A Foodie's Marrakech: Marrakech's 10 Best Hotels for Foodies
Mysterious and welcoming, Marrakech has been a medina town for as long as it can remember. A place desert caravans converged upon, bringing in wonders from all over Morocco and the world beyond. The flavours of the spices, and recipes, brought in off the desert, are one kind of wonder, and one of the reasons Marrakech is considered a heaven for foodies. So for those of you here to eat, here are some recommendations for Marrakech's 10 best hotels for foodies - either because of their restaurant's reputation, the renown of their chef or cooking school, or just 'cause they're close to some of the best foodie haunts in town.
Marrakech has no shortage of choice when it comes to eating, with everything from street food to sumptuous feasts. The very best meal you have here may not be from a world renowned tasting menu or even a perfectly tender teyhan (spleen) kebab in the medina, but something home cooked served on the rooftop of your riad. Which ever of our foodie favourites you choose, it's worth giving the staff plenty of notice about any dietary requirements, as they'll more than likely tailor a menu to your needs.
Wherever you're dining the traditional way to enjoy your food is with your bare right hand - use breads to scoop - and plenty of gusto!
The frenetic streets and alleyways leading towards Djemaa el-Fna Square are filled with people finishing long journeys - some load off buses, some have carts. Tuareg, Berbers and other tribesmen come in off the Sahara to trade amongst mysterious herbs drying in the sun, heaped piles of colourful spices and air thick with the smell and smoke of cooking. Mmmmmm. Which is why the area around the medina is perhaps the perfect destination for foodies.
Part of the experience is the atmosphere. This isn't street food for the sake of being a hipster, this is street food because of necessity, and in amongst the goggle-eyed visitors you'll find workers and locals finding lunch or supper just the way they always have.
The medina is rife with new experiences for the adventurous: sheep's brains - or a whole sheep's head even, sheep's intestines, grilled sheep's hearts, stuffed camel's spleen and loads of snails. That'll be the French influence, but here it's common for snails to be served in a broth.
If you're not feeling that adventurous there are plenty of sausage dishes, fish, familiar kebabs, tagines and veggie dishes. You'll also find stalls specialising in egg sandwiches, and then the sweet stalls with their cakes, dates and juices.
Eating from the busiest stalls usually means you get the freshest ingredients and cleanest cooking oils. And it's recommended you bring your own water bottle and eat with your hands to avoid hastily washed utensils. It's also worth saying that there are only a few licensed restaurants in the medina.
If you venture into the medina and start to feel a bit lost, pop into a store to ask for directions, then you're most likely to get the free, unaccompanied version of the answer - if that's what you're looking for! It's also a good idea to look up - minarets and distinctive mosque roofs make great points to get your bearings from.
The New Town
The Ville Nouvelle - New Town, just west of the medina is arranged in a much more orderly way, with modern roads and street signs. The Gueliz area, with its numerous busy bars and restaurants, is a good area to head for - you're bound to find something tasty there. There are more licensed restaurants in this area. And if for you the wine accompanying the meal is important, this is the place to go for a decent wine list.
Best Places to Learn to Cook in Marrakech
If the idea of getting lost in the muddle of 43 districts which makes up the labyrinthine medina doesn't particularly appeal then maybe it's a good idea to get a guide. And there are numerous options if you're looking for foodie guides - in fact some of the cooking schools will lead you on forays into the medina, showing you the wheres and wherefores. This is also a great way to build up the confidence to try some of those more exotic sounding specialities…
Many of the best places to stay in Marrakech for foodies actually offer cooking classes on their own premises. And this is a great, low risk and comfortable way to taste the flavours of Marrakech.
While tasting Marrakech it's worth remembering that this town has some wonderful one-dish meals - perfect for your travelling trader on the move, just come in off the High Atlas passes. Try bisarra, a hearty, white bean soup, or tangia, slow cooked lamb shoulder. If you're here to eat, then it's also a good idea to head out into the desert to try a Berber lunch - tours usually leave out of Imlil.
Marrakech's 10 Best Hotels for Foodies
The Best Foodie Hotels in Marrakech's Medina
- Founded in the 40s, in its heyday La Maison Arabe was the most talked about restaurant in Marrakech - and then in 1997 it was turned into a luxury hotel. The atmosphere of lanterns and classical music sets the mood perfectly, but it's the menu you'll fall in love with - with plenty of traditional options including some of the heartiest tagines in town. These days there are two restaurants and a cooking school.
The Best Riads for Foodies in Marrakech
- Riyad Al Moussika is the one to book if you want a traditional style riad. There are only six classically designed rooms, looking out onto the beautiful swimming pool and gardens in the central courtyard. It's hard to believe this haven of culinary tranquility is right by the centre of town!
The Best Hotel Cooking Classes in Marrakech
- Consistently ranked amongst the best cooking shcools in Morocco (not to mention the rest of the world) Dar Les Cigognes is definitely one of the top hotels in Marrakech for foodies wanting to hone their skills. The fusion of the decor and food is the same: Moroccan and European - though in the case of the food it edges more towards the Mediterranean. Which is proving to be a winning combination.
- Excellent value and a great destination for those who'd like to learn the ins and outs of Moroccan cuisine is the Riad Dar Zaman. Chef Karima will take you to the souk, help you pick your ingredients, then teach you how to cook them.
