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7 Jan

Why Marrakech is the destination for all five senses

Written by Nancy Lova

Image by @MerryBaldi

I’ve often returned to Marrakech and each visit feels like it’s the first time. Anyone that has travelled here would probably agree that the city is beautifully chaotic, with so much always going on, this city really never sleeps. From great sights, buzzing streets and aromatic aromas flowing through the air to delicious foods and sensual massages to leave you feeling silky smooth, in this article, I will discuss why Marrakech is the destination for all five senses.

See

Let’s start with all that you can see. Marrakech is a culture shock but in the most wonderful way possible. Being in a place completely different to home and filled with so much life and energy, I promise you the last thing you will be seeing are your notifications. Head to Jema el-Fna (the main Medina) both in the day and the night, it truly is a vision. In the day a plethora of storefronts can be seen selling decorative souvenirs, colourful babouche slippers and leather goods. If you wander through the narrow streets and alleys, you’ll come across fruit and veg market stalls and souks selling traditional Moroccan rugs or mountains of herbs and spices. I love admiring the Medina from a bird’s eye view so I always try and find a spot at one of the rooftop cafes to enjoy a glass of mint tea whilst taking in the scenery.

The magic happens in the centre of Jema el-Fna especially at night, this is when I believe Marrakech really comes to life. Girl, I once saw a peacock casually strolling through, a monkey chilling on a guy’s shoulder and a snake charmer with a python all in the space of five minutes. You’ll see street performers singing and dancing, trying to get tourists to join in as well as local women drawing pretty patterns in henna on the arms of visitors.
All the lights come on and a sea of colour emerges from dazzling lanterns available to buy, vibrant street food stalls to an abundance of dried fruits and edible rosebuds.

Landmarks and historical buildings such as El Badii Palace and Jardin Majorelle-Yves Saint Laurent villa should be high on the list of things to see too. Both are significant to Marrakech’s history and are incredible examples of Moroccan architecture.

Lupita Nyong’o for Vogue

Taste

If there’s one thing you need to do above all, then it’s to eat at one of the food stalls in the main Medina, No1 Chef Aicha is my favourite, she is the only female chef in the entire Medina and from what I saw, her stall brought in the most customers. If you eat meat, then I beg you to try the chicken pastilla, it is the most delicious sweet and savoury pie infused with a warm blend of cinnamon, spices, almonds, onions and eggs all rolled into one. I promise you will LOVE IT! There are some very yummy veggie and fish dishes too so no one leaves disappointed.
From street food to a more fancy experience, I suggest reserving a table at Comptoir Darna for a sexy atmosphere of candles, romantic interiors, belly dancing and mouth-watering food. Try one of the tagines, so good!! Take your tastebuds to a very cool underground bar called Barometre Marrakech to continue the night over some of the most extravagant cocktails you’ll ever taste.

Touch

Finding time to slow down whilst abroad is very important to me and what better way than through a massage? On one of my visits, I stayed at Les Jardins de l’Agdal and here they have a wonderful spa that offered a luxurious full body massage, mud bath and scrub, and steam. Oh, babe, I left with skin feeling smoother than honey.

Something else I love the feel of in Marrakech are the fabrics, especially pashminas. You may not arrive thinking of them but you’ll certainly want to leave with a few. They have the silkiest feel and in Marrakech, they come with the finest designs making it a great accessory to throw over yourself when heading out in the evenings for dinner and drinks.

Image by 1. Asiyami Gold, 2. Lupita Nyong’o for Vogue, 3. Myriam Baldi

Hear

You don’t need to listen hard to hear all the different sounds of Marrakech. Car horns, mopeds whizzing in and out of traffic and horse carriages strolling on by. There’s a lot going on. I personally enjoy walking through the souks and markets to listen to the locals having conversations amongst each other. I may not understand what’s being said but the conversations always sound wholesome and passionate. The call to prayer is the sound I love the most because of how quickly it brings people together to worship the most high. It’s a pure and spiritual sound that always stops me in my tracks and listen in admiration.

Smell

The endless choice of spices and herbs within the spice souks will tickle your nose and have you leaving with cupboards full of saffron, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and so much more. Now it’s a given that you will come away with bags of spices but something people may not always consider are body essentials. Perfumes, body oils, essential oils and clay masks, Marrakech has some of the best. I remember the first time I visited Marrakech and purchased a few roll-on perfumes, you know the little ones to throw into your purse? Oh, well, they were the sweetest scents I had ever smelt. Some were fresh and fruity, warm with wood scents and sweet and floral but never sickly or artificial.

I’ve been to a few places but Marrakech is one that always surprises me no matter how many times I visit. Many come with their intentions on what to do, already planned out but the best way I suggest to experience this city is to let your senses lead the way and do the exploring.