Marrakech Shopping & Travel: SECRETS OF THE SOUKS
My travel partner-in-glam, CTV’s Jeremy Szafron joined me on a recent trip to Marrakech, Morocco. Here are our tips for making your way through the Medina…
SHOP IT: Even Leonardo DiCaprio has wandered the Souks – Arabic for a market of closets. Seriously, what could be more fun than shopping closets? The Souks and the famous Jemaa El Fna Square burst at night with cobras, dancing, and shopping. Don’t want to deal with crazy markets? Complexe d’Artisant is a fixed price shop. It has two massive white horse statues at the entry on Rue de la Kasbah (“Rock the Kasbah!”).
The Souks are full of Argan oil or spices, but we opted for Herboristerie Palais El Badii (22 bis Arset lamaach Tourag jdad). Shopping here was entertaining as the staff educated us on local home remedies and good deals.
Leather was our favorite score. We were taken to a tannery, which was an experience in itself. The smell was awful!! We were given handfuls of mint to inhale with the instructions, “gas mask, gas mask.” They didn’t help much, but Jeremy managed to buy an amazing bright orange, camel weekender bag, and I got the softest, goat cushion (‘pouf’ as locals say) with pink and cream patches and gold foil embossing – very Moroccan!
REST IT: You CANNOT go to Marrakech without partaking in a Hammam — Jeremy went every day! I think he got addicted to the Gommage scrubs and mint tea after the steams. Hammam Ziani is a great budget option and was lovely except for whatever the ladies tried to comb my hair with – no vat of Argan oil could have made that better. Mille & une Nuits Hammam Spa and Le Bain Bleu are fantastic upscale picks.
STAY IT: Hotel La Mamounia is known locally as the “Sex & the City hotel,” as it’s where the SATC2 cast opted to stay. Our picks for a luxury escape would be the Sofitel (best pool) or Place de l’Hivernage (best service).
EAT IT: Le Salama was silly fun playing with Fez hats over great food. It was probably the most glam restaurant we went to and home to many Nikki Beach hipsters. If you’re in the mood for cocktails, dJellabar is a fantastic martini spot. You’ll love the pictures of pop icons like Marilyn Monroe, Chairman Mao to Elizabeth Taylor in their classic poses, but pictured Moroccan-style with Fez hats.
A must do is the Terrasse des Espices Restaurant, right in the Souks and crowns the best rooftop and authentic tangines of lamb and figs, but the highlight of the trip was Le Comptoir. Some may say it’s a bit old now, but I defend it’s a Marrakech staple. With fantastic meals, the best belly dancing, and the opportunity to experience a hookah and smoke grape & berry flavoured shisha post-meal, it’s the perfect blend of elegance, authenticity and just plain fun.
Turn it up a notch? Jad Mahal vibrated with energy as live music transitioned over to house music and backed up by traditional Moroccan and belly dancers. Another must do.
Last tip! Brush up on your French and you’ll do just fine. I will be back…a fortune teller even told me so.
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