Magnificent Marrakesh: The City that taught YSL about colour
Updated: Apr 5
Our corporate team were recently in Marrakesh exploring as much as possible of this historic destination. But did it leave us feeling uninspired or was it hotter than a local tagine?
Leaving the grey skies of London behind our flight to Marrakech took around 3 hours 15 minutes.
On arrival at Marrakech Airport it was a bright, clean airport. We walked through passport control very quickly and easily. We had to complete a form just detailing our health, where we were staying etc.
Departing Marrakech was not so relaxing. We would suggest allowing extra time as even though you have checked in online with hand luggage only. You will still have to check in again to get a stamp. This means joining the queue with the other passengers who are putting their luggage in hold. We also advise keeping a printed paper copy of your ticket, as this is what needs to be stamped. It then can take some time to get through Passport Control.
The transfers between the airport were a pleasant drive of approximately 15 minutes from the airport to the centre of Marrakech.
Radisson Blu Hotel, Marrakech Carre Eden:
Situated just outside the old town of Medina. The Radisson Blu is is nestled between shops – traditional and international brands, cafes and restaurants. The hotel is contemporary, with some Moroccan accents within the décor. On the 2nd Floor there is an open plan restaurant which is cleverly separated from the reception area.
The hotel has a comfortable reception area with 3 check in desks. The reception area leads into a bar and seating area. There is seating at the bar and around the bar. There is also a quiet area with seating around a log burning fire, which was very welcome on day one of our Winter visit. Glass bifold doors lead out to an outside seating area with cane chairs with ample comfortable cushions. The bar offers a great selection of food and drinks and the restaurant has a varied menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, suitable for all tastes. The serving staff offer a 5 star service!
Rooms are quite spacious with plenty of hanging space in the wardrobe. The coffee machine and mini bar were well stocked. The bathroom was beautiful with twin sinks. The shower was set in a wet room style with a powerful and glorious rainfall shower.
During our tour of the hotel we found that everything is accessible via the 2nd Floor. Boasting 18 conference and banqueting rooms of various sizes, all have up to date technical equipment allowing online conferencing and presentations. Projectors are also available with large screens. There are separate break out areas for each meeting space, along with a wonderful outdoor area with seating shaded within individual cabanas. This would be good for a break out area or an outdoor reception or gala.
It has a aquatic pool surrounded by a decking area with plenty of sun loungers scattered around the pool area. You can also access the well equipped gym and changing rooms, leading to the spa area which offers some wonderful spa treatments, including the traditional Moroccan Hammam. We took advantage of the fantastic pool and sunbathing area for our final day!
When you come to Marrakesh, you must explore the old town, souks and Medina. Which felt perfectly safe walking around at dusk and at night. Something to note - Moroccan pedestrians have right of way when crossing the road via a zebra crossing, unless there are traffic lights at a crossing. In theory this is meant to work. However, motor cyclists have a mind of their own, driving on the pavements and driving down one-way streets and not stopping at zebra crossings!
The narrow cobbled streets of Medina are littered with shops and stalls displaying an assortment of herbs and spices showing a rainbow of vibrant colours. So much fresh produce ranging from dates and walnuts to seafood and fruit and vegetables. Lots of stalls and shops displaying their wears: replica hand bags, leather goods, scarves, rugs, tagine pots, shoes and souvenirs. For those looking for a bargain and up for a challenge, the local people try their hardest to use their best selling patter to sell their goods. They were comical, fun, passionate and very persuading!
There are plenty of places here to eat or get a coffee. If it’s a cocktail you require, you need to search the various establishments to see who serves alcohol. Some amazing roof top bars with panoramic views of Marrakech is a perfect way to relax and take in the views of Moroccan architecture. A good place to people watch over the hustle and bustle of the Medina. A must see is the roof top bar at L’Escapade, which was part of a Riyadh offering hotels rooms. This building used to be a theatre. The stunning Moroccan architecture was jaw dropping with brightly coloured tiles. A traditional Moroccan light suspended from the bright ceiling provided adequate illumination, lighting up the area beautifully.
For a spot of tranquility, why not try some of botanical gardens with orange trees bursting with ripe fruit, cactus plants. Along with other native Moroccan trees and plants. Another great thing about this is that it is in the middle of Marrakech and it was free entry. Probably the most famous of all would be Jardin De Majorelle – Yves Saint Laurent. It was very beautiful, tranquil, colourful, vibrant and has an Yves Saint Laurent memorial statue.
Overall you would never have believed that you were in the middle of such a busy city! The art work and library were very interesting. The architecture was amazing.
Buggy and Desert experience:
We were collected from our hotel by our tour guide and driven by a 4x4 to the desert. On arrival, we changed into the protective clothing and then met by our guides to be taken to a traditional Moroccan vibrant, brightly coloured dining area. Here we had our safety briefing which included how to operate and drive the buggy. The lead guide directed us from his quad bike in front and off we went. Taking in some beautiful and amazing views of the desert as we went. We had an exhilarating ride across the dunes through rough and bumpy terrain. Having to personally negotiating the dunes with it’s winding paths, steep dunes, bends and bumpy terrain was even more exhilarating!
What an amazing experience topped off with Moroccan pancakes with local honey and some Moroccan tea to finish. Much needed after our experience, refreshing and very welcome.
The Atlas Mountains:
Be prepared for an early start, but it's so worth it. We were collected from the hotel and our guide explained en route about the culture of the country and of the area we were travelling into. The 5 valleys when we drove through gave breath taking views of the mountains and each valley had different terrain.
Our first stop took us to a local shop where we learned about Argan oil – which Morocco is famous for. It can be used cosmetically helping both hair and your skin. It is well known and used as an anti ageing product too. Some ladies demonstrated how they made the oil from the almond nut. What oil was used for cooking and what oil they used for beauty. They also showed us how they make peanut butter which we tasted and it was delicious.
We continued driving in the mountains. We stopped to meet another guide who would be taking us for a hike through the mountains. This was also an amazing and exhilarating experience. Not only did we hike, this is where a winding paths had been made. We had to climb over stepping stones over the stream/river created by the waterfalls. However, not all the hike was taken via a path, we had to climb some rocks too which were not part of the path! We climbed up as far as the highest and largest waterfall within the mountains – 110m, this was at 1060 m altitude! What a site to behold. We could see the waterfall flowing to our left and then on our right we could see the snow caped mountains which is used as a ski resort.
We met up again with our original guide back at the car and made our way to our next destination. A Berber family were hosting us for lunch in their home! (Berbers are people ethnically indigenous to North Africa) Making our way to Kasbah Tamadot to meet the Berber family, they welcomed us into their home. We were seated in a traditional Moroccan area, which was beautiful with vibrant rugs and cushions and a very low table. Our lunch took the family 4 hours to cook with no electricity, just a stove and a pizza type oven to cook with. They served us some locally grown olives with rosemary, followed by either a chicken or vegetable tagine, vegetable cous cous and home made flat bread. We were then given locally grown oranges with cinnamon and Moroccan tea with mint.
Such a humbling and amazing experience and so much to discuss as we made our way back to the car. Descending back through the mountains taking in more breath taking views.
Verdict: Magnificent Magical Marrakech - A must go destination