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LUXURY TRAVEL: Marrakech, Morocco

PURE Life Experiences, the exciting experiential travel show, starts in Marrakech today (November 12). The event, established by the dynamic Serge Dive and Sarah Ball, was the first show which recognised the need for a global market place catering only towards high-end Experiential Travel specialists. Now in its fourth edition, this year's guest list is a who's who in luxury travel; one of whom is The Travel Curator's founder Melanie Brandman, who is also the legendary CEO of high end travel PR agency The Brandman Agency. Here Melanie lists her favourite places in Marrakech for the benefit of PURE guests and The Luxury Travel Bible readers.

Where to eat and drink
EatPlayShopDar Yacout
This chic landmark restaurant is one of my favourites -- a must for both first-time and repeat visitors to Marrakech. Albeit a bit over the top, the restaurant is high on design and has been the inspiration for Moroccan interiors since it opened 20 years ago. Housed in a gorgeous riad in the Medina, it's a bit of a rabbit warren trying to find it (have a guide help you), but well worth the effort. It features beautiful rooms upon beautiful room, and the main dining room is straight from a film set. Don't miss the rooftop terrace for stellar views over the medina. The cuisine is traditional Moroccan and reservations are a must.

Address: 79 Derb Sidi Ahmed Soussi. Tel: 00 212 44 38 29 29

Al Fassia
Located in the popular Gueliz neighbourhood (see Shopping), this is considered a Marrakech classic, as much for its authentic dishes as for the fact that it's managed exclusively by women, evoking a home-grown, family-run vibe. Over its 20 years of operation, Al Fassia is celebrated for its superb cuisine -- everyone raves about the pigeon, but make sure you leave room for dessert. Unlike most Moroccan restaurants, the portion sizes are not overwhelming; you can order as little or as much as you like.
Address: 55 Boulevard Zerktouni, Gueliz Tel: 00 212 24 43 40 60   Web: www.alfassia.com

La Terrasse des Épices

This is one of my favourite restaurants in the medina and a perfect spot to perch after shopping in the souk. The rooftop terrace is the place to be and it's easy to settle in after a light and delicious lunch. This accessible restaurant offers a good range of dishes, from the traditional Moroccan salad, a selection of grills and pasta to a tempting array of desserts. In the evening, the glow from low-hung lights makes it a great place to relax for a casual dinner.

Address: 15 Souk Charifia, Sidi Abdellaziz, Medina. Tel: 00 212 524 37 59   Web: www.terrassedesepices.com

Le Tobsil

Considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Marrakech -- not to mention one of the most popular -- Le Tobsil is regarded as a more intimate version of Dar Yacout. Its allure stems from its traditional architecture, candlelit arches and the richness of its Persian rugs. Located in the medina, this beautifully renovated former mansion offers a daily prix fixe of Moroccan dishes using the freshest market produce. Favourites include the couscous and tagine selections. Fantastic restaurant for vegetarians, in particular -- it's easy to get full on Le Tobsil's vegetable meze dishes alone.

Address: 22 Derb Moulay Abdellah Ben Hassaien, R'mila Bab Ksour, Medina Tel: 00 212 5 24 44 40 52


Le Grand Café de la Poste

This former 1920s post office is now a popular brasserie attracting local tastemakers and jetsetters. It's been restored to its colonial glory (think rattan, palm trees and ceiling fans), giving it a laid-back and friendly vibe. A great place for all-day dining, it's easy to relax here -- I'm a big fan of their pre-and post-dinner cocktails, especially. The food is surprisingly good: traditional French brasserie fare, with a Moroccan twist.

Address: Corner of bd. El Mansour Eddahbi and av. Imam Malik, Gueliz. Tel: 00 212 5 24 43 30 Web: www.grandcafede laposte.com


My favourite chic watering hole in Marrakech -- fantastic atmosphere and international scene, on full display in the breath-taking outdoor terrace. I'm a big fan of the eclectic music here, spanning everything from Billie Holiday to the latest Euro DJ outfit. On top of it all, the delicious cocktails make the whole experience go down easy -- just let the bartender know what your preferred poison is so they can fix you up with something special. (For me, that always involves champagne.) The small plates are also worth a nibble, especially the Mechoui lamb.

Address: Douar Lahna, Route de l'Ourika, 40 00 0 Tel: 00 212 5243 88012 Web: www.bo-zin.com


Located in Marrakech's always-buzzy Hivernage district, the Palais is a great choice for a splashy night out on the town. As the regal name might indicate, it's quite a festive place -- a mix between Morocco and Mumbai. I prefer to meet with friends at the lounge and enjoy a drink over live music before heading onward to a fabulous restaurant -- although you can get good bites here, too, namely the curries and chicken tagine. Don't miss one of the nightly dance performances: over-the-top in the best possible way.

