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NYE in Marrakesh

NYE in Marrakesh

By mkr85
Destinations: 
Africa + Middle East,
Marrakesh,
Morocco

No Description Available.

ITEMS

Eating

Alizia, Morocco

Rue Ahmed Chouhada Chawki, Off Avenue Echouhada
Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Tel: 212 24 43 83 60

The bougainvillea-shaded front garden of this pretty little Hivernage neighborhood restaurant is one of the most pleasant places in town for dinner. The food is mostly Italian (excellent pizzas and pastas), but the main culinary reason to come here is the fish, from a niçoise-like salad with tiny fillets of red mullet (an appetizer that's big enough for a light main course) to a sole en papillote (wrapped in foil), to a sole and salmon roulade with spinach. In winter, the dining room has the feel of a country restaurant in France, with a crackling fire; in summer, it's an air-conditioned alternative to the garden. One of the reasons Alizia is so pleasant is its charming Moroccan proprietor, Madame Rachida, who spent five years living in London, speaks excellent English, and greets everyone (Hivernage denizens, members of the local diplomatic community, and tourists referred by their riads) as if they were old friends. Prices are reasonable; figure $70–$80 for two with wine.

Open daily noon to 3 pm and 7 to 11 pm.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick

Hotel

Riad Magi, Morocco

79 Derb Moulay Abdelkader, Derb Dabachi
Marrakesh 40008, Morocco
Tel: 212 24 42 66 88, Tel: 44 208 834 4747 (U.K.)
Website: www.riad-magi.com

If you're watching your dirhams, this unpretentious and friendly six-bedroom riad, in a quiet neighborhood a five-minute walk from the Place Jemaa El Fna, is a fine choice. British owner Maggie Perry opened her establishment in 2001 and has since become something of a local celebrity through her involvement in the community. Her connections to all the right Marrakesh circles means she can open the doors (to the dazzling and famously difficult to reserve Dar Yacout restaurant, for example) that let her clients experience the city as an insider. Heading her capable Moroccan team is Abderrazak, who has worked here since the riad opened in 2001 and speaks excellent English. The rooms are standard-issue tadlakt,in colors ranging from Yves Klein–blue to mint green; all have en suite bathrooms with big soaking tubs. As with most riads, lunches and dinners must be booked ahead and are an additional charge, although a bountiful breakfast served on the pretty terrace is included in the low rate. Recently, Magi has become known for its weekend and weeklong cooking courses that teach the basics of Moroccan cuisine. Like everything else here, the course is delightfully low-key and a great deal of fun. Note that credit cards are not accepted.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick

Hotel

Riad Hayati, Morocco

27 Derb Bouderba, Riad Zitoun Jedid
Marrakesh 44000, Morocco
Tel: 44 777 043 1194 (U.K.)
Email: info@riadhayati.com
Website: www.riadhayati.com

Opened in 2005, this beautifully restored 18th-century residence, near the Bahia Palace, was a labor of love for its Anglo-American owner, Ron Ciccone. Ciccone has spent decades traveling in the Middle East while working as a foreign correspondent for Turner Broadcasting (CNN) and filled Hayati with treasures he picked up along the way. A priceless Damascene marble fountain is the centerpiece of the lushly planted courtyard, and antique kilims, paintings, and tapestries from Syria, Persia, and Ottoman Turkey adorn the riad's three guest rooms. The rooms all also have exotic tadlakt bathrooms with plunge pool–size tubs, and two have fireplaces. But the most luxurious accommodation here is the Palm Suite annex—a mini-palazzo carved out of two adjacent houses, with a private courtyard, roof terrace, and plunge pool. The brother-and-sister team of Abdel and Mina Hak ensures that everything runs flawlessly and Mina also happens to be one of the best cooks in Marrakesh (she was previously the chef for Marrakesh interior decorator Jacqueline Foissac). Aperitifs as well as Mina's breakfast (omelets, home-baked croissants, soft Berber crepes with honey) are included in the room rate. Many guests eschew the Marrakesh restaurant scene for her superb salads, tajines, and French desserts ($30 per person) at dinnertime too. Since the property is small and has many repeat guests (often London professionals and paparazzi-evading celebrities), it's best to book two months in advance.

