Souks, spices and a shiny new Yves Saint Laurent museum: the Red City was a dream come true for Debbie Pritchard, who went in search of culture, beauty and desert sun and found this charming, fabled, fortified city sure knows how to turn on the style too.

Our Hotel

​"Let me start by saying, the Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech is absolutely fantastic!! And amazingly, having travelled all over the world, I can honestly say that this was the best hotel I have ever stayed in! 

Yes, there are hotels in better locations, and yes, there will be some with better facilities, but taking everything into account (room, staff, food, service, gardens, spa), I really cannot think of another hotel anywhere that beats this one.

Hotel Highlights

​Our Two-Bedroom Villa. Totally unbelievable, we definitely had one of those ‘wow’ moments when we were shown through its doors – one which never really left us throughout our entire stay. The rooms are fabulous, the space amazing, the pool is huge, the Jacuzzi wonderfully warm, and the technology super-impressive… we couldn’t fault a thing. 

The staff. Every single team member was incredibly helpful, friendly, and positively went out of their way to be of service (their memories regarding our preferences were exceptional too!). They really were quite remarkable. 

Breakfast. A good spread at the buffet, and superb à la carte. I hate to think how much weight we put on! The grounds. As good as anywhere I've been – beautifully landscaped, fragrant flowers, peaceful, huge, well sign-posted, and perfect for cycling (we had bikes to ride around the grounds on, which was great fun).

The Downsides?

​The only things I can think of (and neither really bothered us in the slightest) was that there are no views to speak of, either from the villas or the gardens – the property is all very self-contained. However, you really don't miss them and it gives you all the more reason to head out and explore. And while it can be quite expensive in-resort for meals, drinks etc, I have to say we thought it was well worth the extra expense – every meal was delicious, and the local wine was perfect.

Our Trips

​All our trips outside the hotel were really enjoyable and it's really hard to choose between them. We particularly enjoyed our two half-day trips to the Medina. 

We had a great guide, Mustafa, who had a fab sense of humour, was enthusiastic and always laughing, so as well as seeing some interesting sights, we had a lot of fun with him too. Uniquely, he also gave us a taste of everyday life in the city, seeing local amenities like a communal bread oven and food markets (where there were no tourists to be seen).

Highlights of Marrakech

Bahia Palace. Beautiful and though quite busy, there was something very serene about the place. Saadian Tombs. Very interesting but busy and we didn't bother queuing for the main tomb. 

Old Medina & Markets. Incredible. Fabulous atmosphere, colours, noises, aromas and lovely friendly people. 

Majorelle Garden. Beautiful, relaxing gardens and an interesting Berber Museum. 

YSL Museum. We only had a whirlwind tour but it was absolutely wonderful to see the collection of striking outfits and jewellery here.

Highlights of the Atlas Mountains

​Probably our favourite day trip; the scenery is fantastic and very dramatic. We loved visiting one of the Berber dwellings (although like everywhere that day, the hard sell to buy something did get a little wearing). We also enjoyed the guided waterfall walk (though after Iguassu it was a little underwhelming for me, and with tourist numbers on the rise, the climb was more procession-like than leisurely). 

Lunch at Kasbah Bab Ourika was fantastic. This is an incredible hotel in the middle of nowhere with dramatic views. It's an oasis of calm, but a slow and tortuous drive from the busiest market we've ever seen at the foot of the mountains, and the good food and delightful gardens here made for a really pleasant, relaxing afternoon. This trip culminated in a fun evening (an incredible atmosphere, very noisy, busy, and fast-moving) with great Moroccan food and a belly-dancing performance (which started out a little underwhelmingly but warmed up into an absolutely amazing show).

Highlights of Essaouira

​We did take a full day trip out this beautiful coastal city. The views were fabulous, the atmosphere outstanding, and the Medina so much more relaxing than Marrakech. However, while we did enjoy the trip (especially our rooftop lunch at L'Heure Bleue), it was a long way to go just for the day, and in reality the car journey wasn't as interesting as I thought it may be (aside from spotting the famous nut-hungry, tree-climbing goats dining in the Argan Trees). 

All in all, a fantastic trip and there's really nothing we would change. It's not too far to travel; weather-wise October really is a great time to visit with cool mornings, mostly mid- to high-20s during the day (though some days it did hit 34°C), and warm, balmy evenings; and we had the perfect mix of day trips and pure relaxation… In short - we loved every moment!"

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