Just a three-hour flight from London, yet a whole world away, Marrakech is a fabulous choice for a city break. Located in the south of Morocco, the UNESCO world heritage site sits at the foot of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, providing a stunning backdrop for visitors.
The main action takes place in Djemaa el-Fna, the oldest square in the city where, after dark, the place comes alive with music, performance art and even snake charmers (yes, really). Hungry? You’ll find the best street food here, too -- tuck into barbecued skewers, freshly squeezed orange juice, deep-fried potato balls and -- for the brave -- snail soup.
Beyond the square is a large souk (market) where you can haggle for just about anything, plus bars, restaurants and clubs to explore. A glass of sweet mint tea at a locally-run rooftop bar is an absolute must.
Accommodation in the city is noteworthy, with some of the most beautiful boutique hotels (called Riad’s) around – think family-owned, traditional, design-led and quirky. Most offer small pools, a god send as the mercury continues to climb.
Central to the spa offering in Morocco is the hammam or Turkish bath; visit a traditional one if you can or, if you’re staying in one of the many luxury hotels dotted around the city, book in for a paired down version which still includes the use of traditional black Beldi soap. For spas in Marrakech, escape to a renowned hotel and you’ll be relaxed and pampered in no time. Here are some of our favourites.
Four Seasons Resort Marrakech
Hundreds of dark pink roses greeted us when we arrived at Four Seasons, Marrakech -- a pretty and aromatic way to start our visit. The hotel lobby of this large resort sits in a light and airy glass courtyard; beyond are the lush gardens. Within the grounds is the self-contained spa, built, like the hotel, in 2011.
Duck-egg blue, the traditional colour of Marrakech, is the accent colour throughout the modern and stylish spa. This blends well with the calming tones of cream and natural stone. Le Spa reception has a retail area selling products by Thémaé, ila and Natura Bissé -- the brands used in the treatments at Le Spa at the Four Seasons Resort Marrakech.… Read more
Royal Mansour, Marrakech
Royal Mansour is a stand-out hotel in a city that has many amazing and luxurious hotels. Hidden within the walls of the old city, the Medina, it has everything you could ever need in a hotel, including a library and art gallery, a piano bar and a cigar lounge. The restaurants are overseen by 3* Michelin chef Yannick Alleno.
There are no rooms at Royal Mansour, but 53 "Riads", or traditional Moroccan houses, each with a private plunge pool, solarium and fireplaces on the roof. The larger ones have private Bedouin tents, too… Read more
The Espace Vitalité Chenot Spa at The Selman
Top French architect, Jacques Garcia, has created something extraordinary at The Selman. The design is a fusion of traditional Moroccan and ultra-modern. From the hotel entrance you can see the heavy fuchsia velvet curtains beyond and crystal chandelier hanging in the main reception. Beyond that is a large terrace, then a heated 80-metre pool stretching into the distance… Read more
The Spa by Terraké at Kenzi Menara Palace
Kenzi Menara Palace is about ten minutes' drive from the Medina, near the original city ramparts. Land is more plentiful in this part of Marrakech, now being developed as a tourist area. It has less old-world charm than areas nearer the Medina but there is more space to build. The immediate impression on walking into the huge reception area of Kenzi Menara Palace is one of space… Read more