How to travel in style in Morocco
We found the lovely Bianca Capstick, style and travel blogger, in the gardens of the exquisite Jnane Tamsna during one of her visits to Marrakech. She agreed to share her top tips and thoughts on Morocco with us. Enjoy!
1. Who is Bianca Wildflower?
By day, the Press Manager for Food, Wine and Hospitality at international, luxury retailer, Harvey Nichols; and in my spare time a food, travel and style blogger on a mission to secure as many passport stamps as the working week will allow.
My wanderlust has taken me across Europe, South East Asia, North America and North Africa, with Marrakech tattooed on my heart.
2. Why did you choose to come to Morocco?
Morocco has remained my favourite place to visit since I first came here in 2006. Marrakech, in particular, is a real melting pot taking you from enchanted Arabian nights and fervent life in the Medina through to the tranquil and serene oasis of the Palmeraie
The country seems to straddle a million different worlds from the well-trodden paths through the bustling souks, dusty deserts and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and the breezy, tranquil beaches; once known and loved by the likes of Jimi Hendrix.
Marrakech is a unique destination where you can go from the sumptuous luxury of a poolside Berber, under the blazing hot sun; to a seemingly medieval dusty din within moments.
By day you’ll find yourself rubbing shoulders with snake-charmers, haggling for silver wear and Berber carpets; by dusk you’ll sip Casablanca beers from a roof terrace and watch the sun go down over the Ketoubia mosque and by night you’ll dine alongside belly dancers in a forbidden, hidden North African palace
Morocco marks the junction between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and where East meets West; testing and rewarding the senses.
3. What are your top five tips of things to do in Marrakech?
– It may sound a cliché, but really take time to explore and haggle your way through the souks: On my last trip my boyfriend and I had a lot of fun collecting camel bone and silver treasure boxes and trinkets for out apartment and I picked up a couple of pairs of traditional carpet and leather boots which I always receive compliments on. It’s important to support and celebrate local craftsmanship and traditions, so go with a relaxed approach and be playful. The stall owners expect to haggle and it can be fun when done correctly.
– Eat at a stall in the night-market, and linger into the evening. Again, it may sound like a cliché but the old Medina of Marrakech shines as even more brightly at night fall. Again, don’t rush. Meander through the street food stalls and find your dining spot for the evening. Chicken or Pigeon Pastilla (a traditional Moroccan pie combining the sweet and the salty with crisp layers of pastry filled with slow-cooked shredded meat and dusted with sugar, ground almond and cinnamon) is my favourite thing to eat in the Red City; and although it’s good everywhere – it doesn’t come better than in the night market.
– Take respite in a rooftop pool. Marrakech is an attack on the senses and while it’s the Medina is a magical place, breaks from the madness are needed. Jardin de le Ketoubia hotel has a beautiful roof top pool, perfect for relaxing, sipping cocktails and gazing over the famous mosque. Or for a real oasis, take a trip to luxury boutique hotel, Jnane Tamsna and languidly lie next to one of five aqua blue pools, under a canopy of date palms and sunshine.
– Go for a massage and Hammam. There are plenty of local places to go for a massage and pampering is something Marrakesh does very well. The hammam, or Turkish bath, is something most locals indulge in at least weekly. I really treated myself to a sumptuous full body massage at The Royal Mansour hotel on my last trip, coated in the country’s traditional Argan oil and kneading out every knot, there is nothing that will leave you more relaxed
– Visit the Jardin Marjorelle: Although dubbed the Red City, Marrakech is a vibrant city of many colours which benefits from French influence and Moorish design. No place is this aesthetic more apparent than in the 2.5 acre nirvana which took artist Jacques Majorelle forty years of passion and dedication to create. Leave the madness of the Medina behind you and amble along shady lanes, in the midst of towering palm trees and cacti, past refreshing, burbling streams and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers
4. As a fashionista, what five items of clothing are a must have for a visit to Marrakech?
Morocco is a conservative nation with 99% of its population identifying as Muslims. Therefore, the first rule to dressing in Morocco is to respect Islam’s emphasis on modesty.
The city has a very bohemian feel to it though so carry this style through in what you wear, cover your shoulders and knees and you’ll be fine. I pack the following as a rule of thumb:
– Crochet midi and maxi dress: Imagine Jimi Hendrix and the late 60s / early 70s for inspiration and you’ll look stylish, boho and modestly dressed
– Team your crochet dresses with stylish and comfortable sandals: I love the selection from La Paire which are chic and practical, taking you from souk to seaside
– A kaftan: Again thinking about your modesty and 60s/70s luxe. The layers will take you to early evening which can get a little breezy, and will ensure you don’t attract the wrong kind of attention
– A good, vintage leather backpack like those by Scaramanga: Although Moroccans are hospitable, there are always thieves in the market so have a sturdy bag that no one can swipe. Reclaimed leather will add to your overall luxey-summer-of-love look
– Comfortable cotton or linen trousers. Light, airy, stylish and respectful to the culture. Easy to wear and easy to pack
5. What inspired you stylistically in Morocco?
There is style inspiration everywhere you turn in Morocco!
I love the unique aesthetic of the Arabian, influenced by France. Every doorway, every stall, every piece of architecture inspires creativity.
6. Marrakech is a shopper’s paradise: favourite things to buy?
As mentioned, I will never bore of buying pairs of the traditional leather and Berber style rug, Bohemian boots found in the souks of Marrakech and Essaouria. These boots are robust so they’re perfect in the winter months, as well as eye-catching with a summer dress or at a festival. They tell a story too; not just of my travels, but of Morocco’s rich history and craftsmanship.
7. Can you sum Marrakech up in one sentence?
Marrakech is a uniquely charming hybrid of the traditional and the luxury and the tranquil and the chaotic; a totally addictive and enchanted Arabian home from home.
Thanks to Bianca for these insights into Marrakech. Please check out her blog for more.