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October 17, 2018

There's something special about Morocco. One of Sarah-Jane's favourite destinations, this is one of the locations that first inspired the creation of her eponymous brand and our 2018 collection. Where else could we find the most perfect desert-baked pinks, amber scents and cracked leather slippers to tickle our imagination?

Morocco a gateway to Africa, peppered with natural and man-made wonders. From the vastness of its dream-like deserts and imposing mountain ranges to the colourful riot of its ancient cities, there is something about Morocco to please any visitor. We also love it for the food, the shopping opportunities - plenty of treasures to take home and once-in-a-lifetime finds - and of course, for the warm hospitality. For a first stop, we dig deep into Sarah-Jane’s memories of one of its major cities, Marrakesh.

Pictured above: the rooftop of La Sultana, captured by Sarah-Jane.


STAY

El Fenn

What boutique hotels sometimes lack in scale is often made up by well, style. There's a particular brand of character a smaller business can harbour - the unique flavour, the attention to detail, the little flourishes, the authenticity. When it comes to boutique hotels, El Fenn is no exception - a great modern take on Moroccan interiors anchors the atmosphere, while its three pools and excellent concierge service really take it to the next level. Soak up the mood-enhancing visual mash-up of beautiful handmade tiles and vintage furniture while you listen to the staff’s plentiful tips - all the local knowledge you’ll ever need. The El Fenn boutique - a tightly edited selection of the best local designers and artisans where everything, including the wall decor, is on sale - is set within the bar and restaurant area of the hotel, ensuring prime position to stock up on local treats while sipping on a mint tea.

El Fenn

Picture credit: El Fenn

 

La Sultana

For a more luxurious five star experience, you can’t beat La Sultana. Enriched by opulent interiors and impeccable service, this is sun-bleached perfection, soothing scents and historic provenance in all of their majestic glory. Located in the UNESCO listed Medina World Heritage Site, an afternoon in their luxurious hammam is a must for all senses.

Picture credit: La Sultana

 

Riad Mena & Beyond

For style and substance, head to Riad Mena - and its bed, bath and  'Beyond': tiered terraces overlooking a garden of palm, citrus and banana trees, the Medina at its doorstep. An easy 10-minute walk to the Jemaa el-Fnaa and the Mellah’s spice souqs, it is proof of owner Philomena Schurer Merckoll's globetrotting style and taste. Beautiful interiors and an easy sense of flow takes you from garden courtyard to pool patio and to the curtain-screened loggia - and beyond - via a maze of staircases. Bohemian, cool, elegant and unpretentious, it is luxury minus the fuss. We love it for the welcoming atmosphere that can be private or very convivial. With six rooms only, a great therapeutic menu (yoga, massages, Japanese calisthenics, detox menu and Tai Chi classes) and sumptuous décor, this is home away from home - you just may never want to leave.

As for the real 'Beyond', you'll find it only forty-five minutes away, in Riad Mena's country outpost, a two-acre permaculture farm at the foot of the Atlas Mountains.  The perfect counter-post to its buzzy city sister, this is a nurturing experience in a wonderfully grounding location - perfect for whiling away the days.

Riad Mena

Picture credit: Riad Mena & Beyond


Berber Lodge

A short drive from the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh is a tranquil lodge set in several hectares of cacti and centenary olive trees. There, a pared back way of living, home-cooked food and sleeping under the stars await you. One of Sarah-Jane’s favourite places to stay, the Berber Lodge is all about refined simplicity. Nested near the village of Oumes, we love it for its deep connection to the preserved Moroccan nature and for the calm of its nine individual lodges laid out in a Berber village feel. Perfect for that digital detox you’ve been craving all year.


Picture credit: Berber Lodge

  

EAT

Jemaa el-Fnaa

Immerse yourself in this World Heritage site at sunset, where the square comes alive with storytellers, snake charmers and acrobatics. Street vendor will sell anything from barbecued brochettes to chicken taNgines, hot fried fish and snail broth from steaming carts lit by fairy lights, so get ready to try some new flavours and soak up a truly authentic atmosphere!

Jemaa el-Fnaa 2

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons


La Famille

Situated in Marrakesh’s bustling Medina, enter through a tiny hole in the wall and you’ll find yourself in a charming garden full of olive trees. Feast in a fresh repast of vegetarian dishes while you sip on homemade lemonade and admire the calming, driftwood-inspired interiors. Finish with a strategic exit through the gift shop.
 

Picture credit: La Familia

 

Grande Café de la Poste

Atmospheric doesn’t get much better than this: an iconic colonial-era café where you can enjoy fresh salads and great steak and frites, all the while being surrounded by a setting worthy of a Wes Anderson movie. A great place to go at night for a drink to feel the old-world charm of Marrakesh come alive.

 

Grande Café de La Poste

Picture credit: Grand Café de La Poste


NOMAD Marrakesh

All jet-setters in the know will surely whisper the name of this modern Moroccan eatery. With a fresh menu and cool rooftop cocktail bar overlooking the spice market, this is a welcoming gastronomic feast sure to hit the picture-perfect spot.


NOMAD Marrakesh

Picture credit: NOMAD Marrakesh

  

SHOP

Majorelle 33

Sitting pretty just opposite the tranquil Majorelle gardens is a concept store known for being the Moroccan answer to Colette in Paris. Whatever you can dream up, 33 Rue Majorelle probably has it: dainty jewellery, wooden furniture, vibrant textiles, modish interiors and Warhol-esque Pop Art. Made by artists and up-and-coming designers alike, expect the cool local treatment on everything from artisanal clothing to unusual homewares.

