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The Hustle and Bustle of Marrakech

Poppy, our marketing assistant, recently spent a long weekend in Morocco, here’s what she got up to.

Marrakech has always intrigued me. I’ve heard so many stories from family and friends that I finally decided enough was enough; I would simply have to go and experience it for myself.

My boyfriend and I had three nights to soak up this fabulous city and started off by checking into Palais Namaskar, a stunning hotel located in the Palmeraie and a real gem of the Oetker Collection. As we arrived at the hotel, the walk down to reception was honestly like walking into the Garden of Eden. The walkways were covered with the most incredible smelling flowers and as a first impression really took our breath away. We were escorted to our Junior Suite, which oozed luxury and sophistication, letting the glorious sunshine flood in. There was an enormous king sized bed, double shower and luxurious bathtub, but the crème de la crème was the heated plunge pool on the front terrace.

We set off to explore the extensive grounds wandering the pathways that link the hotel together, crossing pools and discovering acres of immaculate gardens. We lounged from hammock to sun bed taking in the surroundings before heading up to No Mad Bar to enjoy a cocktail against the silhouette of the Atlas Mountains. The perfect location for our first sundowner. Dinner at the hotel’s signature restaurant Le Namaskar, a French Moroccan inspired restaurant was delicious. The food itself was simple yet refined and some of the best we’ve both tasted. What’s more the service was faultless, if only I could eat there every day!

A visit to the Atlas Mountains was high on our bucket list and being only an hour and a half drive from Marrakech it’s a great option for a day trip. As we drove towards the mountains it felt as if we were heading towards the Alps, which was somewhat surreal. We met our guide and set off on a gentle 3-hour hike. As we made our way through the Berber villages we had a snowball fight with some of the local children, learned all about the history of the Berber people and met our guide’s family for a spot of mint tea.

On our return, after a quick dip in our plunge pool, we decided it was about time we made our way to Marrakech’s main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa. Palais Namaskar’s complimentary shuttle service was brilliant and allowed us to head to and from the city whenever we fancied. It wasn’t until we made our way into the Jemaa el-Fnaa that I fully understood what people meant by the ‘hustle and bustle’ of Marrakech. The smells and sounds were enticing. Groups of people huddled around local musicians whilst snake charmers whistled to us to come closer, and food stall owners beckoned us to try their cuisine. We ate our fill of a wonderful array of local dishes, fresh fish, kebabs, olives, aubergine and cous cous. You name it we tried it, and all for less than £15! We arrived back to the hotel exhausted from the day’s adventures to find the comforting crackle of a log fire that had been lit in our suite. The perfect excuse to crash out on the sofa and watch the embers burn.

On day two we headed back into the city to try out our haggling skills. Top of the list was a backgammon board. Despite being equipped with numerous maps we decided to ditch these and simply embraced getting lost in the old labyrinth of the world famous souk. The deeper we ventured the more interesting it became. Courtyards of spices, embellished dresses and piles upon piles of leather goods and ornate wooden boxes, there was so much to see.

We’d organized a camel excursion for the afternoon back at Palais Namaskar. We were greeted by our guide who introduced us to our camels Zizu and Fatima who had been were patiently waiting for us. As we set off for a walk around the palm grove, taking in the fresh air and watching the sunset in the peace and quiet, it was one of those moments where I really appreciated being able to experience the beauty of this magical country.

We reluctantly checked out and waved goodbye to the tranquillity of Palais Namaskar before heading back into the city to our next stop boutique La Sultana. Situated in the Kasbah, a stone’s throw away from some of Marrakech’s main attractions, La Sultana is a real chocolate box hotel and proud member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

With only 28 rooms and suites, La Sultana is made up of five small riads, each with its own unique personality reflected through the exquisite décor. You could just tell so much love and attention had been poured into the hotel, which created the most wonderful atmosphere. No wonder it’s constantly winning awards for the most romantic riad in Marrakech!

I couldn’t come all this way without having a traditional Moroccan Hamman, so off I went to the award winning spa to book us in. An hour later we had been washed and scrubbed clean from head to toe. Feeling 10 years younger we settled down in the spa’s serene setting to have a cheeky snooze.

Feeling revitalised in our new skin we wandered up to the rooftop bar for a quick drink listening to the call to prayer and the stallholders calling out to their buyers before heading down to dinner. We were shown to our table next to the beautifully lit pool and enjoyed being serenaded by a local musician who played gentle Kabyle music throughout the evening.  We embarked on a culinary journey through the five course tasting menu. Each course was wonderfully presented and my goodness did it taste divine! We sampled an array of delicate fish and succulent meat dishes followed by a selection of desserts which was the perfect end to an incredible long weekend.

Would I go back to Marrakech again? In a heartbeat! So if you are thinking of where to go next and want a destination that’s simply magical with a sprinkle of madness and adventure, Marrakech could be the one.

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