Magical Marrakech ignites all of the senses. The medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city dating back to the Berber Empire, with maze-like alleys where thriving souks sell traditional textiles, pottery and jewellery. A wander through the medina transports you to another time. No cars are allowed within the walled city but the bustle from motorbikes, tuk-tuks, donkeys and the sheer volume of people is quite incredible. The air here is filled with a heady mixture of scents, from spices and perfumes to petrol and refuse. The ringing of the call to prayer combines with beat of the drum and the hypnotic sound of snake charmers. The view from the roof of the Café de France over the Djemaa el Fna at sunset must be seen to be believed. The market streets that stretch from the main square were originally dedicated to leather but now sell all sorts.
Further north in the city is Rahba Kehdima, the apothecaries square ringed by spice stalls. To buy your lamps direct from the blacksmith, head to Souq Haddadine, where Harry Potter fans may be reminded of Diagon Alley – the cobbled street where wizards stock up on supplies.
OASIS OF CALM
Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech is the perfect antidote to the bustle of the medina...after relishing the frenetic pace of Marrakech, there is nothing more soothing than the tranquillity of a luxury hotel. Fairmont Royal Palm is a peaceful haven surrounded by sweeping countryside, with views of the Atlas Mountains, just 12km from the city. Designed to fit with the landscape, the hotel is formed from a series of honey-coloured cubes reminiscent of the fortified villages of the Sahara. The lavish interiors fuse the best of Moroccan craftsmanship with a sophisticated contemporary aesthetic. Floor-to-ceiling windows open out onto spectacular grounds filled with glittering pools and towering palms, while numerous archways and traditional moucharabieh add to the photogenic appeal of the place. At night, subtle lighting gives the grounds a magical air. An impressive selection of restaurants includes the poolside destination L’Olivier with its international menu, and Le Sabra for more everyday fare. Most notable of all though is the sumptuously decorated Al Aïn, showcasing the subtle flavours and spices of Moroccan cuisine, and blending Arab, Berber and Moresque traditions. Signature cocktails and the sounds of jazz can be enjoyed at Le Bar. While some will seek nothing more active than the spa – designed to mirror a modern riad – others will be drawn to the state-of-the art sports centre or the 18-hole golf course designed by renowned American course architect, Cabell B Robinson. All set amongst 231 hectares of olive, orange and palm trees.
This warm and welcoming resort has so much to offer.
Barter for lamps and rugs at Souq Haddadine
Visit the Jardin Majorelle
Get scrubbed at the local hammam
Eat lunch at Terrasse des Epices
Enjoy dinner and dancing at Bo Zin
FAIRMONT ROYAL PALM MARRAKECH
Km 12 Route D Amizmiz, Marrakech, Morocco
00 212 5244 87800