$300-$399
ALT HERE

Hotel

AnaYela, Morocco

Medina
Marrakesh, Morocco
Tel: 212 524 386969
Website: anayela.com

Shop

Rue de la Liberté Shops, Morocco

Guéliz
Marrakesh 40000, Morocco

Rue de la Liberté, which bisects Avenue Mohammed V in Guéliz, is home to a high concentration of the new town's chicest shops. Attika Chaussures sells well-made women's (and some men's) shoes, most of which are knocked off from the latest models from top designers. Priced at about $75, the TODs-like driving shoes and loafers in a vast range of colors are a huge hit. The place is usually packed with aggressive European buyers so don't be shy (34 Rue de la Liberté; 212-24-43-64-09). Nearby, look for hand-embroidered linens and a huge range of striped woven cloth in brilliant hues and organdy in pastels that can be fashioned into custom-made curtains, tablecloths, or place settings at Scènes de Lin (70 Rue de la Liberté; 212-24-43-61-08; www.ilove-marrakesh.com/scenesdelin). Other addresses to note include: quality leather goods—wallets, bags, briefcases, luggage, jackets; suede shirts and skirts—at Place Vendome (141 Ave. Mohammed V; 212-24-43-52-63); Moroccan pottery, perfume bottles, tea glasses, prints, paintings, lanterns, and much more at L'Orientaliste (15 Rue de la Liberté; 212-24-43-40-74); and three levels of African and Indian furnishings, fabrics, carpets, and artifacts at Darkoum (5 Rue de la Liberté; 212-24-24-67-39). For an afternoon pick-me-up, look to Jeff de Bruges for the best chocolates in town (17 Rue de la Liberté; www.jeff-de-bruges.com), pastries at Al Jawda (11 Rue de la Liberté; 212-24-43-38-97; al-jawda.com), or Kechmara for lunch.

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Souks, Morocco

Medina
Marrakesh, Morocco

In the alleys north of Jemaa El Fna, you'll find Marrakesh's souks. The sheer number of shops is overwhelming, although many offer the same non-essential wares, particularly babouches (canary-yellow slippers, from about $3), djellabas (embroidered gowns, from $11), and etched brass platters the size of manhole covers (from $30). Every section of the souk has a specialty, from spices and ironwork to the ingredients for casting magic spells. Areas worth seeking out include the Criée Berbère, a knot of dimly lit, roofed passageways (once a slave market) that's the center of the carpet trade; and the Kissaria, a ladder of arrow-straight, shoulder-width alleys lined with stalls specializing in cotton cloth, clothing, kaftans, and blankets. The most photogenic is the Souk des Teinturiers, or dyers' souk, which dazzles with drying sheafs of colored wool. The shops nearby major in pottery, lanterns, and metalwork.

The staff at your hotel will most likely try to push a guide on you, but you don't really need one. Hassle from overeager salesmen has been stifled by government crackdowns, and while the alleys are winding, the Medina isn't that big, making it almost impossible to get really lost. (If you do lose your way, ask a local to help set you back on the right track.) And as for guides securing cheaper prices, forget it—any savings made are more than gobbled up by their own commissions and kickbacks. Do remember that bargaining is a way of life here. To avoid getting ripped off, first get a good idea of what's a fair price for everything from pottery to carpets at Ensemble Artisanal, a state-sponsored store with fixed prices at the edge of the Medina on Avenue Mohammed V (212-24-38-67-58). When you find something you like, start at one-third the offered price and walk away when you've hit your limit.

Souks are generally open daily 9 am to 7 pm, except for Friday mornings.

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La Porte d'Orient, Morocco

9 Boulevard El Mansour Eddahbi, Guéliz
Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Tel: 212 24 43 89 67
Website: www.ilove-marrakesh.com/portedorient/index_en.html

At first sight, this antiques shop in Guéliz, run for generations by the Bousfiha family, doesn't seem particularly impressive. But walk past the usual pots, Berber jewelry, and lanterns to a small door at the back of the shop. Through it is an Ali Baba cave of treasures: a cavernous warehouse of carpets, marble fountains, antique kasbah doors and windows, even whole palatial coffered ceilings. It's one of the city's most important antiques shops—even Tom Cruise was wowed at the collection—and arguably one of the best museums in Marrakesh.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 7:30 pm.

Shop

Herboristerie El Khaïr, Morocco

24 Rue Al Gundafi, Riad Zitoun Kedim, Medina
Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Tel: 212 24 42 73 07
Website: www.herboristerie-marrakech.com

This traditional hole-in-the-wall herbalist shop stocks a wide range of spices, medicinal plants, and exotic lotions, potions, and infusions. The most popular product, however, is vitamin E–rich argan oil. Available only in Morocco, it comes in a cosmetic version that does wonders for the skin, and an edible version that can be used in cooking and is said to lower cholesterol. The proprietor speaks English and will custom-mix aromatherapy oils and organic (no alcohol) perfumes. You'll find it on a quiet passageway between Riad Zitoun Kedim and Riad Zitoun J'did.

Open daily 10 am to 1 pm and 3 to 7:30 pm.

Shop

Beldi, Morocco

9–11 Rue Mouassinee, Medina
Marrakesh 44000, Morocco
Tel: 212 24 44 10 76

Wealthy Marrakesh socialites hoping to turn heads at the next soiree pay a visit to Beldi. A tiny kiosk of a boutique at the entrance to the souks, it is the display space for the work of the Baroudi brothers, Toufik and Abdelhafid. Together they tailor seasonal men's and women's collections of Moroccan clothing in the most beautiful colors and fabrics. Everything is fashioned with flair and an eye to Western tastes. Handmade velvet coats lined with silk start from around 1,700dh ($184), men's shirts in fine linen start from about 500dh ($54). The brothers own a second shop in the Medina dedicated to their own home-decor products.

Open Saturdays through Thursdays 10 am to 5 pm.

Eating

Bô & Zin, Morocco

Douar Lahna
Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Tel: 212 24 38 80 12
Email: contact@bo-zin.com
Website: www.bo-zin.com

This glamorous roadhouse two miles south of the city is the favorite watering hole of the French and Moroccan A-list. Owner Cyril Durand carefully created and choreographed Bô & Zin to live up to its name (a phonetic spelling of the French and Arabic words for "beautiful"), installing camera-ready staff, minimalist dining areas divided by billowy curtains, and dramatic see-through fireplaces. For the full effect, ask for a table in the back garden, which is set with oversize mattresses, open fires, torches, and private tents. The menu mixes Moroccan and Asian dishes, but aside from the sushi appetizer (the usual tuna, salmon, caviar, etc.), you're best off sticking with the former, especially the succulent roast lamb and the classic poulet au citron (chicken with preserved lemons) tajine. A resident DJ keeps the music appropriately lounge-y early in the evening but cranks things up around 11, when the big bar area turns into an impromptu disco. Dinner for two will run you about $100 with wine.

Open daily 8 pm to 2 am.

See + Do

Les Bains de Marrakesh, Morocco

2 Derb Sedra, Bab Agnaou/Kasbah
Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Tel: 212 24 38 14 28
Website: www.lesbainsdemarrakech.com

Les Bains de Marrakesh is an elegant spa center, occupying one half of an old townhouse in the southern Kasbah quarter of the Medina. A full range of treatments, from water massage to shiatsu, plus gommage (loofah scrub) and steam cleaning in a traditional hammam, are on offer. Figure on spending about $70 for a 45-minute gommage plus an hourlong massage. Unlike some other local hammams—which we don't recommend visiting unless in the company of a Moroccan who knows the place—Les Bains de Marrakesh is very Westernized and the staff guides the uninitiated through the process (steam, cold-water rinse, perhaps more steam, another rinse before the gommage; then a massage; and lots of time to cool down with a glass of mint tea). Reservations—as far in advance as possible—are a must.

Open daily 9 am to 8 pm. By appointment only.

See + Do

Jemaa El Fna, Morocco

Medina
Marrakesh 40000, Morocco

Jemaa El Fna, translated as the Square of the Dead, is the main open space in Marrakesh, and is as old as the city itself. Once the scene of public executions (back in the old days, no need to worry), it is now the city's cultural epicenter, thronged day and night with a carnival of local life, including snake charmers (a few dirhams for a photograph with a snake draped over your shoulders; a few more to have it removed); dentists (teeth pulled on the spot); scribes (letters written to order); herbalists (cures for everything and nothing); and beggars (to whom Moroccans give generously). In the evenings, the square becomes a venue for alfresco eating and entertainment of a bizarre nature with troupes of costumed acrobats, storytellers, magicians, transvestite dancers, and semimystical gnawa musicians attended by small knots of wild-eyed devotees giddy on the repetitive rhythms. Tourists are welcome to watch, but nothing here is staged for their benefit; this place is genuine.

Several cafés and restaurants have upper terraces with ringside seating from which to observe the mayhem of Jemaa El Fna. One of the best of the lot is Café Glacier, which is above the Hotel CTM, with its sweeping, 270-degree view from the roof; some people prefer the Café de France. Come at dusk for purple skies clouded by drifts and curls of smoke as food stalls below fire up the griddles and the smell of grilling meat overlaps with the insistent clattering of hand drums.

See + Do

El Badi Palace, Morocco

Place des Ferblantiers, Mellah
Marrakesh 40000, Morocco

After famously routing the Portuguese from the southern Moroccan coast in 1578, the great Saadian sultan Ahmed El-Mansour set about erecting this 360-room palace in Marrakesh to celebrate his victories. Taking a quarter of a century to build, El Badi—with its pavilions, sunken gardens, multiple reflecting pools, and fountains—stood for less than a century before the Alaouites (the current rulers of Morocco) took over, stripped the place bare, and moved its riches to their new capital in Meknès. Today, Badi is a spectacular ruin of crumbling pisé (mud brick) walls, faded mosaic floors, and empty ponds and pools that visitors are free to explore on their own. Besides being a tourist attraction, the premises are used for special events during the city's National Popular Arts Festival (usually held in June and July).

Open daily 8:30 to 11:45 am and 2:30 to 5:30 pm.

See + Do

Bahia Palace, Morocco

Riad Zitoun El Jedid, Medina
Marrakesh 40000, Morocco

This 19th-century palace is so elaborate in its decoration it verges on kitsch. Built over seven years for Ba Ahmed, the son of the grand vizier Si Moussa, it includes row after row of apartments—that once housed Ahmed's harem—a trapezoidal garden, a huge tiled courtyard, and many hidden treasures, both in the form of antique objets d'art and the palace's convergence of Andalusian and Moorish architecture.

Open Mondays to Thursdays 8:45 to 11:45 am and 2:45 to 5:45 pm, Fridays 3 to 5:45 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 8:45 to 11:30 am.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.