11 tips for Marrakech

1. Assume everyone is trying to scam you. Most aren’t but some are. One scam tried on us several times was the claim that a certain street was closed for non-Muslims because of prayers, presumably to make you feel that you needed the help – at a price – of your “helpful” guide to show you another way. I imagine that this might also involve ending up at a particular shop. This scam made no sense at all – yes, only Muslims are allowed in the mosques – but the street? It obviously preys on an anxiety not to cause offence. This website has some good advice about staying savvy in Morocco.

2. For a friendly mid-price riad in a quiet part of the city, stay at Riad Haraka. It’s hidden away in a warren of residential allies in the northern medina. We paid around £35/night for bed and breakfast. It may feel a little spooky after dark in the surrounding allies but that’s part of the charm.

3. Gardens are a great place to escape the bustle. Majorelle is wonderful but a quieter oasis is Le Jardin Secret in the medina. Two gardens occupy the courtyards of an old riad. Take the tour up the tower to have a great view of the Koutoubia and the city with the Atlas Mountains beyond.

The Secret Garden

4. Splurge on dinner at Dar Zellij. Start with a sunset drink on the terrace before dining on upmarket Moroccan fare to the sound of live gnaoua music. Yes, it’s a tiny bit twee and touristy but the building is spectacular and the food delicious.

5. Have a quick wander around Jemma el-Fnaa of course, but to people-watch in more relaxed surroundings, find the Place des Épices. Have tea on one of roof terraces for a view of the Koutobia and the sound of the call to prayer.

6. Escape the city and spend a day by the pool at Manzil la Tortue, basically a giant pool with loungers and gastro-food run by three French guys. You could even stay the night in one of their glamping tents.

Manzil’s ridiculous pool

7. Quickly learn to accept the mopeds. They swarm like wasps down every street and are very annoying. Life isn’t perfect.

8. If you tire of couscous and tagines, find Beats Burger in the souk.

9. Get to the airport early. You will be checked seven times before you get on the plane.

10. Have a hammam. The tourist places are pricey and the baths for the locals might be a little intimidating, so ask your riad if they can arrange anything. Riad Haraka does a private scrub-plus-massage up on their terrace. Ninety minutes for about £50.

11. Haggling and the souk experience are overrated. Go to the Complexe d’Artisanat in the kasbah quarter. Prices are fixed and you can browse without too much hassle.

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