The Hedonist: Marrakech

What to see and where to be seen

Call me greedy, but I generally like to split my trips to Marrakech between the medina – great for shopping in the souks, getting completely lost and absorbing the exotic milieu of the city – and the Palmeraie, a palm-filled if somewhat barren area that has some of the most divine accommodation in the city.

For my most recent long weekend, I checked first into Anayela (00 212 524 386 969;, a meticulously designed medina riad that opened two years ago. Anayela takes its name from a billet-doux discovered in the house during renovation, and the romantic theme holds sway throughout; a sense of fairy-tale fantasy permeates a tranquil inner courtyard (with elegant pillars and turquoise plunge pool), the large, sumptuous rooms and the "magic carpet" area perched atop the roof terrace. Eating breakfast or dinner here as you gaze over the medina rooftops is unforgettable.

Tempting as it is, you can't eat in your riad every night – there are just too many other places to try. On the second evening, I strolled to Le Tanjia (00 212 524 383 836; ) in the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter at the other end of the medina. The route from Anayela was long, labyrinthine and thoroughly stimulating; the narrow, dusty streets were ablaze with Lebanese pop music, mysterious veiled women, donkeys and carts and fragrant food stalls. Tourists dodged mopeds and consulted unfathomable maps.

The contrast upon entering Le Tanjia's serene, dimly lit embrace was profound and pleasing. The venue, opened in 2007, provides a welcome alternative to the city's extravagant "feast" restaurants (for example, Le Tobsil or Dar Yacout), where you are force-fed delicious Moroccan food until you keel over – and are then presented, non-ironically, with an immense plate of desserts.

At Tanjia the tajines and salads, meat skewers and seafood dishes are just as tasty ... and à la carte. The service is attentive, the wine list respectable and the interior (traditional, up-market décor, flickering candles and intimate dining booths) makes it an ideal spot for a cosy tête-à-tête.

Speaking of cosy, just around the corner, tucked away in a corner of the Place des Ferblantiers, is Kozybar (00 212 524 380 324). One of the first non-hotel bars to have emerged in the medina, this elegantly refurbished riad is a favourite among expats and locals. You can sit at the small, well-stocked bar downstairs, grab a booth on the second floor, or (and this is recommended on a warm night) grab a tasty cocktail and enjoy the views from the breezy roof terrace.

I was delighted to learn that a new lounge has opened at one of my favourite medina restaurants, Le Foundouk (00 212 524 378 190; ). The venue's charming owner-designers Thierry and Frédéric have created an extra room on the ground floor that has a refined but approachable members' club feel. The bar menu boasts splendid cocktails and an enviable range of digestifs; best of all are the fabulous desserts.

Saturday: time to sample the bright lights of Gueliz/ Hivernage in the New City. First stop? Dinner at L'Avenue (00 212 524 458 901), a new spot that mixes trendy, upmarket décor with superb French-Moroccan cuisine. After dinner, a short taxi ride brought me to another new place; the Lotus Club (00 212 524 421 736), a glass-walled cube of hipdom that offers excellent cocktails and has a DJ spinning club music. Definitely a place to see and be seen.

You can more or less stumble from there into the arms of grand old dame Le Comptoir Darna (00 212 524 437 702;, which still pulls in the crowds 10 years after opening, with its plush interior (check out the sweeping staircase), exotic belly dancers and buzzing bar scene. Want something bigger and louder? No problem: right around the corner, within the Es Saadi hotel, is Theatro (00 212 524 448 811; ), a refurbished theatre where you can continue mingling with the city's beautiful people.

After all that late-night hedonism it was time to head to the Palmaraie for a decent drying out; to be precise, I made for the stately Les Deux Tours (00 212 524 329 525; ). Designed by the architect Charles Boccara, one of the most influential proponents of Moroccan chic, Les Deux Tours is one of the original Marrakech "addresses".

It has faltered slightly in recent years, but is currently experiencing a revival thanks to a fantastic new manager, some subtle refurbishment, and a shiny new restaurant – Salammbô – headed by the Michelin-starred chef David Frémondière. Its grounds, a mix of orange trees and bougainvillea, frogs croaking in ponds and terraces and pools, are unbelievably relaxing. The rooms are a similarly tasteful mix of mod-cons – TV, mini-bar, tea/coffee area – and rustic touches like the slightly worn doors and domed tadelakt bathrooms.

Before arriving there I'd had plans to drive into town the next day for a hammam (steam bath), perhaps at the new Sublima Spa in Gueliz (00 212 524 431 443; ). But once I was ensconced in the frondescent embrace of Les Deuz Tours and its fantastic spa, it was difficult to do anything but enjoy the atmosphere and wait for someone to drag me away to the airport.

A Hedonist's Guide to... (Hg2) is a series of luxury city guides for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see

View our great offers for Morocco

Suggested Topics
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Holiday Homes - £100,000 OTE

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + £100,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: Birmingham, Derby, L...

    Investigo: Finance Manager - Global Leisure Business

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...

    Investigo: Senior Finance Analyst - Global Leisure Business

    £45000 - £52000 per annum + bonus+bens : Investigo: My client, a global leader...

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game