Thursday, July 21, 2011

MARRAKECH

BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA
Café de France – Place Jemaa El Fna; 011-212-05-2444-2319; among best-known places on Jemaa el Fna; large dimensions & excellent location make it convenient meeting-point & ensure it’s always busy; food not particularly inspiring; open terraces for people-watching; top floor especially; if lucky, fresh crêpes in morning (no one seems to know when they will do this); don't worry if veteran staff ignores you (they do that to everyone) & it has now become part of charm; oldest & most famous of slightly louche establishments surrounding main square; dates back to French protectorate; wobbly ceiling fans rotate languidly trying to dispel stifling heat, King Mohammed VI portraits hang at odd angles from blue & white tiled walls; inside, customers sit on faded wicker chairs sipping mint tea or strong coffee; where some of last surviving hlaykia (storytellers) congregate, reciting ancient myths, folk tales & legends to rapt square crowds.
Le Grand Cafe de la Poste – Boulevard el Mansour Eddahbi (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2442-2714; grandcafedelaposte-marrakech.com; terrace offers great people-watching.
O’Dyafy – 234 Boulevard Mohammed V (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2442-2626; odyafy.com; luxury chocolatier, Moroccan pastries, savory delicacies.
Patisserie Al Jawda – 11 Rue de la Liberté (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2543-3897; al-jawda.com; sweet & savory delicacies, featuring figs, orange-flower water, desert honey & other local, seasonal ingredients; can buy some and take over to nearby, Le Grand Cafe de la Poste.
Patisserie Al Jawda Plus – 84 Avenue Mohammed V (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2433-7777; al-jawda.com; tea salon featuring treats from Al Jawda, as well as savory items such as briouats (stuffed pastry cigars) and khlii, seasoned dried Berber beef (very acquired taste).
33 Rue Majorelle – 33 Rue Yves Saint Laurent (Majorelle); 011-212-05-2431-4195; juice bar that serves snacks.



BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Azar – Rue de Yougoslavie (near Boulevard Hassan II); 011-212-05-2443-0920; azarmarrakech.com.
Le Bar Churchill – Avenue Bab Jdid (at La Mamounia Hotel); 011-212-05-2438-8600; mamounia.com; black leather and leopard skin.
Le Comptoir Darna – Avenue Echouhada (Hivernage Quarter); 011-212-05-2443-7702; comptoirdarna.com; French Moroccan bar-brasserie with belly dancing.
Djellabar – 2 Rue Abou Hanifa (Villa Bougainvillée); 011-212-05-2442-1242; djellabar.com/en; campy-surreal.
Le Grand Cafe de la Poste – Boulevard el Mansour Eddahbi (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2442-2714; grandcafedelaposte-marrakech.com; terrace offers great people-watching; can have glass wine.
Kozybar – 47 Place des Ferblantiers; 011-212-05-2438-0324; among few places within medina that has alcohol licence; make for roof terrace for sunset drink and watch sky turn pink over storks’ nests and rooftops.
Lotus Club – Rue Ahmed Chawki; 011-212-05-2443-1537; raidslotus.com; laid-back nightclub-restaurant.



