We were up at the crack of dawn for our early morning flight to Marrakech and arrived three hours later, just in time to be whisked away by private transfer to our riad, Palais Lamrani. As we stepped through the wooden door, we left the dusty street behind us and entered into a beautiful oasis. What lay before us was a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity. A harmonious marriage of various traditions and cultures. We were in awe as we were led on a tour of the riad, immersing ourselves in what can only be described as paradise. After a brief photo session and an interesting family history lesson from Noémie the current owner, we checked into our stunning rooms to unpack and get acquainted with our luxurious surroundings. We met up in the main courtyard and enjoyed a delicious lunch with 2 bottles of local wine from the Atlas Mountains. It was very strong and as a result we got very tipsy. After a leisurely lunch we explored part of the souk and inevitably got lost. Overwhelmed by all the sights and smells it was bound to happen and will probably be a reoccurring factor. Through sheer luck we finally stumbled onto the main square and watched the hustle and bustle from the rooftop terrace at Café de France. We went back to freshen up for dinner at the very posh Café Arabe. It is another riad which is a short walking distance from ours. We made our way along the busy street while being curiously watched by the locals. Yet again, the street outside belies the jewel that awaits you beyond the front door. We had an amazing dinner poolside washed down by another bottle of the local wine, Sahari Gris. It had been an expensive first day but we deserved to treat ourselves. We walked back to our riad trying not to make eye contact with some of the creepy men and enjoyed a nightcap on our rooftop terrace before heading to bed.
We mustered the energy for an early morning swim to invigorate our tired and slightly hungover heads. Feeling refreshed and awake we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. Banting flew out the window and carbs and sugar were re introduced into our lives and admittedly we were in temporary heaven. You only live once and who can say no to pancakes, apricot jam and homemade orange cake. We devoured and enjoyed every morsel. Reenergised, we were ready for some sightseeing and hopped into a cab to the Majorelle gardens which was created as a botanical sanctuary. They were beautifully maintained and lush. The sunshine was glorious and the bright colours shone through the gardens with an intensity and vibrancy that lifted your spirit and ensured a successful photo shoot. Our next stop was Medersa Ben Youssef, a 16th century theological college. The central courtyard is so beautiful with it's lovely tiling, decorative plasterwork and carved-wood panelling. The effect is sublime and very therapeutic. Many hours could be spent here, contemplating life and pondering the universe. After the serenity of the college we once again immersed ourselves into the chaotic souk, mesmerised by a crafts man making carvings and souvenirs with his feet. He was so lovely and friendly and surprisingly not pushy at all. We weren't prepared for all the detours and distractions and after several hours traipsing around in the intense heat we found a quiet rooftop terrace where we had a little break. We had our first tajine, it was a beef kefta and it was delicious. Feeling recharged we made our way back to the riad to chill out and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. We swam and did some planking by the pool and then took our positions on the sun deck listening to music and lying in the beautiful heat of the sun. Salla brought us wine and snacks which we enjoyed in privacy. We were being treated like queens and since we were currently the only guests in the riad, we loved every minute of it. We had dinner at a small café nearby. It was delightful and the waiter was a little joker. Jubaida let out a scream when one of the many wretched cats tried to jump onto her lap for a cuddle. It was the funniest thing and of course a laughing fit ensued. I think the staff must have thought we were all a bit loopy. After dinner we all felt like a bit of a dance and took a taxi to club So at the Sofitel in the new town. It had such potential and the music was good but the place was So empty and the staff were So rude. We sat outside shivering in the cold hoping in vain for people to turn up. At 1am we called time and negotiated a taxi home. The driver was quite animated and kept chatting instead of watching the road. Jubaida had to sit in the middle and duck every time police were sighted. It was a small taxi so legally it could only carry 4 passengers which includes the driver. It had been an eventful day and now we were ready to fall into bed.
In the morning we swam again before breakfast. Our waistlines would definitely be increasing on this holiday but we didn't care. Everything was so lovely and enticing we just couldn't say no. Today was dedicated to shopping and we were ready for a day of sensory overload. Everyone had a list and we were eager to try our hand at haggling. Our first appointment was with Isea at the pharmacy. All we wanted was a few spices and herbs but instead we were sat down for a two hour presentation on the healing effects of a various selection of products. It was very interesting but by the end of it our minds were overwhelmed by too much information. Of course we were over zealous in our selection of products so settling the bill was a hard task. After dropping off our things we ventured back into the souks for round two. Exhausted and armed with bags of shopping we made our way to the main square for a well deserved break before continuing with our bargain hunting. By the end we were totally finished and in desperate need of a refreshing dip in our pool. This evening we got suited and booted and had a delicious dinner in our riad before heading to Jad Mahal for an evening of show girls and live entertainment. We wanted to party Moroccan style and were not disappointed. The old balding contingent were out in full force with their gaggle of escorts. Splashing cash like there is no tomorrow. Drinks were expensive so we were nursing ours. At 3am we walked over to club Teatro to get our groove on. Entrance cost £30 per person so once we got over the shock we headed inside to find a good spot. The crowd were very posy but the music was really good and once again there were live performances. This must be the norm in Morocco. They had masked people on stilts, fire breathers, samba drummers and dancers doing the rounds. It was crazy but in a good way. At the end of the night we somehow ended up in the Vip section drinking champagne with Fitii and Samil, two seemingly high fliers. It had been a great night and at 5am we made our way back to the riad to get some sleep.
After two hours we were up again hoping that a morning swim would make us feel marginally better. Breakfast was once again devoured and to ease our sore heads we tried some mint tea with the eucalyptus crystals we bought at the pharmacy. To the unsuspecting public it would appear as if we were partaking in the consumption of crystal meth. It is very potent and only a small amount was needed. This morning we all had massages so we took it in turns and allowed the talented masseuse to completely take control and work her magic. It was absolutely heavenly and sent us into a comatose trance. Today was our last day and we felt very sad to be leaving this beautiful oasis. We did the last bit of shopping before securing a spot on the sun loungers. We wanted to catch our last bit of sun before flying back to grey and miserable London. The rest of the day was spent at our leisure. We really wanted to take full advantage of our gorgeous surroundings. This riad is truly a special and luxurious place and we were already making plans for our return next year. We had our final lunch by the pool and tried our best to take it all in. We had to have the cheese briouttes one last time. Then it was time to return to the sun to top up our tans. We were really finding it easy to be ladies of leisure and have willing and able staff at our beck and call. Once the sun set we packed our bags and got ready for our last evening in Marrakech. The owners of the riad invited us to complimentary cocktails which was such a lovely gesture. We toasted to a fabulous time spent in a city that is so vibrant, chaotic and seeped in history. Where peace and tranquillity can be found hidden behind unassuming doors and people seem mysterious but are friendly and welcoming. We met Fitii and Samil at their hotel for pre drinks before returning to Jad Mahal for dinner. We spent so much time waiting for the two men to get ready that we only ate at 1am. It was going to be yet another late night.
After hardly any sleep it was time to have breakfast and say goodbye to the paradise we've been so lucky to have experienced. Our expectations have been surpassed tenfold and once again our memory bank has been filled with a plethora of amazing memories. I believe we have only seen a glimpse of what Marrakech has to offer. The crazy and sometimes chaotic souks filled with an array of stalls, where wretched cats meander and the sights and smells overwhelm your senses. Where the poverty is real and on full display yet everyone goes about their business as best as they can. Where in stark contrast to the medina, the new city exudes an air of arrogance and luxury only accessible to the rich and hip. We have been completely beguiled by the Red City and have sworn hand on heart to return.