Are you visiting Morocco in the coming days? To enjoy your trip to the full, find out about the best areas to stay in Marrakesh!
Marrakesh, nicknamed the “Red City”, is the fourth largest city in Morocco after Casablanca, Fez, and Tangier. With an area of 230 km² and nearly a million inhabitants, its size is comparable to that of the mediterranean city of Marseille. While Morocco attracted more than 10 million visitors in 2016, Marrakesh is the city most visited by French tourists. And for good reason: with sunny weather all year round, the city offers a breathtaking historical heritage, and boasts an incredibly rich culture. Discover the best places to stay in Marrakesh, this thousand-year-old city striking just the right balance between tradition and modernity, offering an eyeful of things to see and do.
Like all important cities of the Maghreb, Marrakesh has its old city – the Medina -, an absolute must-see area of the city. The new districts, including Guéliz, built under the French protectorate, are next door. L’Hivernage is the luxurious and ostentatious neighbourhood attracting the wealthy tourists. Whether you are on a quest for authenticity, or if you’re looking to experience an “exotic” change of scenery at the gateway of the Sahara, or live the western life in the city’s chic neighbourhoods, Marrakesh has it all. Hotels, youth hostel, studios, riads, apartments, villas, residences… finding accommodation in Marrakesh will not be difficult. Here is a non-exhaustive presentation of the best areas to stay in Marrakesh.
Photo credit: Flickr – Alain Stoll
An age-old city which will be soon millenary, the city of Marrakesh was founded in 1071 in the Medina, by the Berber Empire of Almoravides. The majority of monuments, museums, and accommodation establishments are concentrated in the Medina. While the Medina is the historical district of Marrakesh, it is also the most touristic. Due to important social gaps – sadly exacerbated by well-heeled tourists taking pictures of the much poorer local population – you will necessarily be accosted by some while you meander through the Medina (for a few dirhams obviously) or by others who will try to sell you countless items.
Though you may find this atmosphere to be slightly oppressive, you have to get used to it: this is Morocco. The Medina is a city within the city, an endless maze of alleys, small souks, small squares, dead ends, mosques, madrassa – a secular or religious school in Arabic – and riads: a labyrinth called “bazaar” in the West. Among the places to stay in Marrakesh, this neighbourhood allows you to be close to everything. Be warned though: you will certainly hear the call to prayer in the wee hours of the morning!
Photo credit: Flickr – Jori Avlis
Built by the French during the protectorate imposed by the French colonial empire in 1912, Guéliz is the modern western quarter of Marrakesh. More “progressive” than the other districts of the Medina, it is also less charming. The area is filled with numerous bars, restaurants, shops of famous brands, and hotels. So yes, you can we eat in a fast food in Morocco – though it would definitely be a shame given the wealth of local culinary specialties on offer… – before shopping in the major Western shops, and purchase cheap clothing items made in Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Don’t miss the colourful botanical garden and the Berber Museum. The district, populated by the Moroccan middle class, is more relaxed than the old city. If you are looking for a quiet stay in Marrakesh, book an apartment, hotel, or youth hostel in Guéliz.
Main photo credit : Flickr – Andrew Nash