HOTELS
Amanjena – Route de Ouarzazate, km 12; 011-212-05-2440-3353; amanresorts.com; 32 pavilions and 6 2-story maisons; set within mature olive and palm tree oasis; emulates old Moorish pis (packed earth) buildings; centered around large basin, traditionally holding pool to collect water for irrigation; maisons and pavilions extend from basin, fanning out in 2 directions, separated by reflecting pools among lawns and vines; emerald-clay roofs, marble fountains, and glittering hand-cut, glazed tiles (zellij).
Angsana Riad Bab Firdaus Guesthouse – 57-58 Rue de la Bahia (Riad Zitoun Jdid Medina); 011-212-05-2438-8905; angsana.com/en/riads_collection_morocco.
Bled Al Fassia – Com Oulad Hassoune (Douar, Sidi Mbarek, Si); 011-212-05-2432-9660; alfassiahotels.com; boutique hotel consisting of several dars and riads; 12 km from Marrakech on way to Ouarzazate; overlooks Atlas Mountains to south and Jbilate to north; on 11 pristine landscaped hectares, surrounded by palm and olive trees.
Dar Seven Marrakech – 7 Kaa Sour (Medina); 011-39-034-7743-4272 (Italy); darseven.com; 3 floors; Prince Pietro and Princess Letizia Ruspoli’s holiday home; rented for exclusive holidays.
Delano Marrakech – Angle Avenue Echouada (at Rue des Temples); 011-212-05-2442-4242; morganshotelgroup.com; 73-suite hotel; spa, 3 pools, roof deck, and subterranean nightclub.
Fella Hotel – km 13, Route de l’Ourika (Tassoultante); 011-212-05-2506-5000 or 011-212-06-1969-9570; fellah-hotel.com; Fellah means “Peasant”; hotel intended to link guests with country’s culture; 11 acres of grounds, landscaped with indigenous cactuses, grasses & herbs; on-site cultural center, Dar Al-Ma’mûn, housing artist studio, cinema & library; 9 villas dotted about rural property, each of which has between 5-9 bedrooms, living area & veranda”; during warm weather months, this would be 1st choice; locals drop by to learn to read.
Harem Hotel – Palmeraie Estate (Bab Atlas); 011-212-06-7209-1886; harem-escape.com; for women only; set in luxurious private compound, overflowing with whimsical sculptures; worth special trip.
Ksar Char-Bagh – Palmeraie de Marrakech; 011-212-05-2432-9244; ksarcharbagh.com; considered by some as among top hotels in world; inspired by 14th Century Moorish architecture; luxurious, stylish accommodation with huge pool surrounded by giant palm trees and snow-capped High Atlas Mountains.
Jnane Tamsha – Douar Abiad (La Palmeraie); 011-212-05-2432-8484; jnane.com; house party vibe attracts famous types like Donna Karan and Brad Pitt; 4 rooms spread over 5 properties.
Le Meridien N’Fis – Avenue Mohamed VI; 011-212-05-2433-9400; lemeridiennfis.com; upscale with elaborate gardens and gorgeous pool.
La Mamounia – Avenue Bab Jdid; 011-212-05-2438-8600; mamounia.com; lovely, Andalusion and Moroccan atmosphere; very expensive.
Murano Oriental Resort – Douar Abiad (La Palmeraie); 011-212-05-2432-8666; muranoresort.com; super stylish; in sleepy resort area north of medina; 4 riads, each with plunge pool, house 37 suites with fireplaces; April-May are warmest with pleasant nights; rooms on west side escape direct morning light.