Address: 10 Rue Houroune Errachid, Hivernage Tel: 00 212 5 24 43 69 84 Web: www.jad-mahal.com


I love the pop-art design of this sleek lounge-club, also in the Hivernage area. For a nightlife establishment, it's more on the quieter, happy hour side -- good for bonding over cocktails and small bites in the French Moroccan vein (for the perennial sweet tooth in me, the spicy chocolate Tarbouche cake is a must). I love the flattering purple-pink lighting and very cool Oriental pop art on the walls. Djellabar provides the signature Marrakech stimulation without being too overwhelming.

Address: Villa Bougaivillee, 2 Rue Abou Hanifa, Hivernage Tel: 00 212 5 24 42 12 42 Web: www.djellabar.com


The vision of proprietor Marcel Chiche, Paris nightlife legend. This restaurant-club blends Eastern and Western influences seamlessly. This is a definite "paint the town red" kind of establishment -- and everything in here, from the décor to the lighting, is literally red. A good mix of international travellers, discerning locals and the usual business folks. The bar is always good for a strong cocktail or occasional belly dancing performance. Definitely for those seeking a vibrant nightlife experience in Marrakech, although the staff is always personable.

Address: Avenue Echoulada Tel: 00 0524 437 702 Web: www.comptoirmarrakech.com


This place is very popular with the locals, which is always a good sign. The décor at Lotus is endlessly entertaining -- lots of great art and installations throughout the space, very Andy Warhol. I like that this very stylish club is a bit out of the way; it gives it a hidden gem feel, and the warm staff -- from the gorgeous waitresses (all of whom speak several languages) and in-the-know bartenders -- makes everyone feel like a VIP. The playlist here is very fun -- contemporary hits mixed in with oldies and even some very intriguing world music selections. I can't say I've ever had an off night here.

Address: Rue Ahmed Chaouqi, Hivernage  Tel: 00 212 5 24 42 17 36 W eb: www.riadlotus.com


I love the pop-art design of this sleek lounge-club, also in the Hivernage area. For a nightlife establishment, it's more on the quieter, happy hour side -- good for bonding over cocktails and small bites in the French Moroccan vein (for the perennial sweet tooth in me, the spicy chocolate Tarbouche cake is a must). I love the flattering purple-pink lighting and very cool Oriental pop art on the walls. Djellabar provides the signature Marrakech stimulation without being too overwhelming.

Address: 34 Rue de la Liberté, Guéliz 

Where to shop

Scènes de Lin

Also on Rue de Liberté is this super stylish home furnishings store -- one of my favourites. I have stocked up on their exquisite lines and beautifully stitched bed and table linens, sold by the yard. Add gorgeous leather desks and writing accessories to the mix and you have a chic, discerning home-office at the ready!

Address: 34 Rue de la Liberté, Guéliz Website: www.scenesdelin.com

33 Rue Majorelle

Located in another up and coming shopping area in front of the entrance to the famous Jardin Majorelle is this terrific concept store. I'm always impressed by its great selection of fashion and design pieces from Moroccan designers, including my favourite Noureddine Amir. When your shopping is done -- or even before it starts -- have a freshly-pressed orange juice at the little café on the corner of this design block.   

Address: Rue Yves Saint-Laurent Web: www.33ruemajorelle.com

Galerie Birkemeyer

Now with two stores -- one in the popular Guéliz neighborhood and another across from Jardin Majorelle-- it's hard not to drop in and drool over the fantastic selection of designer-inspired handbags and leather jackets. If they don't have want you want, they will always make it to order and ship anywhere in the world. Convenient luxury.

Address: 169-171, Rue Mohamed El Beqal Web: www.galerie-birkemeyer.com

Atelier Moro

One of my best finds in the Medina is Atelier Moro, owned by Colombian-born designer Viviana González. Fantastic for picking up chic and functional gifts to take home, the shop has an eclectic mix of locally made accessories such as pictures frames, embroidered cotton caftans and furniture. I particularly love the striped silver coffee spoons.

Address: 114 Place de laFontaine, Medina

One of the best known names in the business, Australian Melanie Brandman (now based in New York ) is on the road internationally on average anywhere between 10 and 14 days a month. Along the way her practised eye sees the very best the world has to offer.   The Travel Curator is Brandman's latest venture, a luxury website offering readers an expert's opinion on the world's most inspiring destinations. www.thetravelcurator.com

PURE is now considered a 'must attend' event in the yearly luxury travel calendar. This year PURE runs from 12-15 November   welcoming over 430 experience suppliers and 460 Private Travel Designers to the Red City of Marrakech in 2012.   With inspirational speakers such as Sir Ralph Fiennes, Tony Smit, and Alan MorganWe thank our friends at PURE for sharing this article with us.www.purelifeexperiences.com

Melanie Brandman 12/11/12

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