Where to stay
Villa des Orangers
The entrance to this 1930s riad is lodged unpromisingly between a tyre shop and a toilet shop, but inside it unfolds in a series of ornate courtyards shaded by orange trees and featuring Moorish-style plasterwork, fountains and two swimming pools. Its new fine-diner serves Moroccan- and French-influenced Mediterranean dishes.
What to do
Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech
Morocco’s rich cultural traditions and colours inspired the French couturier, who bought a Marrakech riad in the late 1960s. The bold palette of his botanical garden, Jardin Majorelle, has long been a city highlight; the new museum next door features Saint Laurent’s creations and charts his influence.
Hammams are central in Moroccan culture, from simple baths to ornate, historical venues rich in tilework and stained glass. The ultimate Marrakech hammam is Royal Mansour Marrakech Spa, a modern masterpiece of marble inlay, dappled light and tranquillity. Move from warm room to hot room, lather up with black olive-oil soap, and submit to a Moroccan massage with argan oil.
Australian tour company By Prior Arrangement organises personalised itineraries in Marrakech, and elsewhere in Morocco, led by local guides. Specialist tours include culinary heritage, architecture, shopping and fashion.
Where to eat
The stylish terrace atop a caravanserai is challenging to find but its cocktails and French-Moroccan fare are worth the search. Order traditional tagines or seafood pastillas, or French favourites such as duck leg en daube or a selection of pastries.
Seasonal « new Moroccan » cuisine is served at this lantern-hung restaurant in a riad deep inside the medina. The five-course set menu changes frequently as Salt’s visiting-chef program rosters the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi or Shane Delia in the kitchen. Reinterpreted dishes might include lamb shoulder with ras el hanout, prunes and apricots, or camel with caramelised fig and eggplant.