How To Spend A Weekend in Marrakech, Part One

Followers of my Instagram will be fully aware that I've just returned from a trip to Morocco. We booked a last minute week-long deal to Agadir with a simple agenda of sun and sand. However, I couldn't not go to Marrakech if I was in the country - Gus had never been before and I was desperate to show him the city. It's one of my favourite places in the world. So we hopped on the coach (£7, comfy and wifi) and arrived for a two night break.

Now, I've stayed in Marrakech 4 times. I've done the enormous American hotel thing, I've done the compounds on the outskirts thing - but I'd never done the riad thing. When a friend recommended La Sultana I knew it was the one for us. Smack in the middle of Kasbah (part of the old city), the 28 roomed hotel is made up of five former private homes dating back as far as the 12th century. I expected to love it, but I didn't expect to be completely blown away... So much so I've had to split this post into two parts as I've taken over 1400 photos...

dress, Boden (previous season so now in sale here, also in pink here)

We were first taken up to the rooftop whilst our room was prepared and enjoyed fresh mint tea whilst taking in the 360 degree view of the city around us. Marrakech is known for it's vibrancy and the hotel is perfectly located in the thick of it, however, you feel as if you're almost floating above it in a little cloud of tranquility - it's hard to verbalise but the beautiful sun loungers and plunge pool seem a world away from the hustle and bustle going on just feet away from you. 

pouch, Elizabeth Scarlett / necklace, Missoma / robe, hat, slippers and towel; hotel's own

Having checked out our room (more on that below) we came back up to the roof ready for an afternoon's sunbathing. Marrakech is still very warm in October (around 30 degrees in the middle of the day) so it was perfect for chilling out and finishing my book - I read The Vanishing Act Of Esme Lennox whilst there, which I thoroughly recommend...

So, our room. We were in part of the African themed riad which I was delighted about as I'd read a review in The Times which said those were the rooms to hope for. Riad's are essentially traditional Moroccan homes, centred around an open courtyard. Downstairs was a gorgeous little lounge area called the Cavalier's bar, and even upstairs had lovely seating areas. 

dress, Boden (previous season so now in sale here, also in pink here)

Our bedroom itself really was quite something; a deep red boudoir with a huge bed and big, comfy pillows. One of life's great luxuries is being able to sleep with a duvet in hot weather, it's a small point but the air conditioning was amazing! Our bathroom was also quite something; gorgeously decorated with little Crocodiles worked into the design in all sorts of places - plus a big bath and a lovely waterfall shower. Ooh and the closet; smelt beautifully of sandalwood.

Whilst we're "in" the bathroom I thought I'd walk you through a few products I take everywhere with me. Even though in this case the hotel had brilliant (Clarins) products, I never take the risk and always take my own. Lots of you have asked for the details of the shampoo I've recently changed to; it's the Sacha Juan's Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner, here

For skincare, you really do need to get your skin clean after a day of lathering skin cream (Clinique's anti aging face one here if the only one that works for me and when it ran out my face blew up when I used a cheap Boots one) so I always take decent stuff. Dermalogica's pre cleanse balm is awesome, and I followed that up with either Nivea's Q10 day cream with Vitamin C in (smells amazing) or La Prairie's night cream and anti aging eye stuff - which I swear has actually removed lines from my the side of the eyes, amazing.

Make up wise I try to keep it to a minimum on holiday and give my skin a break, so I took the basics = my BBrowBar brow gel (keeps brows in place all day, even when you're taking dips in the pool), NARS' orgasm face stick which gives you a glow even over suncream and the only mascara I use; Bobbi Brown's Smokey Eye in black

Back to the trip, and once the temperature had cooled down a bit we felt ready to go and explore. The hotel is a short walk from all the key areas, and I really wanted to show Gus the markets (souks) near the main square. When we arrived I told him he'd want to buy everything, which he didn't believe me about. Sure enough, by the time we'd got down the first street he'd written a list of rugs, silver and home trinkets he wants to come and get once our house completes...

It also made me realise I am never buying anything straw, raffia or wicker from a high street store in the UK. The offering in Morocco is 100x better and a fraction of the price. By the way; it's polite to haggle over the price and the locals expect it. Whatever price they say offer them half of it and expect come out around 2/3 of what they originally offered...

After an hour or two the city can get quite full on, so we went back to the calm of the hotel and had a drink on the roof before dinner. I cannot explain to you how beautiful it was to see the sunset from the rooftop, followed by the calling from the Mosques for evening prayer. It's incredibly humbling and I absolutely loved it.

Dinner at the hotel really was out of this world. We were treated to it as guests of the hotel, but when we saw the end bill, we were shocked at how reasonable it was given the standard of the food. We both went for the French tasting menu and it was course after course of brilliant food. There is a Moroccan menu too, but we'd had a day of tagines already so wanted something different. Also really want to give a mention to the wine list because even I, with my amateur knowledge, could see that real through had gone into it.

I'll go more into this in my second post on the trip, but outfit wise Morocco was really easy to pack for. It's very laid back, but also pretty classy. Heels wouldn't work, unless you went with a low, block heel and everywhere is very boho. For wandering around the city to remember you are in a Muslim country, which should be respected. If you do want to go inside any of the mosques your shoulders and legs (to your knees) should be covered. I just carried a shawl with me in my bag just incase, which worked really well.

So, that was the end of our first day in Marrakech. On the second day we went to the Jardin Majorelle, Yves Saint Laurent's infamous gardens, visited the hotel's spa and went late night swimming in the main pool. Absolutely incredible. Check in here for when it's live.

Rooms at La Sultana are available via Small Luxury Hotels here.

1 comment

Angie SilverSpoon said...

Such a beautiful hotel, they seem to have got every detail right!!

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