Photographer, illustrator and one-time Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards judge Garance Doré is the driving force behind the Atelier Doré and an all-round fount of creativity with an eye for life’s lovelier things. So, when she dishes out her favourite hotspots, we sit up and take note. Fresh from a stay in Morocco, she dons her rose-tinted glasses for a glance back at the Red City, to bring us her guide to Marrakech.
We’ve coveted many a zellige tile in our time. It’s frowned upon to crowbar them off your hotel’s 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.
Not too shabby at all, 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
Non-profit embroidery collectives, skilled potters, Berber carpet-makers and other craftspeople have created the beautiful goods in Beldi’s souk – we like the loose floaty chemises and vibrant rugs.
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.
A little bit Basquiat, a little bit Berber: we adore these cult hangings and homewares, which give a modern edge to trad Moroccan patterns.
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.
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 surround 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
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 MERDERSA
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 tiles and lattice-screened balconies – were added later. The students may be gone, but the madrasa still impresses.
RIAD YIMA TEAROOM
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.
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 (officially known as ‘Majorelle Blue’) and yellow Cubist villa at the centre, graceful cacti, palms and bamboo stalks grow, swaying high over lilypad-strewn ponds and trickling fountains.
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
Duck out of the Medina and into this chilli-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
The sunniest of colours and the summeriest of dishes make this cosy café a must-visit. Flop onto the roof terraces cushioned banquettes and fill your table with mezze, salads and sandwiches.
French influence is still evident in Morocco’s patisseries, but treats have a distinctly local flavour. For cookies, fruity tartlettes and pistachio-crusted, almond-filled elevensies, rock up at this legendary sweet spot and get stuck in.
At the north end of the main Jemma el Fna square, this is the place for tearing through 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.
Styled as a traditional caravanserai (a convivial watering hole), this eatery encourages you to stop, flop and fill your boots with briouates (Moroccan puff pastries) and pastillas (pies), alongside other fragrant and spicy delights.
Jasper Conran’s love letter to Marrakech is as well put-together as you’d expect from a fashion designer, with just five suites to spoil only the luckiest of guests. Gardens perfumed with orange blossom and jasmine are enough to inspire an entire fragrance collection. Follow your nose…
The Selman doesn’t do minimalism – on entering, your gaze is glitterbombed with chandeliers, jewel-toned velvets, ornate doorways and other shiny distractions. But, a little opulence never hurt anyone… and you can watch handsome, pure-bred Arabian ponies strut their stuff as you brunch here.
LA SPA ROYAL MANSOUR
The Royal Mansour’s hammam is a vision in white and grey marble – one of the best places to be sloughed and steamed. Pick from a trio of signature treatments and leave with glowier skin and a more chipper outlook.
In probably one of Marrakech’s fanciest spas (who doesn’t love an over-sized chandelier strung above a bathing pool?) the hammam sits amid coral marble pillars, behind an ornately painted door.
LE BAIN BLUE
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.