Marrakesh Musts: Hammam Spa, Souks and Smoking Shisha
Morocco has ALWAYS been on my Top Travel Bucket List because the photos look so magical! It always seemed full of mystery and beauty. Now that I have been there, I can tell you that it’s definitely unique and worth the visit. If you think the photos look great on Instagram, they look even better in person. The architecture, interior design and bold colors everywhere is truly magnificent.
This was my first time in Morocco and the sights, sounds, noises, smells… everything was very different than any other country I had been too. My friends and I stayed at a Riad we booked through Airbnb inside the Medina. Inside the Medina walls are the famous Marrakesh souks and the largest mosque in Marrakesh called the Koutoubia Mosque. The Bahia Palace and other tourist sites inside are worth looking into and learning about.
* Travel Tip: If you are looking for a more traditional and more conservative experience of Marrakesh, I suggest staying inside the Medina. If you want something more modern and Westernized with luxuries like fast wifi (It was frustrating not being able to get any work done with the not-so-great wifi we had at the riad), I suggest staying outside the Medina or at the 5 star resorts right by the entrance of the Medina, like La Mamounia. I fell in LOVE with that place!
Outside of the Medina walls, things are much different. You definitely see a more modern Marrakesh with new buildings, hotels and resorts, shops, etc. It’s more Westernized and you can see the European/French influence with the architecture still staying true to Moroccan designs. Inside the Medina walls, everyone was dressed more conservatively so we made sure to be respectful of that. Dresses and skirts are fine, but I carried a shawl and avoided really low cut tops and outfits. When we went out for drinks outside of the Medina, everyone was dressed up like they would if they were out in NYC, Miami or LA.
The 3 top things you should experience when you go to Marrakesh, especially if it is your first time, are the Hammam spas (traditional Moroccan spa treatment), shopping in the souks (outdoor markets) and smoking shisha. The last one you don’t have to if you don’t want to but I love to smoke shisha (called hookah in the USA) so if you’re open to it, definitely sit back, relax and order shisha at one of the lounges and restaurants that have it. My favorite things to do is mix flavors. I mix something fruity (citrus fruit, apple or strawberry) with mint. It is so refreshing and smooth!
I HIGHLY recommend going to La Mamounia Palace Hotel and Spa for your relaxing day at the spa. This is totally worth the splurge! It’s actually a deal if you compare it to spa prices in the USA.
* Travel Tip: Book your appointment before 3pm and your day spa fee is included in the treatment price. If you book after 3pm, you will need to pay the day spa fee on top of your treatment fee. So go early, get your treatment, then enjoy the amenities like, their gorgeous indoor pool, for a few hours.
Every part and detail of La Mamounia was intrique and exquisite. It’s a photographer’s dream! La Mamounia’s Spa is actually the most photographed spa on Instagram. LOL! That social media marketing totally works because that is how we found out about this spa and booked our hammam treatments. We literally spend most of our day at La Mamounia to relax. We had our treatments, lounged in the indoor pool, had lunch and sun bathed by the pool outside. Ammmazzzinggg!!!
Traditional Morroccan medicine relies heavily on plants and holistic treatments. I absolutely LOVE this because I’m all about that life! You will find TONS of these types of stores and pharmacies all over the city. From my own experience, Nature holds the keeps to keeping us healthy and happy. I believe in preventative and alternative medicine, using plants, herbs and natural sources. There was something there for all ailments.
* Tip: If you love to cook, buy some Moroccan spices while you’re there! They literally go well with everything. Your proteins, soups, rice, etc. If you love saffron, Morocco is the place to get it.
Morrocan food is so flavorful and delicious! It was easy for me to eat plant-based and still enjoy the cultural flavors because those flavors are from all the spices they use in their cuisine. They had vegetable tagines and I ate tons of that with rice.
The traditional drink of choice is Mint tea with sugar. Sometimes it can be way too sweet so I recommend ordering it without sugar and just adding your own if you want. I love my tea simple with nothing added but hot water so I can fully enjoy the tastes and smells of the herbs and tea leaves.
* Travel Tip: You MUST haggle! They mark up the prices a LOT. I always start with 70-80% off the price they give me and I stop by several shops to compare pricing. You will find anything you want in many of the shops at the souks. Cash is KING!
I fell in love with these beautiful lamps and lanterns. The patterns and use of sacred geometry and design were so dazzling. Next time I have an opportunity to have lamps like these, I will!
Another place we went to visit was Jardin Marjorelle. It’s not a huge garden so it won’t take too long to see the entire property. They have lots of different cacti varieties which were very interesting to see. It was very fitting for the desert terrain and weather in Morocco. I was there in the middle of September and it was in the high 90s Fahrenheit. It felt like I was in Las Vegas in the peak of summer.
Overall, I’m happy I was finally able to visit Morocco. I know there is so much more to see that we did not get to experience in a few days. Next time, I am staying at a luxury resort outside of the Medina and just treating myself to spa days all the time.
If you every have an opportunity to visit Marrakesh, DO IT! It’s a great cultural experience. Go there with an open mind and appreciation for its uniqueness.
If you haven’t read my past #MarianTravels blog posts, check out the rest of my Euro trip here: Florence/Tuscany-Italy, Santorini-Greece, Mykonos-Greece, Nice-France, Majorca-Spain, Ibiza/Formentera, Spain and London-U.K.
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