Naoura Barriere – Rue Djebel Alakhdar; 011-212-05-2445-9000; 86 suites; 30 private riads (home with internal garden), each with own pool; in Medina.
Palais Namasker – 88/69 Route de Bab Atlas; 011-212-05-2429-9814; palaisnamaskar.com; 12-acre, palm tree groved estate; rooms with private gardens and terraces, as well as villas with private pools.
Peacock Pavilions – Route de Ourzazate, km 13; 011-212-06-6441-4653; peacockpavilions.com; on 8.5 acre tract outside city; 2 stunning pavilions.
Riad Dar Khmissa – 166 Derb Jamaa (Arset Moussa Lakbira); 011-212-05-2444-3707; dar-khmissa-marrakech.com; 7 comfortable rooms with lovely rooftop terrace; delicious breakfasts.
Riad Farnatchi – Rue Souk el Fassis Qua’at Ben Ahid; 011-212-05-4438-4910; riadfarnatchi.com; 3, 450 year-old riads with 5 suites; personal djellabas.
Riad Mena – 70 Derb J’Did (Douar Graoua, Medina); 011-212-05-2438-1828; riadmenaandbeyond.com; 10 minutes walk from Jamaa el Fna square; exceptional & unique property; large courtyard with fountain is overlooked by bedrooms & lounges; in 2nd courtyard heated swimming pool; large roof terraces have covered areas ideal for lunch or dinner; lounge beds and sofas perfect spot for sunbathing after dip in pool; elevator stops conveniently at every floor; traditional hammam; bedrooms have king-size beds; staff consists of manager, chef, butler & housekeeper.
Riad Meriem – 97 Derb el Cadi; 011-212-05-2438-7731; riadmeriem.com; gorgeous; 1st choice; “Ivory Suite” particularly nice.
Riad El Fenn – 2 Derb Moulay Abdullah Ben Hezzian (Bab El Ksour); 011-212-05-2444-1210; riadelfenn.com; among medina’s flashiest addresses; co-owner Vanessa Branson has tripled its size since it opened in 2003; now encompasses 3 adjacent palaces, with 22 extraordinary rooms (featuring leather floors, plunge pools, and modern works by British painter Bridget Riley); favored by art-world elite and British media; offers cooking classes & market tours.
Riad Kniza – 34 Derb l’Hotel (Bab Doukala); 011-212-05-2437-6942; riadkniza.com; lovely, mid-range; run by Moroccans; great restaurant; weather-permitting, can eat on roof.
Riad Lotus Privilege – 22 Fhal Zefriti (Quartier Ksour, Medina); 011-212-05-2444-1405; riadslotus.com; after weaving down narrow alley in medina, guest enter through unmarked doorway and encounter sun-filled courtyard worthy of Architectural Digest; 5 guest rooms, 2 courtyard suites; fabulous; April-May best; 2 courtyard suites best, with Green Suite closest to hammam.
Riad El Mezouar – 28 Derb El Hammam; 011-212-05-2433-6960; mezouar.com.
Riad Noir D’Ivoire – 31 Derb jdid Bab Doukkala; 011-212-05-2438-0975; noir-d-ivoire.com; glorious.
Royal Mansour – Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti; 011-212-05-2980-8080; royalmansour.ma; will open later in year; owned by Morocco King.
Selman – Route d’Amizmiz, km 5; 011-212-05-2445-9600; selman-marrakech.com; 56-room hotel described as “mega-glam,” which, frankly, sounds awful; feels and looks like private palace; spa and stables.
Taj Palace Marrakech – Annakhil (Palmeraie); 011-212-05-2432-7777; tajhotels.com.



