#PretaPostcards: Where to Stay Sane in Marrakech
If you're in town for the film festival or simply seeking '60s-style inspiration, here are a few oases in the bustling city.
Marrakech has been an international style stopover since Yves Saint Laurent and Talitha Getty put it on the fashion map with a giant jewel-toned X. Just ask Tory Burch — inspired by a recent trip, this season she transformed a Paris garden into a Moroccan hideaway and her fall collection was a full-blown catwalk of caftan love.
While its sleepy '60s charm has given way to a bustling city, and everything from the saturated sunset colors to the sounds and smells in the central souk and spice market can be an assault on the senses, there are still oases of calm in the middle of the medinas. While hanging out with Bill Murray, Sofia Coppola and her “papa” (better known as Mr. Francis Ford), Olga Kurlyenko and Willem Dafoe this week for the Marrakech International Film Fest, we found a few stylish places to keep you sane.
Marrakech’s grande dame hotel is La Mamounia, a favorite of Christian Louboutin and Marion Cotillard — and not just because it has a Dior outpost in its lobby for any red-carpet emergencies. The 210-room palace is situated in the historical center of the city, but hidden away from the hustle and bustle amongst its own 8-acre garden. It underwent a glam revamp five years ago courtesy of French interior designer Jacques Garcia of Hotel Costes fame. If you can afford to stay here, do. (Classic rooms run €550/night, suites up to €7,000). If that doesn’t fit your budget, drop by the classic Churchill bar for a signature lavender fizz.
The intersection of new and old (well, ancient) meets at the the Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts (MMP+). Inaugurated two years ago, the museum is housed amongst the ruins of the historic El Badi Palace and its crumbling walls give way to contemporary photography in a sleek new space. If that juxtaposition doesn’t strike you, Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama’s Shooting Light, curated by Simon Baker of the Tate Modern in London, certainly will. Shooting Light runs until Jan. 10, 2016.
A short stroll through the souks will land you at Nomad, a contemporary chevron-striped café. Belgian-French chef Phillippe Penven runs the kitchen and the restaurant recently hosted a pop-up from wandering chefs The Stovetrotters. If you want to skip another dinner surrounded by belly dancers (they’re really Egyptian anyway), need to find a delicious vegetarian meal, or are missing your favorite juice bar, Nomad’s modern menu and chic vibe are perfect. Plus manager Joed totally doesn’t think it’s weird if you come back three nights in a row for the saffron date cake topped with salted caramel. Not that anyone would do that.
1, Derb Aarjan, Marrakech Medina. +212 5 24 38 16 09
Hidden in the maze of the medina are the lush gardens of the aptly-named Le Jardin. Filled with palms and singing birds by day, and candlelit by night, the courtyard restaurant is situated in the center of a 17th-century mansion revamped in mid-century modern. The sleek black lacquer and green décor gives way to classic black-and-whites at night; the restaurant projects period films on the old building walls. Plus manager Sayed doesn’t think it’s weird if you come back three days in a row for the corrugette soup with a poached egg and crispy tortilla strips. Not that anyone would do that.
75, Rahba Lakdima, Marrakech Medina. +212 5 24 39 17 70
Despite being revamped two decades ago, this is Yves and Talitha's Marrkaech. Le Maison Arabe was where the international style set, including Jackie Kennedy, hung out in the 1960s. The red lounge bar Le Maison Arabe has retained its old school jazz club feeling. Caftan shopping aside, this is what you came here for.
1, Derb Assehbe, Bab Doukala, Marrakech Medina +212 5 24 38 70 10