7 modern must-dos in ancient Marrakech

May 23, 2017

Marrakech, the fourth-largest city in Morocco, has a history dating back thousands of years. And while that makes the city a terrific travel destination for history buffs, Marrakech is ever-modernizing, with plenty of new restaurants, hotels, nightlife hotspots, and other attractions popping up constantly. Here, seven new (and new-ish) places to hit up on your next visit to the city.

The Source

One of Marrakech’s latest hotel openings is The Source, which offers intimate accommodation in 13 rooms, all of which are completely different — and completely outstanding. You don’t need to check in to check it out: Enjoy a cocktail in the rosemary-scented bar while looking out on an elegant swimming pool surrounded by stylish deck chairs and furniture. Or treat yourself to Indonesian-inspired services at the spa and local food in the restaurant, made from herbs and vegetables growing in the hotel gardens. thesourcemarrakech.com

Fellah Hotel

Is it a spa? A Berber farm? A house of culture? The newly opened boho chic Fellah Hotel somehow ticks all the boxes. And does it well, too. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a library of more than 10,000 books to enjoy while taking in the stunning vistas of the majestic Atlas Mountains. The 10 hotel villas are beautifully scattered in a desert garden full of wooden sculptures, orange trees, and a sea of sweet-smelling thyme, rosemary, and lavender. Visitors can gather eggs and pet donkeys at the micro-farm, and indulge in Wat Po massages at the spa, before tucking into long, satisfying meals in the traditional restaurant. It’s the only place in Morocco that I’ve so far eaten tagine with lobster; that alone is worth a trip back. fellah-hotel.com

The Royal Mansour in Marrakech is regal and luxurious. Photo courtesy of Patrick S.

The Royal Mansour in Marrakech is regal and luxurious. Photo courtesy of Patrick S.

Royal Mansour Hammam

Royal Mansour is by far Marrakech’s most grandiose hotel. It’s like its very own Medina — but not in the lively, vivacious version you get with the real deal outside its walls. No, this is as refined, ritzy, and regal as it gets. The grounds are enormous and cover 53 different terracotta-coloured riads, dotted around gardens with fountains, ponds, and pools. Discretion is key: staff moves around via underground passageways so as not to disturb the guests. I’ve never been able to afford a stay here and, truth be told, I prefer my accommodation on the more personal side. But I still visit, not to check in, but to check out the royal spa. It’s spread over three dazzlingly white floors with an atrium surrounded by wrought iron that makes me think of a colossal birdcage. The pool lies in its very own orangery, and the many treatments are done with products made from local ingredients such as dates, argan oil, and oranges. I love the watsu soaks and the swish spa suites. But nothing — nothing in the world — beats the traditional Northern African hammam ceremonies. royalmansour.com


With its austere modern interior design, Nomad looks like it should be in Guélitz, the area of Marrakech also known as New Town. But who doesn’t like to be surprised? Nomad is located close to the spice square Rahba Ladima, which is almost impossible to find. But trust me, it’s worth looking for. Once you’ve gone through the doors you’ll find yourself in a dining room where old traditions fuse amazingly well with fresh flavours. From your table, you’ll be able to watch the hustle and bustle on the square outside in unspoiled relaxation. I recommend ordering a beautifully crisp bastilla filled with vegetables and goat cheese, followed by calamari from the coastal town of Agadir paired with a very original cumin-and-anchovy sauce. Round it all off with Nomad’s imaginative take on clafoutis with beet-and-carob ice cream. Incredible! Before you leave, make sure you pass through their shop, Chabi Chic, located on the ground floor. They sell some of the city’s most interesting pantry goods, which would make perfect souvenirs. nomadmarrakech.com

Maison LAB

Interior designer Martin Raffone commutes between New York and Marrakech, and has recently opened his very own furniture shop in the Medina. Here, pastoral Morocco meets modern Manhattan, in home furnishings and décor items mostly made by Raffone himself, though there are also objects for sale that have been hand-picked and collected during Raffone’s travels around the globe. (Raffone’s top interior design tip? Buy an antique rug: “They’ll immediately give your home a rustic Moroccan touch without feeling like you’re trying too hard,” he says. maisonlab.com

Beyond Morocco's ancient mosques and city streets lie a bevvy of modern attractions.

Beyond Morocco's ancient mosques and city streets lie a bevvy of modern attractions.

David Bloch Gallery

Whenever I travel to Marrakech, I head for at least one museum or gallery I haven’t visited before, and every time I find myself more impressed. You could easily spend your whole Marrakech holiday just soaking up its arts and culture. My advice is to start with a visit to David Bloch Gallery. It was among the first artistic establishments to open in the area, and over time the graffiti-clad building has become a significant platform for young, local artists from all around the Mediterranean. The exhibitions cover everything from street art to calligraphy: Lately I’ve seen both Sébastien Preschoux’s wooden sculptures and paintings by the famed artist Alexone Dizacs. Check what’s currently showing on the website — or don’t, and just show up. (Next up: The new Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Guélitz, which is where the city’s foremost art galleries are located.) davidblochgallery.com

Riad Yima

If you ever wondered what Moroccan kitsch might look like, your search is over. Riad Yima is the most flamboyant pop-art hotspot in the Medina; Hassan Hajjaj, a well-known and celebrated photographer and film director also known as the Moroccan Andy Warhol, is its mastermind. At Riad Yima, his imagination — combined with a passion for sustainability and recycled materials — has been running wild. The end result is a gallery-cum-boutique filled with furniture made from old traffic signs, lampshades created by fusing old fish cans together, and pillow covers sewn out of timeworn umbrellas. You’ll also find shirts, caftans, Hajjaj’s very own streetwear brand, RAP London, as well as a huge collection of his photography. When you’re done shopping, head for the swanky courtyard and order a pot of mint tea. If Hajjaj himself is manning the shop that day, he might even join you. riadyima.com

Getting there

Want to check out some of Marrakech's newest, hippest, most beautiful spas and shopping hot spots? G Adventures can get you there. We run a number of small group tours to Morocco that comprise a number of activities to suit any travel taste. We're excited at the prospect of showing you more of this bit, beautiful world — check out our small group tours to Morocco here.

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