Morocco may be a short hop, skip and a jump across the Med from Europe but it feels like another world. Salesmen flaunting their wares in the souks, robed figures rushing to prayer and ancient palaces decked with dazzling tiles – it’s easy to fall under its spell. Whichever city you choose – Marrakech, Tangier or Casablanca – you’ll be charmed like a snake on Jemaa El Fna in no time.

Need to know

Get to grips with the basics

  1. El Fenn: A labyrinthine hotel with a first-rate rooftop restaurant.
  2. Musée Yves Saint Laurent: Couture meets contemporary architecture.
  3. Marrakshi Life: Morocco’s definitive fashion label.
  4. Palais Bahia: Bahia translates as “beautiful” or “brilliant”. Need we say more?
  5. La Mamounia: This opulent hotel boasts five bars and four restaurants.
  6. Dar Cherifa: A 16th- century riad that serves traditional dishes.
  7. Maison de la Photographie: More than 10,000 documents from 1870 to 1960.
  8. Scarabeo Camp: Dinner in the Agafay Desert.
  9. Malakut: Perfect ceramics in a pint-sized shop.
  10. Terrasse des Épices: Enjoy a bottle of rosé with a view of the medina.

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Hotels

Hospitality at its finest

  1. Amanjena, Annakhil

    Glamorous digs

    Amanjena is an impressive collection of soaring rust-coloured pillars, turquoise tiles, shaded walkways, towering palm trees and jade pools.

  2. El Fenn, Medina

    Boutique beauty

    The interiors combine lavish contemporary furnishings with traditional Moroccan touches.

  3. Hôtel Nord Pinus Tanger, Medina

    Room with a view

    Housed in an ancient riad at the highest point of the medina, this hotel boasts stellar views across the Strait of Gibraltar. Rooms feature wrought-iron beds and stained-glass windows.

  4. Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca, Ain Diab

    Luxury lodgings

    Casa’s premier luxury hotel stands like a palace beside the ocean.

Food and drink

Smart bites and top stops

  1. Dar Cherifa, Medina

    Romantic and intimate

    As soon as you step into this riad’s high-walled 16th-century courtyard, the clamour of the medina feels a world away. It serves a simple à la carte menu and excels in tanjias (couscous- laden stews, whether with meat or vegetables).

  2. Plus61, Gueliz

    Modern Aussie

    Expect gyoza dumplings, homemade ricotta and fried cuttlefish with sweet chilli. Breads, pasta, cheese and yoghurts are made in-house.

  3. Scarabeo Camp, Agafay Desert

    Desert dining

    Within an hour’s drive of Marrakech, this camp-like hotel has an on-site restaurant that’s open to the public for lunch and dinner. It will even send a Jeep to pick you up from town.

  4. Terrasse des Épices, Medina

    Drink up

    Terrasse des Épices is one of the few haunts in the medina that serves alcohol, making its rooftop terrace popular for a sundowner.

  5. I Limoni, Medina

    Hidden surprise

    Behind a modest door in a quiet part of the medina, I Limoni serves Italian home-style cooking in a pretty orange-tree-filled courtyard.

  6. Le Salon Bleu, Medina

    Feeling blue

    A spiral staircase leads to the roof terrace of this small restaurant in the kasbah. Diners dig into plates of fried sardines with couscous against a blue-and-white backdrop.

  7. Umayya, El Hank

    Middle Eastern menu

    Take in the stunning view while you tuck into your dinner. The portions are more than generous and the speciality is fresh fish.

Retail

Shop talk

  1. Marrakshi Life, Hay Al Masar

    Market leader

    Randall Bachner’s clothing brand brings to mind the luxurious outfits of Ottoman sultans, plus a hint of wide-fitting French Riviera chic.

  2. LRNCE, Sidi Ghanem

    Worth the journey

    Instantly recognisable pillows, sandals, ceramics and more with a playful yet minimal design.

  3. Les Nomades de Marrakech, Medina

    Family affair

    A family-run rug emporium with some 22,000 rugs of every size and style imaginable.

  4. Gran Café de Paris, Ville Nouvelle

    Table talk

    Opened in 1927, this venerable café was once a hotspot for Tangier’s literati and has welcomed the likes of Tennessee Williams and Jean Genet.

Vocabulary

Local lingo

  1. Salam Al’aikoum: Hello (formal; literally “may peace be upon you”)
  2. Marhaba: Welcome or hello (informal)
  3. Shoukran: Thank you
  4. La’a: No
  5. Na’am: Yes
  6. Aafak: Please
  7. Inshallah: Let’s hope so or we’ll see (literally “God willing”)
  8. Alhamdulillah: Praise God (said when something good has happened, or just to say that you’re fine)
  9. Beslama: Goodbye

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