33 rue Majorelle

Picture credit: Majorelle 33

 

Lrnce

A cool and contemporary take on the traditional items, such as ceramics and kilms that is a new take on traditional, and amazingly done: the kind of find oversized suitcases are made of. Obsessed.

Picture credit: Lrnce

 

Le Souk

No trip to Morocco is complete without a pit stop at the fashion fantasyland that is the Marrakesh souk. Set in the bustling energy of the Medina, it’s all silk caftans draped in storefronts, heaping piles of soft leather Moroccan slippers and crouching artisans hammering silver into dainty jewellery. A dream for homewares, fashion, knick knacks and food - plus it’s always good fun to haggle with the locals for the perfect wicker basket.

If you are time-poor to soak it all in, be sure to at least stop at Moustapha Blaoui, described as an Alladin’s cave of all the best interiors the Souk has to offer. Just down the road is the new carpet showroom by Soufiane - once you see his carpets you will never go anywhere else. Stop by Jardins Secret, a not-all-that-secret but fun garden in the midst of the bustle, where you can stop and recharge before you hit the shops again. Finally, La Fil d’Or is the best for traditional Baboosh slippers and cotton kaftans.

Picture credit: an artisan's tiles, captured by Sarah-Jane.

 

Kulchi Rugs

A beautiful curated selection of rugs by fellow Australian Cassandra Karinsky. Her new showroom is as breathtaking as her rugs.

Kulchi Rugs

Picture credit: Kulchi Rugs


V. Barkowski

Belgian designer Valérie Barkowski spent decades behind a slew of international brands before falling in love with Marrakesh and opening Dar Kawa, a traditional guesthouse in Morocco. Everything from the bedrooms to her showroom, located a few minutes away, is imbued with her strong aesthetic signature, mixing hand embroidered details and sumptuous colourful tassels. Save room in your suitcase for this one stop shop for luxury bed and bath linens.  


Flea markets

Dig deep and bargain hard at the local vintage flea market — find old silver and retro furniture, often sourced from old hotels that are being demolished. The best place to pick up Tamegroute pottery at the best price.

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons


Magasin General

In the cool industrial district, this large treasure trove has curated a collection of 20th century European designer vintage furniture, interesting objects and Belgian bed linen.

Marrakshi Life

Textile designer Randall Bachner produces all his own fabrics. In store, watch the fabric be hand loomed in front of you while you shop his collection of shirts, jumpsuits and harem pants.

 

DO

Visit a Hammam

The word magical may be often overused these days, but magical is the only way to describe a traditional hammam experience. Your trip to Marrakech is not complete until you are slathered in black - and yes, magical - olive-based soap and scrubbed until you are as soft as a baby. We particularly love the day spa at La Sultana for a truly luxurious experience - just one may not be enough.

Picture credit: La Sultana

 

Head to a local gallery

Gallery 127 is Sarah-Jane’s pick for beautifully curated shows on Moroccan photography. Bonus points for location: the gallery is nested in an incredible loft-like space which is worth a visit for itself.

Picture credit: Gallery 127


Museé YSL

The hottest museum opening for 2017, be stunned by the beautiful building of KO architects while immersed in couture gowns and the history of Yves Saint Laurent's time living in Marrakech. The museum also houses a library of over 5000 books on fashion.

Picture credit: Arcspace.com


Majorelle Gardens

Yves Saint Laurent poured his love into these gardens where he lived with Pierre Bergé - and the cacti, bamboo bushes and palm trees will forever thank him. The garden - all 12-acres of botanical paradise - has been gifted to the city of Marrakech, as is now complete with a gift shop chock-full of decorative pillows and handmade jewellery.



Picture credit: Lonely Planet

 

Beldi Country Club

Perfect for a day of tranquility for when you really need to hit the reset button, this is one special treat you should definitely indulge in. You’ll know it as soon as you arrive - a huge rose garden will greet you, and the scent is unmatchable and unmistakable. A dreamy retreat only 15 minutes from the Medina, this is the ideal spot for speaking the hot desert sun, swim in a tiled 50-meter pool or read a book from cover to cover to get you in full relaxing mood. Whether you choose to spend your day dipping your feet on the pool, taking a long nap under an olive tree or indulging on a beautiful fish barbecue (or maybe all three), a day here is a must to gather your thoughts and leave feeling utterly refreshed. 

Picture credit: Beldi Country Club

 

PIT STOPS

  • Dar el Bacha/Mouassine
  • Le Jardin for a souk pit stop
  • Terasses des Épices for lunch/dinner and a cool rooftop
  • Café des Épices, a great little sandwich/drink pit stop
  • Souk Cherifa 1st floor, below Terasses, lots of little boutiques
  • Riad Yima, owned by “ the Andy Warhol of Morocco”, photographer Hassan Hajjaj. Quite cool - make sure to go on Friday for the couscous.
  • Chabi Chic below NOMAD for contemporary take on Moroccan crockery.
  • Baadi Palace, absolutely stunning old ruin. 
  • Bahia Palace for Andalucian meets Morocco architecture.
  • Al Fassia - great Moroccan food down the road from Café de La Poste
  • Lalla for leather goods, bags and jewellry
  • ArtC for wild clothes and prints.
  • Corinne Bensimon for interiors and Anitan for made to measure rugs.
  • Sidi Ghanem / The Industrial District
  • Great colonial furniture and Belgian linens at Le Magasin Generale next door.

 

 

 


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