If it’s true that Marrakech is mostly known as a mecca for architects and interior design enthusiasts, then it’s time to discover Sidi Ghanem: an up and coming area in the industrial part of the city
Marrakech is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating cities in the world, notable for its stunning architecture, beautiful ancient palaces, as well as its charming character and wealth of entertaining activities.
From the best-known tourist sites to the newest attractions, Marrakech is a wonderful place with much to offer. One popular reason for visiting is to try the Marrakech shopping experience. The main square, Djemaa el Fna, is the centre of the action. An open–air theatre, where snake charmers, water sellers, palm readers and henna artists meet to dazzle and delight the hundreds of tourists that come here every day.
Just a few meters away you can reach the city’s souks, a maze of covered street markets, which are arguably the most iconic symbol of shopping in Marrakech. Before arriving, you might be well advised to brush up on your bargaining skills and be ready to haggle with some very persistent sellers on the price of every item you wish to buy.
Looking at some of the Riads here, which have undergone a great deal of restoration, it is easy to understand why the city has for a number of years become a mecca for interior designers and architects in search of inspiration.
In addition to the city’s usual shopping areas, such as the covered markets and Nouvelle Ville, the newest part of Marrakesh, a new shopping area is emerging in the north west of the capital, in the industrial district of Sidi Ghanem.
With a short taxi ride from the city centre you can reach the best design and furniture shops in town, all clustered along a single street. The shopping trail starts at Amira (277 Sidi Ghanem; www.amirabougies.com; +212 5 24 33 62 47), a candle lovers’ paradise at very affordable prices. Here you can find a vast selection of candles in all colours, shapes and sizes, including some giant floating ones that you cannot fail to miss.
Via Notti (278 /322, Sidi Ghanem; + 212 5 24 35 60 24) just next door, is the ideal place to find high quality bed linen made with Egyptian-Italian cotton, decorated in Morocco. Although a little on the expensive side, it is definitely worth a visit. A full set will cost between 2,000 and 3,000 dhs (£158-£238).
Just a few metres away is the lighting specialist, Peau D’Ane (297, Sidi Ghanem; +212 5 24 33 65 50). Here you can choose from an amazing selection of silver and other metallic designs in a myriad shapes and sizes.
Close by, on the same side of the road is La Boutique de L’Atelier (294, Sidi Ghanem; +212 5 24 35 62 06). There is no better place in Sidi Ghanem to find good quality design objects than this tiny shop. From stylish plates and trays to colourful aprons, lamps and even paintings - if you can’t make up your mind about what to buy, there are lots of staff at hand to offer some helpful advice.
If you are a genuine interior design lover looking for inspiration, the best option for accommodation in Marrakesh is Riad Al Massarah (26 Derb Djedid, Bab Doukkala). In high season, double rooms are 1,200 to 2,000 dhs (£96 -£160). Located in the heart of the Bab Doukkala area of the city, it is within easy reach of all the city’s main attractions.
True to its name, “Massarah”, meaning happiness, is the perfect place to relax.
The Franco-British owners of this stylish six-bedroom hotel, Michel Contreras and Michael Matthews, both experts on Marrakech, provide hospitality of the highest quality and are always at hand to offer the guests invaluable advice. Here, you can enjoy some wonderful meals, prepared by the in–house chef as well as having a heavenly bathing experience at the Hamman.