By Susan Cernek
Chalk it up to a few too many viewings of Casablanca and The Man Who Knew Too Much, but a trip to Morocco has topped our fantasy getaway list for some time—notably, the palm-tree-dotted city of Marrakech.
And so, with visions of long lazy lunches of steaming tagines and trips to the souk to find tooled leather bags and vibrant woven rugs in mind, we packed up and headed south to shoot a story for our spring style issue.
Should you too be inspired to book a trip to soak up the vibrant bustling city, here are five places to put at the top of your must-see list. Think of it as your very own Marrakech black book, courtesy of Madewell. Bon voyage!
1. The cool boutique hotel: Riad El Fenn
The brainchild of Vanessa Branson, Sir Richard Branson’s sister, this beautifully appointed riad is perfectly placed in the medina—meaning it’s 30 easy paces to a taxi stand. However, the restaurant and bar are so inviting (and kitted out with great art and a tasty menu) that you may spend every night in.
2. The fashion favorite: YSL’s Jardin Majorelle
The famously lush retreat of late designer Yves Saint Laurent will have you loving and living in cobalt blue. Don’t miss the Berber mini-museum and the gift shop—the latter is loaded up with YSL books that you can’t get stateside.
3. For a fancy nightcap: Hotel La Mamounia
It’s frequently ranked the best hotel in the world and you can see why; the grounds are gorgeously manicured, from the orange groves to the sod tennis courts. All four restaurants are a dream, but the stately Churchill Bar is a favorite. It has potent, perfectly made drinks and fantastic live jazz every night—similar to New York’s Carlyle Hotel or Le Meurice in Paris, but in sun-dipped Marrakech.
4. The photo op: Palais Bahia
One of the most picturesque tourist stops in a gorgeous city. Go late in the day when the crowds have thinned and you get golden-hour light.
5. Round-the-clock shopping stop: Place Jemaa El-Fna + the souks
Behind the big square (where there’s produce for sale during the day and food stands pop up at sundown, along with snake charmers and fire breathers) sits a maze of souks selling everything you can imagine. Prepare to haggle and be sure to pick up a pair (or eight) of leather babouche slippers, some argan oil and all the Berber rugs you can carry. (Hint: You may want to bring or buy an extra bag so you can tote home all your Marrakech treasures.)