My husband and I along with another couple traveled to Marrakech, Morocco over the Christmas holiday. Even though Moroccans don’t celebrate Christmas, December is still the busies time of the year to travel there. December is their winter season but the temperature changes throughout the day. Temperatures in the morning can get as low as 50 degrees. Around 2:00 pm the temperature can get as high as 80 degrees. You’ll definitely have to dress in layers that can be taken off throughout the day. With the exchange rate at 1 USD = 10 MAD (Moroccan Dirham), your dollar goes a long way here. With that said, let me take you through our 4 days in Marrakech.
There weren’t a lot of hotel chains where you can use loyalty points. Our friends stayed at Hyatt property Ksar Char- Bagh. This was a gorgeous secluded property where you can redeem for 30,000 Hyatt points per night. If you have American Express, Chase, or Capital One points, it’s best to book your lodging through their prospective travel portal. We booked the Riad Wow through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. I used the cash and points option and paid 40,000 points + $150 for 4 days. The normal rate was around $200 per night. The cash option isn’t a bad price but why use all of your cash on lodging if you don’t have to. In Marrakech, most hotels are called riad. This is a home that’s been converted into a boutique hotel. The Riad Wow was a gorgeous boutique hotel in the heart of the Old Medina. I would highly recommend staying here.
We ate breakfast each morning in our riad. They served a buffet style breakfast for 8 euros per day. Our favorite lunch spot was in the medina square. It was called L’Adresse and served traditional Moroccan and American food. The prices were around 10 USD per person and everything we had was really good. Throughout our trip we ate a Moroccan dish called tagine a lot. This is meat and vegetables cooked together in a ceramic dish. Some of the Moroccan food was decent and others lacked seasoning. The higher-end restaurants will have live entertainment. You'll experience belly dancers or a band. They were all entertaining and interactive.
Marrakech is great for shopping. For my ladies, I did notice in stores like Zara, the clothes are more conservative than you would see back in the U.S. If you are looking for bags, leather goods, Berber rugs or souvenirs, then head to the medina and be ready to negotiate. I suggest taking a local tour guide to help you negotiate prices. Our tour guide got us around 70% off. You can easily get overwhelmed with the many shops. Most of the shops sell the same thing so try not to price shop too much. If you are interested in a rug, this is definitely the place to buy one. You’ll pay at least 40% of the price you would pay in the U.S. for a similar rug. Just be prepared to be in the carpet store for a few hours. They’ll want to sit you down, provide you with a carpet demonstration, and offer you tea.
Marrakech is the Vegas of Morocco. There was a good selection of places to party or chill places to listen to some great R&B music. For an after dinner spot, head over to So Lounge in the Sofitel Hotel. If it's warm outside, there is a massive sexy lounge in the courtyard. Inside, there is a stage where you'll hear the latest R&B songs from international bands.
Just a short walk from the Sofitel Hotel is a burlesque club inside Casino de Marrakech. In between the DJ playing, there was a burlesque show with ladies dancing on bars and tables. This place was lit! We left around 2:00 am and the party was still going strong. With nightclubs open until 5:00 am everyday, Moroccans know how to party and they spare no expense. The only bad part about visiting these places is the smoking. Everyone smokes in the clubs so it takes some getting used to.
We were able to see the main attractions of Marrakech in 2 days. Listed are my top favorites.
1. Dar el Bacha Palace - 6 USD
This palace doesn’t have many artifacts but you go for the great photos. I suggest hiring a photographer from Airbnb Experiences. This palace is gorgeous and has a few nooks for photos. If you go before noon, you can almost have this place to yourself.
2. Jardin Majorelle - 7 USD
This garden was revitalized by the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurant. It gets really crowded no matter the time you arrive. Travel Tip: If you go with a tour guide, you can cut the long lines to purchase tickets. This will easily save you 30 minutes. We arrived as soon as they opened.
3. Yves Saint Laurant Museum - 10 USD
This museum is a 5 minute walk from Jardin Majorelle. It features the designers work when he was the assistant to Christian Dior as well as YSL archived couture pieces. The clothes and jewelry on display were stunning. Surprisingly there wasn’t a store to purchase any of his pieces.
4. Ouzoud Waterfall
Since we had a private driver, we decided to take a day trip 1 hour away to visit a Berber village and the Ouzoud Waterfall in the Atlas Mountain. Once we arrived at the village, the host invited us into her home. It was warm and inviting with 2 cows inside and a crackling fire. The host showed us the long process of making mint tea and offered us homemade bread. It is customary to provide a small token for the hospitality. We gave around 10 USD.
After a short ride, through the Atlas Mountain, we arrived to the entrance of the hike. There you can hire a tour guide. I strongly recommend this because he will assist you in getting up the mountain. This was the best 30 USD spent. The mountain is pretty steep and you’ll need the guides assistance getting up certain parts. I wouldn’t recommend this for kids or people with mobility issues.. You’ll hike for about 1 hour to get to the first of three waterfalls. Getting to the main waterfall isn’t for the faint of heart. We didn't have the strength or courage to continue the climb so we decided to head back after the first waterfall.
Overall Marrakech is a vibrant mixed with new and old, smog filled city with authentic culture. The best flight option to get there is using 44,000 economy/ 88,000 business class Etihad Airways miles to fly Royal Air Maroc roundtrip. One way routes are available and would be half the miles. Royal Air Maroc has a great business class product and you can read my full detailed review here.
Have you been to Marrakech? What were some of your highlights? Please check out and subscribe to my Marrakech YouTube Travel Guide.