Try to walk down any street in Marrakech without the being surrounded by an array of spices, the intoxicating smell of tagines wafting in the air and the sound of clay pots being stacked up.
Marrakech is known for its street food, offering you some of the best local cuisine that’s cheap as chips, but watch where the locals eat, as those places are usually better value…and better. Alternatively, escape the street crowds and find yourself a cosy restaurant which serves wine (many of the hotels do, as do a fair number of Marrakech restaurants) for a glass of cold wine to while away the evening.
As the sun starts to go down, head to the main square, Jemaa El-Fnaa, where you will be overwhelmed by the sights, smells and sounds – and spoilt for choice! This market place is buzzing every night, filled with snake charmers, food stalls, musicians and little orange juice carts selling freshly squeezed juice.
This gives you the opportunity to eat local food cooked in front of you while sitting shoulder to shoulder with tourists and locals alike. Stick with a conventional tagine or a warming soup and Moroccan salads. Fresh fish from Essaouira and kebabs are a winning choice – but for the freshest fish of all, it’s worth a day trip to Essaouira which is a two and a half hour drive away. It’s the nearest resort to Marrakech on the breezy Atlantic Coast.
Once you’ve experienced the real hustle and bustle of Marrakech, you may want to sit back and have a more relaxing meal. A firm favourite, located in the Place de Ferblantiers, is Kosy Bar. Firstly, this sweet little square is perfect for a browse as its full of spices and beautiful lamps. Each shop has an open front so you can drift in and out admiring all the local work. Kosy bar is perfect for relaxing above the noise of the streets. It has a fantastic, though small, lunchtime menu complete with more European style dishes. The roof terrace here is the perfect place to relax with a drink watching the sun go down.
For something still traditional but a little more modest Al Fassia is the perfect spot with some of the best Moroccan food in town. Owned and run only by women this restaurant is one of a kind and has a great reputation.
Le Tobsil is another great restaurant, difficult to find but well worth it once you’ve made it. With only 12 tables and a traditional menu this restaurant has a romantic and intimate feel with a great atmosphere.
For a little more fun, head to Le Comptoir starting off with drinks on the roof terrace. Then head down to the restaurant for a mix of Moroccan and European food. As the night goes on, you will be surrounded by belly dancers and musicians encouraging you to get up and join in!
If you’re looking for something truly special you cannot miss Le Pavillon. This restaurant is unforgettable with tables nestled under orange trees in the courtyard and beautiful French cuisine – definitely a couple’s spot! After you’ve eaten, visit Café Arabe for drinks on the terrace.
For those who prefer more European cuisine and a quieter ambiance, Gueliz, in Marrakech’s smart shopping and café district has a Parisian pavement feel to it, with a choice of international cuisines from Asian to Italian. Gueliz is also a great place to sit back over a long coffee (try a “nus-nus”, half milk, half coffee, served in a glass) with sweet orange juice and Moroccan pancakes (“msemen”) come morning when the sun starts to warm up in anticipation of another blue sky day.
Where to stay: Luxury timeshare resort Hapimag Residences Marrakech is located in the city’s Palmeraie district, along with a number of other four and five-star resorts. It’s an idyllic oasis just a short drive from the centre of Marrakech and the resort organises a number of excursions including visits to argan co-operatives near Essaouira, or an afternoon of souk shopping with a guide. The hotel’s self-catering suites all enjoy access to a terrace or small garden and a large palm-dotted communal pool with sunloungers. At night the atmosphere couldn’t be more romantic, with lantern-lit pathways and rose petals sprinkled on huge, comfy beds.
Hapimag Marrakech even has its own library, as well as live music at night, buffet feasts and indulgent takelakt-painted bathrooms with the deepest tub and candles, for the ultimate bubble bath before a late night mint tea.