I was lucky enough to get a place on a trip to Morocco, hosted by the Moroccan Tourist Board, to find out more about the country and what it offers. Having never visited before and Morocco as a destination has always fascinated me, I jumped at the chance.
Marrakesh is a mere 4 hour flight from the UK but feels much further. Leaving a gloomy March day behind in London, I was greeted with the welcome warmth of the Moroccan sunshine, and the stunning views of the Atlas Mountains. A short drive from the airport and we were at our hotel for the next 3 days – the Movenpick Marrakesh. The hotel is perfect for a stay in Morocco, close enough to the Medina, but nicely away from the hustle and bustle. I’m not sure I have ever experienced a hotel which had such a nice smell – Jasmine filled the air everywhere.
On the first afternoon we headed for the Medina, an UNESCO World Hesitate Site. Entering the red walls and leaving the modern Marrakesh behind, the roads narrowed, the traffic reduced and it certainly felt like taking a step back in time. We were met by our guide for the next few hours who expertly led us through the labyrinth of streets within the old medina, without the guide I think I would still be there now trying to find my way out!
It was captivating taking in all the sights, sounds and smells, you can find everything there, from spices to lamps. The evening was finished off perfectly with a trip to Jemaa el Fna square, where every night the square fills with snake charmers, story tellers and musicians in a cacophony of noise, fun and community. We headed up to one of the many roof terraces to enjoy a refreshing mint tea and enjoy this unique sight from above.
Marrakesh, however, is much more than the traditions of the Medina. The next day we visited the Royal Palm Beachcomber Morocco, this hotels boasts a stunning golf course, and being slightly out of the city it is a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. We then had a tour of the stunning Royal Mansour Hotel, owned by the King of Morocco this hotel is the height of luxury with accommodation based on the traditional Moroccan riad.
Whilst half the party headed to the karting track, the others, including me sampled a cooking course. Not being a great cook, I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn how to make an authentic dish but actually I learnt so much more. It was interesting to hear about the heritage of the course venue, Le Maison Arabe, originally a restaurant founded by a mother and daughter in the 1940s it is now one of the largest hotels in Marrakesh with over 800 riads within the Medina.
The next day we headed into the Atlas Mountains, an hour’s drive from Marrakesh but well worth the journey. The mountains are stunning and I am just disappointed that we only had 1 day as I could have happily spent a few days walking. We were hosted by the hotel L'Amandier, a unique property which had views of the mountains in every direction. This was honestly the most relaxing place and I felt very happy chilling by the pool with a crisp glass of white wine watching our chef cooking a whole lamb in the traditional style, which would be ready in time for our lunch yum!
On our last day we headed off to the coastal town of Essaouira. A haven for surfers, there was a real chilled out vibe here. For me, the shopping here was much more laid back and I really enjoyed haggling for a few souvenirs. Our trip ended with a perfect final nigh party by the beach looking out over the magical Moroccan sunset – a perfect end to a perfect trip.