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Meet Me In Marrakesh

Meet Me In Marrakesh - Stella McCartney dress

"Marrakesh taught me colour," so said Yves Saint Laurent, "Before Marrakesh, everything was black." Also known as the 'Red City' thanks to the almost Pantone-matched terracotta hue of its architecture, from the chiselled 12th-century, nine-meter high Medina walls to new builds mid-construction, Marrakesh’s claim on colour extends to the vibrancy of its tiles and textiles, the indelible blue of its skies and the silvery-white of the Atlas Mountains’ snowy peaks protruding beyond. A veritable melting pot of East and West, tradition and modernity, chaos and calm, the Moroccan city has lured fashion’s finest – Mr Saint Laurent, and more besides – for good reason, and its getaway credentials remain virtually unrivalled, so prep your holiday wardrobe and get planning...

  • Meet Me In Marrakesh - Zimmermann
  • Meet Me In Marrakesh - packing shot

Whether you’ve chosen to be based away from the hustle and bustle at the likes of the Fellah Hotel – less than 20km away from the city centre and oasis-like with spectacular mountain views – or at the Medina’s heart in a converted riad, the labyrinthine streets of the old city and its souks will beckon you in with the promise of an exhilarating purchase or two. Best tackled in the relative cool of the morning, keep respectively covered up in style by teaming lightweight separates – a cool cotton shirt and breezy trousers – or choosing a long sleeve midi dress, and adding just a pair of sunglasses and a mini bag (make Stella McCartney and Chloé your go-tos) to maximise how much you can carry on the return.

While the narrow, winding streets might seem indistinguishable, which souk you’re in will determine what you find – look for Souk el Attarine for heady scents, lamps and lanterns, and Souk Cherratin for leather, for example – and know that all roads eventually lead back to the main square: Jemaa el-Fnaa. For those who prefer everything under one roof, the Aladdin’s cave that is Mustapha Blaoui, lined with carpets, dripping with light fittings and decked with inlaid furniture and ceramics, is a must-visit.

  • Make your way to the Spice Square for a pit stop – choosing Café des Epices for a refreshing mint tea or a tasty tagine, or Nomad, just across the square, for a contemporary take on traditional Moroccan cuisine and a rooftop view.

  • Meet Me In Marrakesh - Chloe
  • Meet Me In Marrakesh
  • "Marrakesh taught me colour. Before Marrakesh, everything was black."
    Yves Saint Laurent
Meet Me In Marrakesh - Dodo Bar Or dress

More than a luxury indulgence, for Moroccans, hammam is a way of life, so make sure to reserve an afternoon – perhaps post-souks – or even a full day, and dedicate it to the ultimate in relaxation. The spas at both La Mamounia and The Royal Mansour are world-renowned, but The Beldi Country Club’s, set within 15 acres of sprawling rose gardens and olive groves, offers added natural tranquillity. Having been steamed, scrubbed and pampered, emerge cleansed and in poolside attire – think colourful kaftans and cover-ups over a chic one piece or bikini – to while away the rest of the afternoon.

  • Meet Me In Marrakesh - Lisa Marie Fernandez bikini
  • Meet Me In Marrakesh - Dodo Bar Or
  • "Spa days call for chic cover-ups by Dodo Bar Or and Jonathan Simkhai."

If not at the spa, afternoons in Marrakesh are made for taking in the city’s many cultural highlights – from serene gardens to galleries and palaces. Style summer dresses by Vilshenko, Zimmermann and Alice + Olivia with flat sandals and seek out the Maison de la Photographie for a visual history of Morocco since the 1860s, or the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) to discover the continent’s leading contemporary artists. The 14th-century Ben Youssef Madrasa, considered one of the world’s best examples of Moorish architecture, is closed for renovation, but don’t despair because the 19th-century Bahia Palace offers a glorious look at over two centuries of Moroccan opulence, while the ruined El Badi Palace, completed in 1593, conjures an impression of the magnificence of the Kings of Morocco in its scale alone.

Yves Saint Laurent’s eponymous street, Rue Yves St Laurent, plays host to the famed Jardin Majorelle’s bamboo walkways lined with vivid pots, towering cacti and lily pad-dappled ponds – the garden of the house Mr Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé owned. And now, just down the street, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent gives a glimpse into the designer’s unique world, where colour, culture and creativity combined to iconic effect. A fashion mecca if ever there was one.

  • Meet Me In Marrakesh - Vilshenko dress
  • "Style summer dresses with sandals to seek out the city's serene gardens, galleries and palaces."
  • Meet Me In Marrakesh - The Beldi Country Club
  • But Marrakesh unveils its true majesty at dusk; it’s when Jemaa el-Fnaa comes alive with snake charmers and storytellers, and a rooftop bar is the place to be. Swap day dresses for directional shirting by Johanna Ortiz or Caroline Constas and punctuate your look with a red lip. La Sultana’s rooftop is a breath-taking spot, from which you can see the Saadian Tombs courtyard below, or the candle-lit garden at Bô Zin will host you for drinks, dinner and late-night dancing.

  • Meet Me In Marrakesh - Johanna Ortiz
  • Meet Me In Marrakesh - beauty shot
  • "Marrakesh unveils its true majesty at dusk."