Marrakech during Ramadan? What’s the point; aren’t all Moroccans at home fasting?
Well, no. Marrakech is still buzzing during Ramadan and to be honest, it’s my favourite time to visit. Yes, the majority of Moroccans are fasting, but they still work, and shops and businesses are still open.
The main difference is that it’s quieter during the day. The atmosphere is chilled, I assume because it’s hot, and most are trying to conserve energy and keep their spirits high. Practising Muslims have no food or fluids (even water) during the day, but once it’s time to break their fast and celebrate, the place wakes up.
I’ve visited Marrakech many times, but this time around we decided to take the kids, and Lizzy came along for the ride too.
Each time I see something new, but I can’t help visit my old favourites. As Marrakech has grown in popularity amongst holiday-goers, so have the hotspots. I’d planned to return to Jardin Majorelle, also known as YSL Gardens, formally owned by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. However, waiting times have increased along with the amount of selfie-taking tourists. Although extremely beautiful and worth the wait, I thought I’d give it a miss considering we had three kids who weren’t used to the Moroccan heat.
So, what else is there to see?
A gorgeous alternative was The Secret Garden. No queue, positively quaint and oh-so-peaceful. Admittedly, it wasn’t at all entertaining for the kids, but it was an excellent way to relax and reflect on the busy time we’d had so far.
The gardens are filled with exotic plants, native to Marrakech’s rich culture. Rosemary rides on the breeze as you wander through and follow the flowing water. The garden’s features represent Islamic beliefs as described in the Quran and are filled to the brim with historical attributes.
Food, bring it!
I’ll keep this short and sweet, but Mama Afrika is an absolute fave of mine. We’ve been every time, the food is just amazing and prices are affordable. As the Café is geared more towards locals, you can expect to spend no more than £8 on a drink, main meal and side. Mama Afrika’s dishes are a blend of Africa’s most flavoursome foods; the best of the continent’s culinary influences on one plate.
Souks of Marrakech
There are lots of twists and turns off of the Medina, and if you’re not alone, as any street-smart person would say in any part of the world, feel free to get lost and explore. Morrocan goodies including spices, leather goods, brass knockers, carpets, teapots, perfumes and more fill each lane. Be aware that tourists stick out a mile, so expect inflated prices, but you can haggle. A rule of thumb that I used was that they’ve quadrupled the amount. Be brave, and don’t stick to the original price. Bear in mind that anything you find will be sold less than a metre away anyway!
Why stay in A Riad?
I’m a self-confessed hotel fiend, and when I’m on holiday, I want at least 4-Star accommodation. Yes, I’m a bit of a hotel snob, but that was until we visited a traditional Moroccan Riad. Why have I never stayed in a Riad? I think I conjured up images of dark rooms and zero luxury. Ignorant, yes. I fully admit it. After visiting Riad El Zohar I want to kick my former Bouji self in the butt. Not only is this Riad beautiful and luxurious, but it was also full of Moroccan culture that you cannot get in a hotel. If you want an accurate representation of Morrocco, stay in a Riad, there’s no other way. I listed at least three reasons to stay in El Zohar before I’d even left the country. It’s the perfect place to travel with friends and stay under one (open) roof. Think 30th, 40th, or special anniversary; a getaway with friends. However, due to stairs and high railings overlooking the courtyard, it’s not a great one for kids. Again, think the perfect chilled getaway for some grownup fun, not forgetting being able to drink Moroccan wine without the worry of watching over little ones.
Even though this isn’t a sponsored post, I would still like to give a shout out to our hotel. Al Andalous Hotel And Spa was our home for a week. Boasting 195 rooms including ten suites, and ‘4-Star realness’, this hotel was affordable for our family of 5 and super friendly. Thank you for having us.
Would I revisit Marrakech?
For sure! The ridiculous amount of things that I had no space in my suitcase for is reason number one. Plus, I haven’t even taken a trip to the Atlas mountains or numerous museums and incredible Hammam Spas.
Next time we visit, it’ll be classy and luxurious. I’ll stay in a Riad, leave the kids at home and bring an empty suitcase. The suitcase will be filled with Moroccan charm including multiple leather goods. Unapologetically so.