Photographer, illustrator, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards judge: mutli-talented creator Garance Doré – the driving force behind the Atelier Doré site and studio – is a fount of creativity and has an eye for life’s lovelier things. So, when she dishes about her favourite hotspots we sit up and take notes.
Fresh from her Mr & Mrs Smith retreat – the Art of Storytelling – at cool, colourful riad El Fenn, Garance donned her rose-tinted glasses for a glance back at the Red City, to bring us her guide to Marrakech’s best and brightest bits.
7 km Route d’Ourika, +212 5243 78022
We’ve coveted many a Zellige tile in our time; it’s frowned upon to crowbar them off your hotel walls, so this workshop’s bold, colourful concrete tiles, designed and made by Moroccan artisans, are a real find. Choose from chevrons, circles, and all manner of geometric shapes, in modern palettes.
322 Main Road, Industrial Zone Sidi Ghanem, +212 5243 56560
Not too shabby – these artisanal earthenware and glass kitchen goods look at once authentic and modern. But, if you’re not in the souk for dining hardware, their handmade soft goods (cushions, throws, bags…) are just as desirable.
Hotel Le Beldi Country Club
6km Road to the Dam, 1, Derb Arjan, Place des Épices Ground Floor of Restaurant Nomad, +212 5243 91279
Non-profit embroidery collectives, skilled potters, Berberian carpet-makers and other craftspeople have created the beautiful goods in the Beldi’s souk – we like the loose floaty chemises and vibrant rugs.
933 Quartier Industriel Al Massar, 110, 40 Route de Safi, +212 5243 58802
These hip, hand-loomed threads are cool-in-all-the-ways. Loose, modern silhouettes and custom-dyed fabrics ensure a suitcase full of utterly unique ensembles.
Sidi Ghanem 59, Rue Principale T +32 4734 68713
A little bit Basquiat, a little bit Berber: we adore these hangings and homewares, which give a modern edge to trad Moroccan patterns.
44 Znikat Rahba, +212 5243 75625
If your bare-board floors need a little love, this carpet shop has Beni Ourain rugs, handmade Azilal rugs, and vintage carpets in vivid hues and patterns.
Rue Yves Saint Laurent, +212 5242 98686
Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy lives on in the neon brights, vertiginous cacti, and flowering beds of Jardin Majorelle (indeed his ashes are scattered in the rose garden) that surrounded his Moroccan home, but there’s more to his story – get to know the phenomenal fashion designer better in this newly opened homage.
The Bahia Palace
5 Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid
The name means ‘brilliant’, apt since every last inch of this royal residence has been meticulously crafted: from its zouack (painted) ceilings to its intricately tiled floors.
Ben Youssef Madrasa
Kaat Benahid, +212 5244 41893
The oldest Islamic college in Morocco has been lavishly designed in Spanish-Moorish style. It dates back to the 14th century, but its elaborate accoutrements – Atlas wood cupolas, Zellige, and lattice-screened balconies – were added later; the students may be gone, but the madrasa still impresses.
Riad Yima Tearoom
52 derb Aarjane Rahba Lakdima Medina, +212 665 167554
Morocco doesn’t do half measures when it comes to sizzling colour combinations. Natural juices, heady mint tea and sticky pastries are served in this tangerine-hued dining room, which has a delightfully shambolic look with seating of upcycled African billboards and Eero Saarinen chairs.
Rue Yves Saint Laurent, +212 5243 13047
Very few gardens are as dramatic as those created by French painter Jacques Majorelle, then revived and maintained by Yves Saint Laurent. Around the electric blue and yellow Cubist villa at the centre, graceful cacti, palms and bamboo stalks grow, swaying high over lilypad-strewn ponds and merrily trickling fountains.
La Famille Marrakech
42, Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid, +212 5243 85295
Against a background of white walls and rustic wood, La Famille’s eye-catching, meat-free dishes can let their true colours shine. Flavours are Med-inspired, portions are generous and the garden terrace is a lovely spot to linger in.
Cafe des Epices
75 Rahba Lakdima T +212 5243 91770
Duck out of the Medina and into this chili-hued block for a cooling drink, if the souk’s madness gets too much.Wash down salads, sandwiches and tajines with mint tea or chilled fresh juices.
Zwin Zwin Cafe
Riad Zitoun Lakdim No4, 1st Floor, +212 5243 80707
The sunniest of colours and the summeriest of dishes make this cosy cafe a must-visit. Flop onto the roof terraces cushioned banquettes and fill your table with mezze, salads and sandwiches.
177 Rue Mohammed Al Béqal, +212 5244 49612
French influence is still evident in Morocco’s patisseries, but treats have a distinctly local flavour too. For toothsome cookies, fruity tartlettes and pistachio-crusted, almond-paste-filled elevensies, rock up to this legendary sweet spot and get stuck in.
Marrakech’s Mechoui Alley
North End of Jemaa el-Fna
This is the place for tearing into some tender, flavourful lamb, spiced with just salt and cumin. Tanjias arrive fresh from an overnight roasting in the morning, mechoui is cooked in buried clay pots, and a third option – roasted sheep’s head – can be stripped of its meat for the brave.
55, Souk Hal Fassi. Kaat Ben Nahid T +212 5243 78190
Styled as a traditional caravanserai (a convivial watering hole), this eatery encourages you to stop, flop and fill your boots with briouates and pastillas, alongside other fragrant, tart and spicy delights.
Derb Moulay Abdullah Ben Hezzian, +212 5244 41210
With colour-block rooms, modern artwork and restful orange-tree-lined courtyards, this riad can rightfully claim to be Marrakech’s most stylish.
5km Route d’Amizmiz, +212 5244 59600
Selman doesn’t do minimalism – on entering your gaze is glitterbombed with laden chandeliers, jewel-toned velvets, ornate doorways and other shiny distractions. But, a little opulence never hurt anyone… and you can watch handsome, purebred Arabian ponies strut their stuff as you brunch here.
La Spa Royal Mansour
Rue Abou Abbas el Sebti, + 212 529 808080
The Royal Mansour’s hammam is a vision in white and grey marble; one of the best places to be sloughed and steamed in. Pick from a trio of signature treatments and leave with glowier skin and a more chipper outlook.
403 rue de la Kasbah, +212 5243 88008
In probably one of Marrakech’s fanciest spas (who doesn’t love an oversize chandelier strung above a bathing pool?) the hammam sits amid coral marble pillars, behind an ornately painted door.
Le Bain Bleu
32, Derb Chorfa Lakbir Mouassine, +212 5243 8380
This burnished, cream-hued spa’s hammam is scented with roses, marjoram and eucalyptus. Massages and beauty treatments are offered too, and once you’ve been rubbed, scrubbed and washed, you can take a restorative snooze on the solarium.
Featured image is the Selman hotel