Hotels in Marrakech, Morocco
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Marrakech offers a blend of traditions with a modern twist
Marrakech, one of Morocco’s largest cities and also one of the most characterful, is in a prime location to explore much of Morocco’s finest landscape. It is a city of a contrasting nature with areas of ancient market squares and tiny streets pitched against a modern metropolis full of western brands and luxury accommodation. Visitors become absorbed in the traditions and atmosphere of the old town, presenting endless shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Indeed the local style and customs create the city’s popularity and are sure to shape any trip to this fascinating cultural jungle.
Navigating the Medina
The first factor to consider on a visit to Marrakech is the distinct variance between the two major districts. The historical heart of the city, known as the Medina, is a maze of thin and winding streets interspersed with an array of souks, whilst Gueliz, the modern side of the city, houses a host of western shops, restaurants and all inclusive resorts. The focal point of the Medina is the vast open square of Djemaa El-Fna, which is home to countless stalls and street performers as well as an endless stream of tourists. That said, it is most certainly a must-visit destination and a crucial landmark for finding your bearings in the old city. From Djemma El-Fna, visitors delve further into the network of tiny streets to find small boutiques and local eateries plus a multitude of stunning architecture. Many of the traditional style hotels in Marrakech can be found amongst the Medina, with guests being able to catch a slight glimpse of the historical Moroccan way of life. One of the most iconic buildings in this district of the city is the impressive twelfth-century Koutoubia Mosque, a popular sight for visitors that is lit up each night to increase its magical appearance.
Twentieth century Marrakech
Gueliz, in stark contrast, is the modern area of the city known for its Western style buildings, international brands and assortment of large Marrakech hotels. Although much younger than the ancient Medina, Gueliz still maintains a cultural atmosphere with several architectural highlights, whilst at the same time less frantic and more spacious. Consequently many foreign visitors to Marrakech enjoy the increased comfort provided in many of the all inclusive accommodation, as well as the international restaurants and shops. Another well-known area of Gueliz is the Jardin Majorella; the project of a French artist who created a mystical garden of rare plants, thin streams and various artworks which provide a perfect escape from the hectic urbanisation. This newer section is also popular with visitors looking for hotels near Marrakech airport as the transport hub is located just to the south-east.
A city shaped by its traditions
One of the biggest draws Morocco possesses is its blend of Arabic, African and European culture that creates a melting pot of diversity seen across dozens of dimensions. In terms of shopping opportunities, Marrakech is home to a multitude of markets, known locally as souks, selling everything imaginable; from traditional Moroccan clothing, carpets and jewellery to Western-influenced clothes and technologies. The Kasbah area of the Medina is a favoured spot for shopping with an assortment of small bazaars alongside two well-favoured tourist attractions: the Royal Palace and the Saadian Tombs. This calmer area of the Medina is also home to many of the riad style hotels Marrakech is famous for, an opportunity for a further cultural experience. Indeed many travellers looking for late deals in the city come through the Medina for unique and independent accommodation. Local cuisine is also a highlight for many visitors enjoying sampling couscous and tagine dishes flavoured by the variety of spices Morocco is known for. An additional element of Arabic culture is the hammam, a steam room where locals gather to cleanse, massage and refresh.Travellers have long been eager to embrace this tradition and there are several hammams across the city including the tourist-friendly Les Bains de Marrakech.
Venture into the Moroccan wilderness
One other primary reason for visiting Marrakech is its proximity to several of Morocco’s must-visit areas. Visitors therefore use the city as a base to explore outwards on one of the many short trips available with either a tour group or independently. Those staying in a hotel in Marrakech can easily access the Atlas Mountains to the south of the city in just a couple of hours to experience a series of tiny villages tucked high into the hills. There are also an array of trails and hiking opportunities into the nature, offering a complete contrast to the frenetic city life. Setti Fatma and Amizmiz are two of the villages commonly frequented by travellers looking to understand the rural Moroccan environment and traditional Berber life. Across the Atlas Range, a further five hours drive south, lies the town of Zagora; a gateway to the Sahara Desert. Many overnight tour groups and solo travellers head through the town as it is the last stop before beginning treks into the wilderness. These tours leaving from Marrakech usually offer a hotel pick-up, plus often frequent the picturesque village of Aït Ben Haddou. This UNESCO protected ancient city reached further acclaim after featuring in a range of blockbuster films such as Gladiator and The Mummy.
Price rangefrom NZ$10to NZ$7,173
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