I just returned from Morocco and I am so excited to share this North African jewel with fellow travelers while I am still glowing from all the glorious sunshine and delicious tagine! Morocco is a relatively short flight (7 hours direct from New York on Royal Air Maroc), which makes it a perfect destination for shorter trips: I was there for 9 nights and had plenty of time to visit Fes, Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains.
Fes is the most complete medieval city in the Arab world (interestingly, it also has tons of Jewish history) and while there I visited Volubilis, the largest Roman city of ancient Morocco, and the holy pilgrimage town of Moulay de Idriss. This is the region where many of the country’s handicrafts are made, so I was able to spend time with the artisans who craft the elaborate mosaic tables and fountains for which Morocco is so famous.
From Fes, I traveled to Marrakech and spent several days wandering through the souks, medina, and gardens, and sampling all of the extraordinary cuisine. I stayed at Riad Kniza, which was the most pleasant surprise of my trip. Managed by a family that has owned it for several hundred years, this boutique gem is right in the center of the medina. The staff are experts at Moroccan hospitality, and I enjoyed late night swims in the courtyard pool as well as a private cooking class with their talented chef, Amina. Riad Kniza’s beautiful candlelit courtyard is pictured below.
I was also thrilled to stay at Kasbah Tamadot, the only property of its kind in North Africa. Nestled in the scenic foothills of the Atlas Mountains and surrounded by Berber villages, it operates very much like a South African lodge: the management is in constant contact with guests, arranging spa treatments and activities. The property’s new Berber Tents are extraordinary, with private heated plunge pools, espresso machines, and chic décor. I loved it!
I also stayed Amanjena, which is always a treat – and rumor has it that they have recently bought a riad in seaside Essaouira. In other hotel news, there is a new Mandarin Oriental in Marrakech, which should open by the end of the year, and just a few weeks ago, La Mamounia finally opened its doors after an extensive three-year renovation! I would be happy to discuss a customized itinerary to Morocco so please do not hesitate to contact me or you can visit our website to see some of our suggested itineraries!
NATALIE’S MOROCCO: INSIDER TIPS FROM AN EXPERT
Where to stay:
Riad Kniza and Kasbah Tamadot: unique properties that really make the most of their settings.
What to do:
The hammam! Steam, soak, scrub, repeat a few times, and then drink plenty of herbal-infused tea to recover from all that relaxing. It is heavenly and a very Moroccan activity!
What to eat:
Pastilla, a hearty Moroccan baked filo dough pie sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon and filled with a combination of ground almonds, butter, orange blossom water, and your choice of seafood or chicken (brave eaters can try the Marrakech specialty: pigeon!).
For a truly amazing experience, we can arrange a private charter plane from Fes or Marrakech to the Sahara Desert for an overnight, complete with gnawa musicians and gourmet food.