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The magic of

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Marrakech BY KATHY CHURCHILL

Le Comptoir

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El Fenn (and above)

Vanilla August/September 2011

ARRAKECH HAS TO BE my ultimate destination for a long weekend. It has everything you could possibly need, style, luxury, sunshine and shopping and is perfect for either a little bit of romance, a fun weekend with friends or some glitz and glamour with the girls. Finding your riad is the first challenge as the medina is made up of a labyrinth of narrow streets with alleys and passageways leading off in all directions. I will never forget stepping through a small carved wooden door into a riad for the first time. The inner courtyard was an unexpected sanctuary of bougainvillea, rose strewn fountains, luxurious sofas and hidden corners. There is an enormous choice to suit every taste; the opulence and splendour of La Mamounia, bohemian Riad Kaiss, the intimacy of Riad Noga or the beauty and expanse of Jnane Tamsna. One of the best places to stay is the wonderfully elegant El Fenn, Vanessa Branson and Howell James’ chic riad, which epitomises Moroccan style and hospitality. With only 21 uniquelystyled suites, 3 swimming pools and its own hammam spa, this is a boutique hotel of unique quality. Every detail has been carefully considered and I cannot think of a better way to while away an afternoon than relaxing on the enormous roof terraces after a lazy lunch. Wandering the main square of Marrakech, Djemaa el Fna, your senses will be assailed by the bustle and intensity of the exotic food stalls, the bewitching snake charmers and tumbling August/September 2011 Vanilla

travel flame throwers. Then head into the souk, a treasure trove packed with presents for all the family, sparkling slippers, leather bags, bejewelled pouffes, silk scarves and decorative lanterns of every colour. Be careful how you chose but enjoy the fun of shopping here. More serious shoppers should take a trip to Aya’s in the old Jewish quarter. This Aladdin’s Cave has an amazing choice of beautiful kaftans and tunics in silk, linen and cashmere. Beldi and Kasbek also have lovely ranges and for leather bags try Place Vendome in the new town. Some of the hotels will arrange a personal shopper which is a great way to ensure you find exactly what you are looking for.

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fter all that shopping you will be in need of a hamman. This is a wonderfully relaxing experience where you are washed, steamed, exfoliated, buffed, massaged and finally oiled. Using traditional beauty methods it leaves you pink and glowing, wafting scents of orange blossom, rose and cedar wood. Just gorgeous! As the sun sets across the roof tops and they start the call for prayer you feel ready once again to take on the excitement of the streets below. For those looking for romance we’ll book you a candlelit table on the roof terrace of Le Foundouk or for a gastronomic delight Le Tobsil, where the dishes just keep on coming. If you’re after excitement head for Le Comptoir, where on Friday nights there is a buzzing party atmosphere and the belly dancers might just have you strutting your stuff – you have been warned! ■

Go Marrakech BEST FOR: An exotic weekend

away with partners, friends or just the girls. BE SEEN AT: Cocktail hour at

the hip Marjorelle Rooms at the acclaimed La Mamounia. DINE AT: Foundouk, a gorgeously stylishly converted riad in the medina. Ask for a candlelit table on the roof terrace so you can dine out under the stars. PARTY AT: El Comptoir, a must

for a Friday night where the party atmosphere kicks off and belly dancers take to the stage. SHOP AT: The souks in the

medina for bargains and bartering. Aya’s in the old Jewish quarter and Beldi, on rue Laksour for divine kaftans, silk tunics and urban jewellery. Kasbek on rue Riad Zitoun Jdid for vintage kaftans and slinky jersey ones. Place Vendome on rue de la Liberte in the new town for fabulous leather bags CONTACT: For more advice contact Holmes Travel e: martin@holmestravel.co.uk t: 01473 610666 w: www.holmestravel.co.uk

SPECIAL OFFER Holmes Travel are delighted to offer VANILLA readers the following exclusive deal: Book three nights for the price of two at the luxury boutique riad, El Fenn. Plus indulge yourself with a free Hamman/ Spa for two. Prices start from £240 per room per night. What are you waiting for!

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Vanilla Magazine - The Magic of Marrakech  

Is Marrakech the ultimate long weekend? Kathy Churchill gives her verdict.