- The Riyad el Cadi is good for foodie families. As well as offering cooking classes that welcome folks of all ages - specialising in tagines - this elegant riad has several large suites and family rooms. But it's still very beautiful and not at all 'dumbed-down' for kids.
The Best Foodie Hotels on the outskirts of Marrakech
- Foodies looking for romance should book the Jardins d'Issil. A collection of 15 caïdal tents, which are like mini marquees, is set up around a large central pool. You can also sup around the pool, under awnings, or go for something more formal in the restaurant.
- Small and luxurious, Dar Zemora has a country house hotel feel about it, set as it is amongst olives, palms and citrus fruit trees. Giant bathtubs welcome you after a long, hot day in the market, before you relax with a chilled glass of wine before enjoying a fine meal - that's what you call a holiday!
- Come to Dar Ayniwen if you want to eat well and relax. This gorgeous haven is just a short drive from the centre of town, but within its five acres of green gardens it feels like your own oasis of green calm. They also offer free cooking classes to hotel guests.
Nothing amongst our recommendations Marrakech's 10 Best Hotels for Foodies that tickles your taste buds? You might want to:
- Expand your search to include all the best places to stay in Marrakech?
- Or refine your search to the best hotels in the Palmeraie? or to Marrakech's Best Medina Hotels?
- Or you might want to consider our Guru's recommendations for 20 of the Best Riads in Marrakech? or 15 of the Best Boutique Hotels in Marrakech? or 10 of Marrakech's Best Hammams and Spas?
- Or you could contact one of our friendly Gurus for personalised advice.
Marrakech's 10 Best Hotels for Foodies
La Maison Arabe Marrakech (Bab Doukkala) 26 rooms from £180LuxuryRestaurant - Recommended.Local markets - Ten minutes from Jamaâ El Fna Squarem, with plenty of smaller souks nearby.Great walks - Head out to Majorelle Gardens for a peaceful stroll.
Jardins d'Issil Marrakech (Sidi Abdallah Ghiat) 17 rooms from £69Exclusive offer - B&B specialRomantic Break - Romantic Moroccan style tents in a poolside paradise - the perfect romantic retreatSwimming Pool - Large outdoor poolOpulentDesigner - Uniquely designed interiors.
Dar Les Cigognes Marrakech Medina 11 rooms from £143City Style - Magical rooms in a stylish Riad, with award winning restaurant and extensive spa services- all in the center of Marrakech!ElegantCooking classes - Learn to cook traditional Moroccan food with the school that was voted Best Moroccan Cooking School in the world.Local markets - Less than a ten minute walk away you'll find Jamaâ El Fna Square, the main market in MarrakechRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
Riad Dar Zaman Marrakech (Sidi Ben Slimane) 4 rooms from £69Groups - Take over the whole riad for a stay to remember!Views - Fantastic views over the medina and to the Atlas Mountains in the distance from the roof terrace.Cooking classes - Scour the souks for ingredients, then return to the Riad to learn how to cook them.Restrictions on children - No children under 12 unless you take over the whole propertyRecommended by - I Escape
Charming four roomed riad situated in the heart of the medina. Traditionally decorated rooms feature berber rugs and original hand-crafted pieces. Delicious Moroccan cuisine and cooking classes available too. Beautiful sun terrace with views to the mountains. An excellent value chic retreat. See More
Riyad Al Moussika Marrakech (Kennaria) 5 rooms from £200Great walks - Explore The Medina's famously rabbit warren-esq streets, be sure to bring a hotel card as getting lost is all part of it!Local markets - Just five minutes from Jamâa El Fna Sqaure where you can find killer bargains, or simply observe the hustle and bustle.Sights nearby - Explore the magnificent Bahia Palace and Gardens, orginally built by a slave who rose to be grand vizier.Swimming Pool - Courtyard poolRecommended by - Tablet
Opulence and gastronomy come together in this impressive restaurant guesthouse, once one of the residences of Lord of the Atlas, with five remarkable rooms. For couples and solo travellers who want to experience a slice of historical splendour in the middle of the medina. See More
Riyad el Cadi Marrakech (Dabachi) 15 rooms from £125City Style - Five stunning 14th-century Riads, with enchanting interiors, cool leafy courtyard and tented roofterrace, right in the Medina.Local exploring - Just around the corner from the all-singing, all-dancing, fire-eating, snake-charming, food-vending madness of Djemaa el-Fna.Artworks - Lofty architecture, museum-worthy textiles, historic objects d’art and original frescoed featuresLocal markets - Explore the wonderful and wild souks haggle over an array of textiles, carpets, leatherwork, spices and jewellery.Recommended by - I Escape
Dar Zemora Marrakech 6 rooms from £195Country Escape - A totally tranquil property near the bustling city of Marrakesh making it the ideal place to relax after a days explorationRomantic Break - A romantic haven, with lavish fourposter beds, incredible six-course dinners and lush gardens for strolling hand in hand.Swimming Pool - Two outdoor poolsFull of characterRecommended by - I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith
Dar Ayniwen Palmeraie de Marrakech 8 rooms from £174Cooking classes - Free cookery classes for hotel guests!Romantic - Good for couples.SpaSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor