From bustling cities to boundless scenery
Like the country’s seething souks and dizzying medinas, Morocco is filled with surprises. There are ancient cities crammed with a heady mix of sights and spices. But venture further afield and you’ll find epic deserts, rugged coast and some of the world’s best luxury hotels. Morocco is a place where the closer you look, the more you discover.
Marrakech: a fashionista’s paradise
For many visitors, Marrakech is where the Morocco experience begins. It’s home to iconic landmarks such as the Djemaa el-Fna and magical Ali ben Youssef Medersa – always high on the ‘must see’ list. But don’t miss one of the city’s newest attractions. The Musee Yves Saint Laurent opened in October 2017 and is attracting rave reviews. Get style inspiration from 200 haute couture outfits from the YSL archive in Paris, browse fashion books in the library or catch a concert or film.
Continue your YSL fix at the Jardin Majorelle, located just next door. Vibrant colours and exotic plants make it the ultimate Instagram-friendly destination. If you want to skip the queues, buy a joint ticket for both attractions in the museum.
As you’re wandering the alleyways, you can’t help but get swept away by Marrakech food culture. So why not arrange a cookery class to really get to grips with the tastes and techniques? Many of Morocco’s luxury hotels offer their own courses – and our pick has to be La Sultana Marrakech. This small hotel is located in the heart of the kasbah, so you can dip into Marrakech, then return and recharge.
Ouarzazate: let the adventure begin
As you drive west from Marrakech the landscape changes. The pace of life slows. And the skies become that bit larger. Welcome to Ouarzazate – the gateway to the Sahara. Renowned as one of Morocco’s most laid-back towns, it provides the perfect contrast to bustling Marrakech.
There is plenty to see and do in the town itself – from the idyllic Oasis Flint to the majestic Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, not to mention numerous film locations. But it’s perhaps best known as a launch pad for desert tours. Arrange a private guide and explore the wilderness by camel, camp out under the stars and experience true Berber hospitality.
To really make the most of this incredible location, savour a few days at the Dar Ahlam boutique hotel. This traditional Kasbah beautifully blends past and present, offering fine dining, spa treatments and utter luxury, just moments from the Saharan sands.
Fez: immerse yourself in history
Ancient, authentic and bursting with life, Fez is Morocco’s oldest imperial city. If Marrakech seems a little aloof, Fez takes you by the hand and leads you on an unforgettable adventure.
You could happily spend a day in the sprawling, World Heritage-listed medina, bartering and eating delicious local cuisine. But make time for a few of the lesser-known gems. Medersa Bou Inania is the finest of Fez’s theological colleges and an outstanding example of Islamic architecture. Or, as an antidote to the cramped alleyways, the Jardin Jnan Sbil gives you plenty of room to rest tired feet and plan your next move.
With so much hustle and bustle, it pays to choose a hotel that’s a little removed from the city. Hotel Sahrai more than fits the bill. Elevated above it all, this luxury hotel has a stunning pool, a timeless design and a Givenchy spa.
Oualidia: break for the coast
Standing on the Atlantic coast, Oualidia is a breath of fresh air – literally and metaphorically. This easy-going place attracts city slickers looking to unwind, along with surfers. It’s also a favourite with migrating flamingos who, in spring and autumn, stop off at the town’s sheltered lagoon.
You could do as they do and dip a toe in the water or try something a little different. With its sheltered water and reliable waves, it’s a great spot to learn to surf. If you prefer to stay on dry land, hire a horse and trot through the breaking waves as the sun dips into the sea.
Whatever you choose to do, La Sultana Oualida hotel will be ready to welcome you. Built in the style of a Moorish fort, this luxury hotel is all about relaxation and recharging, sunbathing and sundowners. What better way to end your Moroccan odyssey?