"A visit to Marrakech was a great shock to me. This city taught me colour" - Yves Saint Laurent
It was a certain someone's 22nd birthday last month but seeing as he was away in New York for the occasion and I was busy studying for my final exams we didn't get a chance to celebrate together so I thought I'd be a little sneaky and arrange for a quick getaway to the gorgeous city of Marrakech. I thought that for this trip instead of writing a post and separating my film photos I'd use the photos I captured on my film camera as the main imagery in the post so I'm afraid there won't be a Marrakech on Film post to follow this!
2 weeks ago we packed our bags and headed off for a very early morning flight. After 3 hours of napping and reading we flew over the city and landed at Marrakech Menara airport, jumped in a cab and headed to our hotel for the 3 days we'd be there, La Sultana. Amongst the craziness of the streets surrounding it, La Sultana was somewhat a sanctuary, the only tell tale it was in the heart of the old Medina was the calls to prayer that echoed out across the city.
We changed into some cooler clothing than what we'd arrived from England in and headed out to explore. I will hold my hands and up and say I am completely awful at not being dragged into a shop by a local salesman and sold all manner of spices I didn't even know I needed. I'm unsure how my ability to ignore almost everyone or everything walking through London didn't translate in Marrakech but let's just say we ended up spending far too much on clay face masks, Moroccan curry powder and tea. But it's all part of the experience so sometimes you just have to go with it!
After a couple of very hot hours wandering lost round the magnitude of souks we headed back to the hotel, it was time for a little bit of exploring of the different riads which were combined to form La Sultana and a couple of hours sunbathing before we got ready for dinner.
The hotel was impeccably detailed, every inch of the walls, floors, decor and bed linen were beautiful. Each riad had a different feel to it, whether it be white carvings or traditional mosaic floors they were equally stunning. The central hub of the hotel has a pool with sun loungers to cool off from the heat of the afternoon sun and is the perfect place to relax after exhausting yourself fending off salesmen in the souks! After showering and getting ready for dinner we headed up to the roof terrace to be treated to a beautiful sunset, a live musician and delicious traditional Moroccan dinner of tagine and couscous.
Our room had almost no natural light in it resulting in us waking very late and stumbling upstairs for a spot of breakfast on the rooftop. A feast of fresh fruit, green tea, juice, eggs and a couple of naughty pastries later we were full of energy and ready for day two of exploring Marrakech.
Today we had a joint Hammam booked in to scrub us down ready for the day, La Sultana has a beautifully ornate spa located within it's walls with a vivid turquoise jacuzzi illuminating the central area. We donned our dressing gowns and awaited our scrub downs. They recommend you also have a massage after your hammam because all of the oils used in the massage will be absorbed far better. If you do opt for a hammam during your holiday it's best to do it near the beginning as apparently it optimises your skin to tanning by getting rid of all the dead skin. We left feeling squeaky clean and ready to start the day.
The afternoon plan was to visit the Majorelle Gardens also known as Yves Saint Laurent's gardens, they're located a short taxi ride away from the Medina and they're absolutely stunning. The blue in the photo below, also known as Majorelle blue is a statement colour throughout, the gardens feel like a cool, paradise amongst the crazy, busy city. It costs 50 MAD to enter, (about 3 pounds) and it's definitely worth visiting, take a book, sit down and enjoy your surroundings!
It was back to the pool post garden exploring for some relaxation before we headed out for an evening of belly dancing at La Comptoir Darna in the new town. This restaurant is famous for it's nightly shows of belly dancing and fun atmosphere, it's a little more on the expensive end for food but it's worth the price for the food, entertainment and delicious cocktails!
Our final day was spent searching the souks for presents and eating in the cafes that overlook the main square after another long lie in! The fabrics, colours and carpets that line the little alleys of the souks are incredible, if I was decorating a house I would 100% come over here and buy everything I could afford!
We took a little break from some serious haggling on the rooftop of El Fenn (another riad) and cooled off from the midday heat. We were quite lucky with the weather on our trip, it wasn't unbearable but it was hot enough to sunbathe yet still cool in the morning and evening. I think if we'd left it a week later it would have been just that little bit too hot to explore as much as we did! Make sure you bring cool, floaty clothing when you visit as you'll definitely regret anything that's too tight.
We had an evening flight back to London so there was plenty of time to enjoy the last couple of hours of the hotel's beauty and relax before jumping in a cab back to the airport. 3 days proved to be the perfect length of time to spend in Marrakech, we saw and experienced everything we wanted, whilst also having time to relax and soak up the sunshine. Walking round the old city can be exhausting due to the heat and from having to concentrate on everything that was happening around you, so we were very grateful to have a this palatial sanctuary of a hotel to unwind in after a few hours of exploring. I loved the vibrance and beauty of the city and I can't wait to return in the future!
5 things you must do when visiting Marrakech
Drink Morroccan Mint Tea
Get lost in the souks
Visit the night market to wander round and experience the madness
Visit the Majorelle Gardens
Book a Hammam
* Thank you to La Sultana for an amazing stay, truly gorgeous hotel and wonderful service! *