From the UK and elsewhere in Europe, British Airways (www.ba.com), Royal Air Maroc (www.royalairmaroc.com), EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) fly into Marrakech’s Menara Airport. Taxis from the airport to the city centre take 20 minutes and cost around €12 – make sure you agree a price before setting off to avoid being overcharged. The hotel can provide one-way airport transfers in a private, luxury minivan: €25 for three passengers, €35 for three and €50 for four).
The Moroccan state railway, ONCF (www.oncf.ma), runs inexpensive (but limited) services to Marrakech from Casablanca, Fez and Tangier. Look for TCR (Train Climatisé Rapide) trains to guarantee an air-conditioned journey in summer. You’ll find plenty of taxis waiting at the city’s charming, if slightly run-down, station on Avenue Hassan II.
Driving in Marrakech can be horn-filled and hectic, but if you insist, hire a car from the Avis (www.avis.com) desk at the airport. To reach the hotel follow, Avenue de la Menara to the city centre. There’s a guarded car park two minutes from the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Wind your way from the hotel through the Medina’s alleyways to Djemaa el Fna, the city’s main square, bustling with henna artists, snake charmers and belly dancers by day and tempting food stalls that pop up magically by nightfall. Duck inside one of the souk entrances and follow enticing scents and sounds through the labyrinthine paths; barter for bohemian bowls, intricate jewellery and opulent fabrics to treasure forever. The Koutoubia mosque, that most iconic of Marrakech sights, is just a short stroll away; if you want to explore further afield, a taxi can whisk you off to the Jardin Majorelle’s mini oasis of exotic plants, vibrant colour and Eden-like waters in no time (+212 (0)524 313047). A must-do cultural experience in itself, a hammam session also soothes tired limbs: you’ll be steamed, soaped and scrubbed from top to toe during this time-honoured tradition, which will leave you blissed-out and squeaky-clean. Book one at the hotel or make a day of it at the luxurious Les Bains de Marrakech (+212 (0) 524 381428).
A few minutes’ walk from the hotel, Villa Flore (+212 (0) 243 91700) serves elegant, French-influenced Moroccan food in a romantic courtyard setting. Try the pigeon pastillas and velvety baba ganoush accompanied by a glass of local wine. Helmed by the Chaab sisters and run exclusively by women, Al Fassia (+212 (0) 524 434060) is the perfect place to feast on Moroccan classics. Towers of pillow-soft couscous and succulent slow-roasted lamb draw locals and visitors night after night, so reservations are essential. Le Tobsil’s banquet is an extravagant affair set in a former palace; book ahead and come hungry for tablefuls of palate-pleasing starters, golden pastillas, buttery tagines and delicate desserts (+212 (0) 244 44052). If you’ve had your fill of all foods Moroccan, Bô & Zin (+212 (0) 524 388012) offers south-east Asian cuisine in a sleek tented garden. Slip away to the new town and draw out your dinner of red tuna teriyaki and wok-fried greens with post-feast drinks over at the bar.
Handily located just minutes from the hotel, Souk Kafé (+212 (0) 662 610229) is the perfect laid-back spot for relaxing after a morning exploring the souks. Refuel with a lemony chicken tagine followed by traditional pastries and the freshest of mint teas.
No visit to Marrakech is complete without an evening spent perched on a rooftop terrace, gazing at the city’s twinkling lights. Sip a cocktail at Kosy Bar (+212 (0) 524 380324), a million miles away from the hectic main square. After-hours fun can be found at international nightclub Pacha (+212 (0) 245 88400) – this local outpost has shisha pipes, bongo players and belly dancers.