RESTAURANTS
Azar – Rue de Yougoslavie (near Boulevard Hassan II); 011-212-05-2443-0920; azarmarrakech.com; splashy Lebanese restaurant; elegant dining room.
Bougainvillea – 33 Rue el Mouassine; 011-212-05-2444-1111; good lunch spot; brightly colored courtyard café serving eggplant and mozzarella panini and avocado milkshake (surprisingly tasty Moroccan speciality).
Café Clock – 224 Derb Chtouka; 011-212-05-2437-8367; cafeclock.com; camel burgers!
Café des Epices – 75 Rahba Lakdima; 011-212-05-2438-1770; sip fresh-squeezed orange juice on roof terrace and write postcards.
Chez Chegrouni – 46 Place Djemaa Al Fnaa; 011-212-02-4654-7615; deserves to be taken seriously; no alcohol or reservations, but even Michelin-star-winning chef Richard Neat has stood in line; unfrilly decor, food & service; try couscous with chicken & steamed vegetables, lamb-based harira soup, tagine with lamb & prunes, or maybe just omelette & salad; try to sit on top floor with view over crowded square.
Le Comptoir Darna – Avenue Echouhada (Hivernage Quarter); 011-212-05-2443-7702; comptoirdarna.com; French Moroccan bar-brasserie with belly dancing.
Djellabar – 2 Rue Abou Hanifa (Villa Bougainvillée); 011-212-05-2442-1242; djellabar.com/en; among city’s best restaurants.
Al Fassia – 55 Boulevard Zerktouni (Guéliz); 011-212-05-2443-4060; alfassia.com; run by local women; real, Moroccan home-cooking; try b’steeya, flaky, sweet-and-savory pastry filled with minced squab.
Gastro MK – 14 Derb Sebaai (Quartier Ksour, Medina); 011-212-05-2437-6173; maisonmk.com/gastro.htm; if there were Marrakech Michelin, this would have stars; Euro-Moroccan fusion.
Le Grand Balcon Café Glacier – Rue el Gza (Jemaa El Fna); 011-212-05-2442-5959; marrakech-riad.co.uk/2013/10/le-grand-balcon-du-cafe-glacier; café is very plain, but best place to take plaza photos & people watch; menu not big, pizza, skewers & tagine.
Le Grand Cafe de la Poste – Boulevard el Mansour Eddahbi (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2442-2714; grandcafedelaposte-marrakech.com; terrace offers great people-watching; can have glass wine & lunch.
Le Jardin – 32 Sidi Abdelaziz (Souk Jeld); 011-212-05-2437-8295; café.
La Maison Arabe – Derb Assehbi; 011-212-05-2438-7010; lamaisonarabe.com; for hard-to-find dishes.
Le Marrakchi – 52 Rue des Banques (on Place Djemaa Al Fnaa); 011-212-05-2444-3377; lemarrakchi.com; only restaurant directly on main square that offers alcohol & upscale dining; doorman in Fez hat guards entrance, which leads up dark, incensed stairs to 2 separate floors (top floor is most popular, but lower floor is by no means poor option as décor is stunning); reservations strongly recommended; tables strewn with rose petals, dimmed lighting & belly dancers (9:30 nightly for 20 minutes); above-average traditional dishes (pastillas, tagines), as well as pasta & pizza; reasonably priced.
Dar Moha – 81 Rue Dar el Bacha; 011-212-05-2438-6400; darmoha.ma; occupies plush 19th Century riad; refined Moroccan dishes.
Nomad – Rahba Kedima; 011-212-05-2438-1609; nomadmarrakech.com; especially good for Moroccan salads & sides; profits go to local charities.
Palais Dar Ambre – 6 Dar Sebbane (Layadi); 011-212-05-2432-8491; costly but stunning French food in beautiful location; try escalope de foie gras and authentique risotto servi comme un cappuccino; also Moroccan menu with couscous royal au boeuf et aux légumes and pastilla au lait; request table on terrace overlooking pool.
Palais Soleiman – Boulevard 11 Janvier (Kaa el Machraa Dar Layadi); 011-212-05-2438-5238; grand and richly decorated restaurant; known for high quality entertainment, food, and service; with open air patio and 6 lounges.
Le Salama – 40 Rue des Banques (Kennaria); 011-212-05-2439-1300; atmospheric; spread over 3 floors; modern take on traditional Moroccan fare; celebrity hangout.
La Tanjia – 14 Derb Jdid-Hay Essalam; 011-212-05-2438-3836; letanjia-marrakech.blogspot.com; laid-back chic place with exotic wooden furnishings and great roof terrace; try lamb tagine with prunes or chicken with lemon and olives.
Terraces d’Alhambra – Place Jemaa el-Fna; 011-212-06-7989-0525; mostly for good views.
Yacout – 79 Sidi Ahmed Soussi; 011-212-05-2438-2929; where celebrities go; designed as Thousand and One Nights restaurant; location deep in Medina; aperitifs on rooftop to Gnaoua music; traditional Moroccan feast served in several different settings (e.g., beside pool in vaulted upstairs room); intimate glassed-in salon; or lush, cushion-filled main salon; fixed price includes unlimited drinks.
La Villa Bleue – 7 Derb El Marstane Zaouia El Abbassia (just off Avenue President JF Kennedy); 011-212-05-2442-1969; closed on Sundays and Monday lunchtime; gracious art-deco-style building with funky touches; French; try langoustine soup and pavé de boeuf à la Marocaine; good local wine.
Ziwana Art Restaurant – 5-6 Derb el Maada; 011-212-05-2438-0500; ziwana.com; almost Gaudi-esque; full of secret spaces (4 salons, music room, fumoir); book table by pool and try portefeuille de saumon au caviar de couscous Ziwana.



