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Home to intricate mosaics, magnificent palaces, maze-like souks and streets densely packed with speeding scooters, Marrakesh – the former imperial city in western Morocco – is a feast for the senses. The only downside of visiting a place so rich in history, architecture and (if you have a penchant for the bohemian) style is deciding what to prioritise on your arrival.

To help you decipher where to start, we present a tightly edited list of eight musts when it comes to seeing, sleeping, eating and shopping in Marrakesh.
The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech showcases the fashion icon’s work alongside photographs and sketches

1. Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech

A stone’s throw from the enchanting Jardin Majorelle, one of the most visited spots in the city, is the newly launched Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech. Entirely devoted to the work of fashion legend Yves Saint Laurent, the space combines modernist African architecture with Yves-centric touches and impressively features not just a museum, but an exhibition space, research library, auditorium, bookstore and café.

Rue Yves St Laurent

Jemaa El Fna makes for an enchanting sight. Image by Jano Silva / Flickr

2. Jemaa El Fna 

It’s an obvious visit but also an essential one – the city’s iconic large public square Jemaa El Fna is pure magic come dusk. Peppered with storytellers, snake charmers, swaying lanterns and musicians, and surrounded by horse-drawn-carriages, it’s the perfect spot for turning off your phone and watching the action unfold. It’s also great for a low-budget feast: swap your bread for utensils and feast at local food stalls serving spicy merguez sausages and harira soup. For the more adventurous, sample sheep’s heads and stewed snails.

Jemaa El Fna Square, Derb Chtouka
Nomad hosts world-renowned guest chefs who create new twists on local fare

3. Nomad 

A little tricky to find but well worth it. Overlooking the medina, the multi-level restaurant offers a two-tier terrace with stunning views and sharp design details. Even more impressively, the menu changes with a rotating roster of notable guest chefs, meaning next time you’re back – which you inevitably will be – you can sample a new twist on modern Moroccan cuisine made with local, seasonal ingredients.

1 Derb Aarjan, Rahba Lakdima
Rug store Lahandira is a perennial favourite

4. Lahandira 

 While you’re sure to stumble across plenty of shops selling rugs, the best might just be Lahandira. With an extensive and breathtaking collection in every colour, print and size, there’s a good chance you’ll leave with more rugs than you have floor space. As a bonus, it’s also a great place to snap a photo, thanks to its picture-perfect backdrop of mountains of bright, textured fabrics.

44 Biadine, Rue Rahba Lekdima

For fine dining there are few places that equal La Grande Table Marocaine

5. La Grande Table Marocaine 

With its setting in one of the world’s most luxurious hotels – staff navigate through tunnels beneath the property, so service is peerlessly seamless – a visit to restaurant La Grande Table Marocaine at Royal Mansour Marrakech will be a night to remember. Led by three-star Michelin chef Yannick Alléno, the team serves up traditional fare with an innovative, contemporary twist in what is arguably the elevated dining experience of Morocco.

Abbas El Sebti 40 000, Rue Abou Majzara, Marrakesh

Seclusion awaits inside the five-suite L'Hôtel Marrakech

6. L'Hôtel Marrakech 

Designed by Britain’s Jasper Conran, part of the Conran design dynasty and an accomplished creator in his own right, L'Hôtel Marrakech is a secluded slice of relief from the bustle of the streets outside. Thanks to lush, leafy palms shading a lap pool, an orange-blossom and jasmine filled courtyard, and all-white-everything four-poster beds, the stylish sanctuary makes for the ultimate spot to retreat and recharge. The hotel has just five suites, so book ahead.

41 Derb Sidi Lahcen Ouest Ali
For avant-garde fashion, head to Maison ARTC

7. Maison ARTC

To get a feel for the city’s avant-garde fashion design talents, head to the atelier of local designer Artsi Ifrach of Maison ARTC. Having shown at Paris Couture Week for the last three years, the designer’s unique pieces are crafted exclusively from vintage fabrics and raw materials including family heirlooms. In stark contrast to minimal basics, you’ll be immersed in a world of print, embroidery, ruffles, tassels, colour, recycled metals and statement slogans. And all are one of a kind.

Mohamed El Bequal, 96 Residence Kelly, Gueliz

Riad Yasmine is popular on Instagram for good reason. Image by Leonie Hanne

8. Riad Yasmine

If this riad looks familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve seen it on Instagram or Pinterest. While the hotel’s pool takes centre stage on social media, its shabby-chic rooftop terrace and bathrooms featuring traditional mosaics in striking jade hues are just as worthy of a photo opportunity. Nestled in the streets of the buzzing medina, this boutique hotel is a dreamy relief from the action outside.  

209 Rue Ank Jemel, Bab Taghzout
Morocco’s beauty continues to inspire travellers

Top image by unsplash.com/@keeskortmulder

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