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Best areas to stay in Marrakech

Soak up the best areas to stay in Marrakech

There are many different parts of Marrakech that visitors will enjoy staying in, and the accommodation types are just as varied as well. Choose from boutique hotels or restored riads, high-end villas or grandiose palaces. Venture slightly outside of the town and you’ll find tranquility in the retreats situated amongst the High Atlas foothills or Ourika Valley. However, the most quintessential way to stay in Marrakech, or Morocco for that matter, is the riad. This traditionally refers to a home built around a courtyard garden, but today it’s generally used to describe guesthouses in general; with their unique decor, they certainly make for a one-of-a-kind stay.

  1. Jemaa El-Fna
  2. Northern Medina
  3. Southern Medina
  4. Gueliz
  5. Palmeraie
  6. Ourika

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1. Jemaa El-Fna

Jemaa El-Fna is the pies-de-resistance, and as such is one of the best areas to stay in Marrakech. Not only does this bustling square serve as a convenient entryway into the medina, but the square itself has enough to keep you occupied during the day and night, with street performers (think musicians, acrobats, storytellers of traditional Arab tales) and numerous food stalls. Accommodation wise, there’s loads of options, from chic riads located off the main souk, Art Deco-style guesthouses and boutique hotels offering secluded courtyards and traditional hammam spas.

Best for: Those looking for a feast for the senses.

While you’re there: Visit the square in the evenings, when the performances reach their crescendo.

2. Northern Medina

It’s a slightly quieter affair in the Northern Medina, with local food markets, workshops and museums. If it's sights you’re after, head to the Maison de la Photographie, which depicts the ordinary life of Moroccans between the 19th century to the 1950s through 5000 photographs. Move onto the Musee de Marrakech for a selection of traditional and contemporary Moroccan arts, with a great bookshop attached. Once you’ve finished exploring, head back to your laidback riad or restored 18th-century house and make use of the foliage-full courtyards, art-filled rooms and large pools.

Best for: Those seeking the sights.

While you’re there: The Chroub ou Chouf Fountain dates back to the 16th century, and is UNESCO listed.

3. Southern Medina

To see a grander side of Marrakech, stay in the southern part of the Medina. There are enough sights here to fill a day or two – or more if you really want to take your time – with accommodation options spanning a range of budgets. A few are located near the popular Rue Riad Zitoun el Kedim Shopping Street, while others offer rooftop terraces facing the scenic Atlas Mountains. In this area of Marrakech, take in Badi Palace with its huge central courtyard, Green Pavilion and minbar (a stepped pulpit), before moving onto El-Bahia Palace with its 150 rooms. Although it spans a huge site, certain areas and rooms are still used by the current Royal Family, but from what you are permitted to see, it’s a great way to find out more about Morocco’s royal history.

Best for: Those wanting Moroccan grandeur.

While you’re there: Head to the Museum of African Contemporary Art for an insight into emerging young artists.

4. Gueliz

Art fans will simply fall in love with Gueliz, a lively area that’s filled with contemporary art galleries. To give an idea of the amount to choose from, there’s the Matisse Art Gallery which centres on local artists; Comptoir des Mines Galerie focuses on temporary exhibitions; Galerie Re displays different art forms, from sculpture to photography; while the David Bloch Gallery is your go-to for collections of street art. As energetic as Gueliz may feel, it’s not quite as hectic as the medina, and you can choose from minimalist guesthouses, soothing-coloured riads and budget hotels.

Best for: Art fans.

While you’re there: Galerie Tindouf displays rare Fassi ceramics, Islamic calligraphy and Indian miniatures.

5. Palmeraie

Palmeraie was a garden that once spread over 32,000 acres; today, most of the land has been developed into luxury hotels and villas. If it’s a slice of the VIP life you’re after during your Marrakech holidays, then Palmeraie is the most stylish area to stay in Morocco, with its Nikki Beach offering a high-end party scene. In terms of things to do here, you can enjoy camel rides, cycles through a maze of lanes or simply resting under the palm trees; it retains a tranquil vibe. As is expected, the hotels are slightly more upmarket here; villas offer heated pools, laidback hotels offer private terraces and other places offer a range of events from yoga and massages to excursions.

Best for: Glitz n glamour.

While you’re there: Treat yourself to a hammam spa.

6. Ourika

Looking for the perfect combination of nature, culture and seclusion? Ourika might be the most tranquil area to stay in Marrakech, and offers a real variety of places to stay. There are hilltop hotels with incredible views of the Atlas Mountains and Beber villages, while there’s also mountain refuges at the foothills of Jbel Toubkal. There’s also luxury mountain retreats – one is owned by Richard Branson – but at the other end of the scale you can pitch up at Ourika camp, which offers a swimming pool and steam bath! Families will enjoy the waterfalls, sculpture parks and Anima Garden botanical park, or an organised excursion into the nearby mountains and villages.

Best for: Families.

While you’re there: Tnine-l’Ourka has a great weekly souk.

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