Serena’s Secret Marrakech
WHERE TO STAY
A jewel of find in Marrakech, this calm and elegant oasis feels a world away from the bustling city centre, despite taking just 20 minutes to reach. With 12 guest rooms and one apartment, the peaceful ambience and impeccable service ensure you completely switch off from the real world by day and enjoy blissful sleep by night. From the luxurious hammam and spa, to the beautiful swimming pool (surrounded by sun loungers and ideal for an afternoon nap under the palm trees), this hotel is guaranteed to relax and reset. At night, enjoy dinner of Moroccan marvels made with fresh produce from the on-site vegetable garden, then relax on the terrace under a starry sky. But be warned, you won’t want to leave.
Jasper Conran’s privately owned riad is set in the heart of the ‘red city’s’ medina and has an air of glamour worthy of the classic movie, Casablanca. Originally the central part of a caidal palace, the riad comprises six light and airy suites surrounding a uniquely wide courtyard garden. It feels like a home away from home, combining superb Moroccan craftsmanship with antique furniture, stylish textiles and lighting, and art from Conran’s own collection.
Villa seekers need look no further than Dar Arbala, a luxury residence just 28 kilometres from Marrakech. Offering plenty of room for a large group, the grounds have everything your heart could desire, from an Instagram-worthy swimming pool to a tennis court, hammam and gym. A stay at Dar Arbala presents the ideal opportunity to dip into the coveted books on your reading list. You’ll have plenty of time to relax in the lush gardens, sipping heavenly fresh-mint tea as you read.
Where to eat & drink
One of the most romantic spots in Marrakech, visit this boutique hotel to enjoy an afternoon cocktail or dinner under the twinkling lights of its magical rooftop restaurant. Plan to arrive half an hour ahead of your reservation, giving you time to pop into El Fenn’s world-renowned shop filled with local treasures.
L’Asiatique par Jean-Georges
If you are after a break from tagine, I highly recommend checking out this restaurant at the celebrated Marrakech hotel La Mamounia. The menu transports you to the Far East, conjuring one of most memorable meals of my recent trip. A highlight? Try the crispy salmon sushi, chipotle mayonnaise and soy glaze entrée. You’ll find yourself placing a second or even a third order.
With spectacular views of the old city’s minarets, this modern Moroccan restaurant serves fresh local produce and delicious vegan faire, too. Be sure to book in advance – you won’t want to miss this one.
Where to shop
We are big fans of Laurence Leenaert, the founder of LRNCE, and you might have spotted her work at Collagerie. Having moved from Belgium to Marrakech, she launched her own studio in the industrial zone of the city. It’s a must-visit for the fabulous range of ceramics, textiles, artwork and clothing, and she paints every piece herself. There are so many beautiful items in her studio, you’ll wish you had brought an extra suitcase to fill for your return home.
Bring the scents of Morocco home with you; there is an entrancing selection of perfumes, atomisers and candles in this beautiful shop.
33 Rue Majorelle
Don’t miss this concept store of unique finds, from kaftans and jewellery to easy to pack lifestyle items. It is just across from the historic Majorelle Gardens.
What to see
Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech
The iconic French designer was renowned for his love of Marrakech and this spectacular museum is a fitting tribute to that passion. Housed in a breath-taking modern, red-brick building, it boasts over 7,000 designs from Saint Laurent’s personal collection, along with photographs, sketches and a wealth of YSL accessories. Covering 4,000 square metres, the museum also features an auditorium, a book store, a café and a huge research library, making it a true Mecca for fashion lovers.
The Jardin Majorelle
Close to the YSL Museum and maintained by its foundation, this lovely botanical garden – designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle in 1923 – is a must-visit. Wander amongst its vast collection of cacti and tropical plants, linger by one of the many fountains scattered throughout the gardens and stop by the striking Cubist villa, painted in dazzling cobalt blue.
The Bahia Palace
In the mood for a little tourism? Take a trip to this labyrinthine 19th-century palace, with its many courtyards and riad gardens. Famous for its lavish decoration, you’ll find stucco walls engraved with Arabic inscriptions, exquisite tiled and marble floors, beautifully carved doorways and stunning cedar-wood ceilings painted with floral patterns.