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The Insider’s Guide to Marrakech

6 MAR 2024

Philomena Schurer Merckoll is a well-known tastemaker and owner-founder or Riad Mena — our favourite hotel in Marrakech, where Comoclubbers can now earn Comocredits with every stay.

 

In this insider's guide to contemporary Marrakech, Philomena shares her top 10 addresses, from artisan studios to restaurants, cafes and shops.

Wander through Marrakech and fall in love with intricate architectural details, beautiful courtyards, and other artisanal treasures.

The first stop for any first timer in Marrakech is the Jemaa El Fna, the main square of the Medina and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My favourite time of day is at sunset, when the energy comes alive and locals and tourists wander through, stopping at food stalls that pop up every evening to the sounds of the drummers' circles nearby.

 

The Jemaa El Fna is also the gateway to the Souk, the market of Marrakech. I like to start in the Souk Semmarine, its main artery.

 

Wander past the souk's many stalls and find yourself at Au Fil d’Or, the family run business since Yves Saint Laurent’s days (who also used to shop and make things here!). It’s the best spot for all things classic Moroccan, from the softest suede slippers to classic cotton shirting and cashmere capes.

 

A little further down is the Place des Epices, the Spice Market. It’s filled with a tantalising display of spices alongside a selection of rattan goods where you can buy bags, beautifully simple rattan bowls, placemats and the distinctive bottle covers that you will find at Riad Mena.

 

Because shopping can be hungry work, Nomad is a modern Moroccan restaurant right next door. It is a great spot for lunch on the roof terrace with a fantastic view over the Souk all the way to the Atlas Mountains.

 

After lunch head over to Lahandira to shop a lovely selection of new and vintage Moroccan rugs and textiles belonging to one of the oldest rug trading families in Marrakech.

 

Opposite the Terrace des Epices is Hicham — a little shop owned by a Moroccan and Japanese couple — my favourite spot for beautifully carved wooden pieces from spoons to spice bowls, and wonderful blankets and slippers with a Japanese-meets-Morocco twist.

A city of history, culture and unrivalled charm.

Interior designer and stylist Corinne Bensimon has two boutiques in the Souk that you can visit, both selling beautifully embroidered tableware and bed linens and other wonderful homewares.

 

Le Jardin Secret is the old Bassin of Marrakech and has been repurposed into a huge garden in the middle of the Souk. It's the perfect place for a coffee pit stop, a peaceful respite from the Medina.

 

The new neighbourhood of Gueliz is the contemporary juxtaposition to the old town Medina and where most Marrakeshis spend their time.

  Galerie 127 was founded by photographer Nathalie Locatelli many years ago and still remains the best gallery for photography in Marrakech, a testament to her exceptional eye. It's housed in a beautiful loft-like apartment that makes you want to move straight in.

 

Around the corner is +61 — an Australian-owned favourite for lunch or dinner. It is a fresh and delicious alternative when you’ve had one tajine too many.

 

Down the road is the YSL Museum — an iconic building in Marrakech designed by Studio KO. It houses changing exhibitions of Yves Saint Laurent’s collections, celebrating one of Marrakech’s most famous residents.

 

Next door is the Majorelle Gardens which was bought by Yves Saint Laurent in the Sixties, which he restored, adding a café, shop and library.

 

In keeping with the Yves Saint Laurent theme, the restaurant Dar Yacout is one of Marrakech’s oldest, but still a goodie. Designed by famed designer Bill Willis back in the 1970s, it harks back to a maximalist Moroccan bygone era. Start the evening with an aperitivo on the roof before a traditional Moroccan (and traditionally plentiful) meal to the sounds of the gnawa musicians below.

 

Join Riad Mena founder Philomena Schurer Merckoll for DESIGN MARRAKECH from 15 to 19 September 2024, to experience contemporary Marrakech through her design-focused lens. Philomena will lead you through five days of the best that Marrakech has to offer, both old and new. This tour will include a stay at Riad Mena, where you can earn Comocredits on every dollar spent.

 

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