SERVICES
Fadila El Gadi – 011-212-06-143-6870; clothing by appointment.
Florence Teillet – 011-212-06-122-5905; textiles by appointment.
Harem Spa – Palmeraie Estate (Bab Atlas); 011-212-06-7209-1886; harem-escape.com; spa for women only; set in luxurious private compound, overflowing with whimsical sculptures; offers healthy food, foot baths and facials; worth special trip.
Laetitia Trouillet – info@lalla.fr; shopping guide.
Palais Namaskar – 88-69 Route de Bab Atlas; 011-212-05-2429-9800; palaisnamaskar.com; spa.
Royal Mansour – Rue Abou Abbas el Sebti; 011-212-05-2980-8080; royalmanso.com; hammam (spa).
Sahara Expedition – 011-212-05-2442-7977; saharaexpe.ma; mixed reviews but offers tours into Sahara to see Great Oasis Valley and former caravan routes.
Souk Cuisine – 5 Derb Tahtah (Zniquat Rahba); 011-212-06-7380-4955; soukcuisine.com; Moroccan cooking workshop; lasts half-day.



SHOPPING
Akkal – 322 Z.I. Sidi Ghanem (Route de Safi); 011-212-05-2433-5938; akkal.net; ceramics.
Atika Shoes – 34 Rue de la Liberte (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2443-6409; soft suede loafers; handbags, high heels, and purses, too.
Michele Baconnier – 6 Rue du Vieux Marrakchi; 011-212-05-2444-9178; michele-baconnier.fr; leather goods, bags, buttons.
Mustapha Blaoui – 142-4 Rue Bab Doukkala (Medina); 011-212-05-2438-5240; hg2marrakech.com/shops/accessories/---mustapha-blaoui---marrakech-morocco; one-stop shop for all things souk, but of high quality; legendary.
David Bloch Gallery – 8 bis Rue des Vieux Marrakchis (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2445-7595; davidblochgallery.com; art.
Farhana Design – Route de l’Ourika, km 7 (Douar Gouassem #3); 011-212-6251-2460; farhanadesign.com; designed kitchenware, etc.
Ain Kassimou – Ennakhil, Sidi Youssef Ben Ali; charika.ma/societe-ain-kassimou-administration-312033; originally built in late 19th Century for Leo Tolstoy’s daughter, Olga and later bought by Barbara Hutton; in 1980s, French sports billionaire Patrick Guerrand-Hermès bought & redeveloped as part of Royal Polo Club de la Palmeraie; now exhibits Guerrand-Hermès art collections; 176 paintings & other works on paper; also Islamic art, furniture, jewelry & weapons; 1953 portrait of Gianni Agnelli with rose from Marella Agnelli’s garden, painted by Richard Avedon; among sporting paintings is Horseman with Sloughi (Henri Émilien Rousseau); other important pieces include Going Out of Pacha (1869, Alfred Dehodencq), as well as paintings & drawings of Moroccan kasbahs by Edy Legrand; also, Girl Carrying Water in Garden of Majorelle (Jacques Majorelle) & Fountain of Bab el-Oued (Charles-Théodore Frère); gift shop carries confits and other great souvenirs.
Kif Kif by Stef – 8 Rue des Ksours (Medina); 011-212-6108-2041; kifkifbystef.com; cotton clothing.
Kulchi – 1 Rue de des Ksours (Medina); 011-212-05-2442-9177; t-shirts.
Lalla – 1st Floor, Souk Cherifia, Sidi Abdelaziz; 011-212-06-6147-7228; lalla.fr; leather handbags.
La Maison Bahira – Sidi Abdelaziz (Souk Cherifia, 1st Floor); 011-212-05-2438-6365; maison-bahira.com; handwoven textiles.
La Manufacture de Vetements pour Enfants Sages – 44 Rue des Anciens Marrakchis (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2444-6704; children’s stuff.
Moor – 7 Rue des Anciens Marrakchis (Gueliz); 011-212-05-2445-8274; akbardelights.com; diverse items such as leather floor pillows and tunics.
Scenes de Lin – 70 Rue de la Liberte; 011-212-05-2443-6108; scenes-de-lin.com; cotton materials.
33 Rue Majorelle – 33 Rue Yves Saint Laurent (Majorelle); 011-212-05-2431-4195; chic concept store that sells fashion and housewares.



SIGHTS & SITES
Ben Youssef Medersa – Rue Souk el Khemis (Medina); 011-212-04-439-0911 or 011-212-04-439-0912; museum; former Koranic school attached to Ali Ben Youssef Mosque; built in 16th Century, complete with stunning stucco ceilings and carved wooden screens.
Centre Artisanale – Rue de la Kasbah; complex offering rugs, jewelery, pottery, slippers, and more at largely fixed prices (although asking for small discount may prove fruitful).
Djemaa el Fnaa – central square at entrance to souk; in evening, becomes medieval pageant, filled with snake-charmers, storytellers, dancers, and medicine-men; drums beaten, pipes played, and west of square sizzles with host of barbecued-food stalls serving kebabs, sausages, and eggplant salads.
Jardin Majorelle – Safi Boulevard Marrakech; 011-212-05-2430-1852; jardinmajorelle.com; created as private garden by French artist Jacques Majorelle in 1920s; after period of neglect, bought by Yves Saint Laurent who restored it as urban oasis in 1980s; wander through palms, tree ferns, bamboos, and cacti; open 8-5 daily.
Maison de la Photographie – 46 Ahal Fes; 011-212-05-2438-5721; maison-delaphotographie.com; restored fondouk (inn) houses collection documenting Berber (including Jewish Berbers) life and tradition; excellent roof-top café with Medina view.
Medina – dating back 1K years, much rebuilt over ages, medina’s red walls form 10km circumference around map-defying labyrinth of medieval-like alleyways; in south is kasbah (royal quarter), with King’s palace and 2 former royal residences, Palais El Badi and Palais de la Bahia; west and slightly to north of these is minaret of 12th Century Koutoubia Mosque (non-Islamic visitors not allowed in), which towers over Place Djemaa el Fna, vast triangle that is city’s great meeting point, just to east; medina’s religious heart is around Ali Ben Youssef Mosque.
Musée d’Art Islamique – Safi Boulevard Marrakech (within Jardin Majorelle); 011-212-02-430-1852; jardinmajorelle.com; beautifully lit series of 4 rooms; wall hangings, richly textured fabrics and lithographs by Jacques Majorelle, as well as 14th-15th Century Korans and illustrated prayer books.
Musée de Marrakech – Place Ben Youssef; 011-212-05-2444-1893; grand, 19th Century palace now housing exhibitions; cool café is quiet haven for tea.
Souk Cherifa – main souk (market) is most colorful part of town; web of bazaars stretching from north side of Djemaa el Fna (more or less) to Ali Ben Youssef Mosque; narrow lanes lined with stalls selling pottery, woodcraft, spices, and endless varieties of baboush (slipper-like shoes).

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