A few weeks ago we went on a buying trip to Morocco and thought you might like to see some images of our time there. I also promised some people that I’d finally share my top tips for places to go for great food and atmosphere, which we’ll get to in a moment…
My favourite time to visit the country is early spring, up until June, when it’s not busy in the souk and the weather is nice – fresh in the morning, heating up during the day, but not getting too hot yet.
While we’re out there we travel a lot to small villages, not just for buying, but to get a better feel of the culture of weaving and gain more understanding of the traditions of Moroccan rural life. Weaving is something the women do together in a group and you can read more about boucherouites, the newer rugs in our collection that are pictured below, in one of our older posts here.
We also work with suppliers who source vintage rugs specifically for us to view. When I’m choosing the rugs to buy I’m often drawn to faded colours, which comes from age, but as a business I need to constantly strike a balance between price and emotional response. Both have to be right.
soaking up the atmosphere
The colours of Morocco are so particular and in some ways they translate into the rugs too – for instance the faded pinky tones of the city walls and hot orange shades that feature in the street scenes, often set against neutral taupes and contrasting blues.
As a culture, food is an important element and Ramadam is a big part of the experience if you’re travelling to Morocco later in the year, in summertime. At around 4pm after people have been fasting all day – before the sun goes down to signal when it’s time to eat – you begin to feel the souk boiling, not only from warmth because of the time of year, but because people are suddenly rushing to buy food to take home after a long day.
When it feels as though everyone is away eating, a quietness descends on the streets and it’s lovely to wander around at this time.
If you are planning to travel to Morocco, we have some great addresses to share from Marrakech…
Favourite places to eat
Aside from my work, the thing I love about Morocco is the food and I have observed that a lot of the chefs in Morocco seem to be woman. But in any case it’s easy to find great food from a chicken or lamb tagine, to humous and all sorts of aubergine dishes.
Palmerai, hotel area
If you don’t fancy staying in one of the many Riads in the Medina, head to Palmerai for your pick of great hotels with pools and a more relaxed vibe. The most charming and unique of all of them is Dar Ayniwen Taffeta Palmerai. Interiors are eclectic and classically Moroccan and the lush plantation makes it feel like a quiet hideaway.
Gueliz shopping district
Gueliz is the more modern area of Marrakesh and is a bit of a shopping Mecca – think chi chi boutiques as well as high street shops such as Zara. The wonderful Yves Saint Laurent Jardin Majorelle is in this area too, which is a great place to visit for the famous blue architecture and some fauna inspiration. If dining in this area try the relaxed Restaurant Le chat qui rit or, for something more upmarket, Restaurant Grand cafe de la poste Gueliz. There’s also Restaurant La Bagatelle, a classically French place with a huge gallery wall of portraits defining the decoration. Bagatelle opens early for breakfast but is also great for afternoon tea.
Around the SOUK
La Maison Arabe is a gorgeous traditional hotel that’s in the central Medina area. It’s a lovely place to eat and is also close enough to go for a wander in the Bab Doukkala market, where locals go for their food in the early evening. Try Pepenero Resto for very good Italian food.
Outside the city centre
The place with the best setting outside the city centre is Hotel Selman – dinner or lunch in the beautiful surroundings is a real treat and if you’re staying there you can work it off again in the super long swimming pool before retreating to one of the handsome rooms. Serene is the word for this place.