised if what you see in the photographs could be taken as you step outside the door!
Go down to Djemaa El Fna square just before sunset bathing you in golden sunlight. It’s a world heritage site for a reason, so grab a mint tea with a snack on a roof terrace and watch the square come alive. People-watching is somewhat of an art in Morocco. You could have stayed for hours watching every type of human possible walk across this square. From snack charmers to water peddlers, henna scammers and storytellers, the list goes on…Honestly pictures seem to work better than words in occasions like this.
Prepare your taste buds for the dinner. Marrakech is attracting a new crop of restaurateurs and chefs, creating a diverse culinary and dining scene in Marrakech alongside some our local favorites. Much to our delight, many of the new restaurants are mere steps away from 72.
Powdery pink walls and pastel purple chairs set on a black and white checkered marble floor – Les Jardins du Lotus is the new hotspot in town and a must-visit when in Marrakech! The restaurant is 5 minutes’ walk from 72, making it the perfect place for your first dinner in town, if you had an early start to the day. Mexican-Canadian chef creates a contemporary menu reinventing tradition with a unique presentation. The Shrimp Tacos – a must-try if you like shrimps are simply amazing.
Sleep in and lazy breakfast on the super large rooftop terrace at 72 is a must-do before venturing over to Majorelle Gardens, just 15 minutes’ walk from the hotel in the new (more European) town, gifted by fashion icon Yves Saint Lauren to the city of Marrakech. Saint Laurent once said “A visit to Marrakech was a great shock to me. This city taught me color” and if you visit this place, you’ll see why. Arrive early to enjoy the extraordinary desert garden filled with giant cacti, palms and bamboo groves. Then tour the Berber Museum, which is filled with Saint Laurent’s personal collection of indigenous jewelers and fashion from which he drew much of his subsequent inspiration. Continue following St Laurent’s development in the Yves Saint Laurent Museum next door housing thousands of clothes, accessories, jewelers presented in a dramatic all-black choreography. We suggest you to book in advance the entry tickets at 72 reception to avoid daily long queues.
To add an extra spring to your step grab lunch in the chic terrace of the Grand Café de la Poste and admire its beautiful colonial-style interior. After such inspiration, prepare for a shopping tour of the Gueliz area, where young Moroccan designers are now attracting international attention. Lalla for slouchy bags, Atika for beautifully made leather shoes in rainbow colors, and Moor for chic homewares, just to name a few.
No doubt you can’t come to Marrakech without doing a bit of shopping, so it makes sense to go back to the Medina and put on your best brave “bargaining” face. You’ll quickly learn that that saying “no” is pretty important, but it is really quite fun to negotiate and get into the frenetic vibe of the pulsating souks. Searching through a lot of crap, you can find thousands of hidden Berber inspired gems.
As the sun sets do not miss a glass of rosé at La Mamounia. The “wow” sighs just come out as you step into this iconic and instagram-able hotel. It’s a Moroccan fairytale and the hotel itself, completely refurnished during Summer 2020, is a destination to visit.
If you’re up for a night on the town, head over to the nearby Hivernage area where the best nightlife happens. For dinner show, Le Comptoir Darna is the best known with its belly dancers, fire eaters and other unexpected performers entertaining crowds until the wee hours and complemented by a lovingly menu which brings out the best of French and Moroccan cuisine.
There’s nothing like enjoying the breakfast from the super expansive roof top at 72 to start the day. From this higher perspective you’ll discover a peace and quiet you can’t quite find anywhere else. And such a range of incredible views from above, the labyrinth, the Koutoubia, the Atlas Mountains in the background, plus a spread of homemade pastries, breads, pancakes, jams, yogurt, eggs and, of course, coffee and tea!
After you’ve experienced the chaos down on the streets of the Medina consider that a change of scenery is always a great idea and plan a half day leaving Marrakech via scenic roads and head in to the Agafay rock desert just one hour drive from the city for a true bohemian chic experience, opting for a camel trek or a quad-biking experience for bravers, before enjoying a fresh lunch with breath-taking views and soaking up the last rays of sunshine before returning back.
A late-afternoon hammam is delightful followed by a one-hour massage. The hammam is the ultimate Moroccan experience and an integral part of local culture for hundreds of years. Not until more recently in modern times did many homes in Morocco have their own showers, so it was a place for communal bathing, not to mention a place for socializing. These days, there are many luxury hammams where discovering the sensual delight of this traditional care. The reception team will be at your entire disposal for SPA selection and reservation.
Then, we recommend dinner in our on-site restaurant, always rated among the first most well-known spots in Marrakech, to sample some of the best homemade Moroccan cuisine. While à la carte menu seasonally changes according to the fresh ingredients arriving in the kitchen, signature dishes include the tender lamb or beef Tanjia and the special hand rolled couscous, both requiring 6 hours to be prepared to give you that full 360 degree experience of sight, smell and taste.
Marrakech is a photographer’s dream and such a visual post. Don’t be surprised to snap around 1000 shots during your 3 day vacation, even more. Looking at them your friends will be wanting to book a trip to Marrakech in no time.