24 Hours in Mar­rakech

Steeped in Moroc­can his­tory and cul­ture, Mar­rakech is a city that also em­braces moder­nity and creativ­ity. CNN In­ter­na­tional’s James Williams, host of travel se­ries ‘In 24 Hours’, takes us on a whirl­wind tour.

Bespoke - - MARRAKECH -

Mar­rakech is like a colour­ful jewel wrapped in a rich red dusti­ness, just wait­ing to be un­earthed. It’s a city that has long at­tracted the cu­ri­ous with the prom­ise of the ex­otic, the en­chanted and the un­for­get­table. And while she may now be firmly on the tourist map – with all the req­ui­site touts and trou­bles that come with it – there are still ways to ex­pe­ri­ence the won­der of this city away from the tour op­er­a­tors, so let's have at it. We start off at Riad El Fenn – set in a re­stored col­lec­tion of tra­di­tional 19th cen­tury’s for­mer palaces re­plete with wrought iron, carved wood and fil­i­gree plas­ter­work. It is an al­lur­ing place tostay, com­bin­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of both a high-end ho­tel and a mu­seum of con­tem­po­rary art. In­deed, its name trans­lates sim­ply as home of art, as it is also the Mar­rakech home of Vanessa Bran­son (co-founder of the cul­tural Mar­rakech Bi­en­nale fes­ti­val) who opened the riad in 2004 and dis­plays her per­sonal col­lec­tion in the graphic, stylish prop­erty. It is hid­den be­hind a non-de­script door down a dusty Med­ina road, and lav­ishly mixes bright pow­er­ful de­sign (in­clud­ing three pools, two of them lined in Car­rara mar­ble as well as a mas­sive rooftop ter­race) with the charm­ing ef­fort­less­ness that Morocco is known for. Here, pet tur­tles wan­der the prop­erty’s ex­otic hid­den gar­dens, slowly me­an­der­ing from richly coloured rooms through trop­i­cal squaresto huge vaulted – al­most pala­tial – com­mu­nal sit­ting ar­eas. We feel at home, and are re­luc­tant to ever have to leave. When it comes to food, you can't miss Terre des Etoiles, set against the back­drop of the high At­las moun­tains and the desert dunes. The jour­ney here, with its fi­nal stretch on camel-back may be alit­tle bumpy at times, yet when the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion is a pri­vate Berber tent at sun­set and a can­dle lit din­ner ta­ble set for two in the mid­dle of the Agafay desert, all must be for­given. The meal it­self is clas­sic Mar­rakech – over­flow­ing tagines, crisp breads and light-as-air cous­cous –it’s near im­pos­si­ble not to fall in love with your sur­round­ings, or at the very least, any­one thought­ful enough to bring you here. Of course, a trip to Mar­rakech wouldn’t be com­plete with­out the shop­ping. For this, we head just out­side the city to the deftly cu­rated M.mon­tague Souk, in­side Pea­cock Pav­il­ions, the home and ho­tel of de­signer and hu­man­i­tar­ian Maryam Mon­tague. Here, strik­ing tribal jew­ellery – many of Maryam’s own cre­ation – mixes with her ex­pert eye for vin­tage and an­tique finds. This is the shop you’d hope to stum­ble upon in the Med­ina it­self, yet never do, as in­stead you’re bom­barded with ven­dors sell­ing the ex­act same items on re­peat.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.