Wednesday, 2 February 2011

City style: Marrakesh

Shopping and sensory overload in Morocco’s capital of cool. Choices by Laura Lovett for The Times


This stylish, candlelit restaurant is hard to find, so doormen located around the area light the way with lanterns and candelabra. Dine on classic Moroccan fare or, if you tire of the traditional tagine, they even serve foie gras and steak with béarnaise sauce.
55 Souk Hal Fassi, Kat Bennahïd (00212 524 378190

Wit two beautifully domed rooms with streaming taps and perspiring walls, this typical Moroccan hammam is a hidden treat. First you get covered in a black-soap, then scrubbed with an abrasive mitt, followed by detoxifying mud, finally lathered up and washed off. You’re guaranteed to leave glowing and relaxed. Riad Laksiba get special rates for their guests.
Rue Bab Aganou, next to Jemaa el Fna (Main Square)

Too hot even to contemplate visiting during the day, the main market turns into an entrancing square of magical proportions when the stars come out. Under a haze of smoke and kerosene lamps, merchants, fortune-tellers and snake charmers compete for attention in an experience not to be missed.
Place Djemaa El Fna.

A rich den of antiquity, Emrani Art specialises in traditional homewares and accessories that you’ll want to grab by the armful. Richly textured wall hangings, bejewelled bags and chunky jewellery all vie for your dirhams, so barter with confidence or you will be outwitted at the first opportunity.
19 Derb N’Khal Rahba Lakdima (00212 524 44 28 54).

The Medersa was an Islamic school from the early 14th century until the Sixties. Now a museum, it houses examples of the golden age of Moroccan art and architecture. From the grand courtyard to the intricately carved cedar-wood panels and mosaics, it makes for a wonderful history lesson, and had a more recent brush with fame in the Kate Winslet movie Hideous Kinky.

by Laura Lovett

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