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Travelling with HGAT #4: Halal Girl About Marrakech

Dearest reader, are you actually booking a holiday or are you reading this because you’re daydreaming about a time when you’re exam stress-free? Are you reading this just, so you don’t have to open any of the books you checked out of the library at the beginning of the year when you told yourself that this year would be different? The ones that now mean you have a ridiculous amount of fines because other people who are actually studying are requesting those very books?

We know that is what you’re doing. We did it too and we would like to tell you that you should get back to studying (obvs after you’ve read this article) and just get your head down and get on with it. We have a catalogue of exam help including navigating exam stress, what to eat and even keeping fit whilst revising. So, read this blog, then those and get on with it. You will thank us when you get your results!

Halal Girl About Marrakech

If you’re in dire need of a break away from the constant grey of the UK, plus the sporadic snow (in March?!), where could you possibly go for a quick weekend away? Marrakech! I know, the first thought that came to your mind is “Marrakech? Really?” but it is quickly becoming one of the most stylish and fashionable places to be. Plus it ticks all the boxes for the ideal long weekend away: the weather is always great (minus the summer), the short travel time, and all the food is halal! Without further ado, here is my guide to Marrakech.

Getting There

Getting to Marrakech entails a short 3-hour direct flight from the UK to Morocco.

HGAT

Where to stay

For a traditional Moroccan experience, it is advised to stay in a riad in the medina, especially if it is your first time. A riad is a traditional house that has been built around a quaint and pretty courtyard and is ideal for hiding away from the busy streets. Recommended riads: El Fenn, La Sultana, and Riad Yasmine.

If you’re returning to Marrakech or fancy staying away from the crowds and noise of the Medina, the large hotels outside the centre are simply beautiful: La Mamounia, Royal Mansour, and the Royal Palm. You can also stay in Gueliz, the modern counterpart of Marrakech.

What to see

If you’re short on time, not to worry, Marrakech has a handful of key sightseeing highlights that can be covered in a few days. Here are some must-sees:

To really soak up the atmosphere of this vibrant city, head straight to the Djemaa el-Fna (translates to “assembly of the dead”) which comes to life as evening approaches and is full of snake charmers, numerous street food vendors and story-tellers

The Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in Marrakech, is worth a visit and the surrounding gardens are ideal for people-watching.

The Bahia Palace and Palais El Badi are situated just close by, as are the Saadian Tombs.

Jardin Majorelle, also known as the YSL Gardens, is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and a must visit. It is also home to the Musee Berbere; a showcase of all types of ancient artefacts, with a heavy focus on clothing and traditional jewellery.

If you’re looking for some adventure, some adrenaline, just something, book an excursion of the Atlas Mountains.

Marrakech is known for their traditional hammams, where you’ll endure a full body head-to-toe scrub with black soap.

If you have some time to spare, I highly recommend heading to the desert for a spot of glamping (yes, luxury camping!) at Scarabeo Camp. With no wi-fi or any electricity, it is the ultimate getaway from everything and everyone!

HGAT

What to eat

—> As Morocco is a Muslim country, the halal food scene was heaven to me! Just be sure to double check no alcohol is used in the preparation of your dishes when ordering.

—> The typical Moroccan breakfast that you will be served consists of msemen (semolina pancakes), freshly squeezed orange juice, eggs, and a whole load of carbs! A heavy but delicious way to start the day.

—> For lunch, you can pop into one of the casual eateries dotted around the main square, and some of the more notable ones are Roti D’or, Bakchic Cafe, Cafe des Epices, Cafe Kif Kif, and Cafe Clock (famous for their camel burgers!).

—> Dinner can go both ways in Marrakech. For a more traditional Moroccan experience, you can head to Al Fassia (their lamb shoulder is an imperative order!), as well as Amal.

—> Alternatively, you can opt for a more modern taste of the Moroccan cuisine, and head to fusion restaurants like Nomad, Terrase des Epices, and Pepe Nero. If you’re after a really fancy meal, La Mamounia is home to a 2 Michelin starred Italian restaurant, L’italien. Be sure to head to the hotel a little earlier for a mocktail before dinner so you can really soak up the pretty grounds.

Would I return to Marrakech? In a heartbeat. This small city packs so much culture, charm, and delicious food within its walls, and is well worth visiting time after time. It is the most versatile destination for people of all ages and status; both young and old couples, families with toddlers, friends, or even a solo traveller!

TIPS FOR MARRAKECH

—> In the Medina, especially the square, you may feel harassed for money. It’s easier to refuse everyone, even the snake charmers and monkey carers (except if you want to take a photo).

—> Avoid getting henna done in the square as they use harmful chemicals in the mehndi causing severe allergic reactions, plus charge almost x1000 the normal price. If you really want to get henna done, find somewhere outside the square!

—> If you become lost, please ask for directions from inside a store or restaurant. Locals on the street will approach you and offer to show you the way, but unfortunately, there are some who may lead you the wrong way into the dark alleys and ask for money. It is worth downloading an offline map from Google to guide yourself around rather than following strangers.

—> Haggle for everything in the souks as the price will be inflated by 75%.

—> Pack a pair of comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking around a lot, especially if you decide to climb the Atlas Mountains.

—> Summer can be extremely hot so book a trip either before June or from September onwards.

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