My private riad at the Hotel Selman. The best place I’ve stayed in for 2015. Tom Cruise stayed in this very same riad, when filming Mission Impossible 5.
I just love shopping in Morocco, especially as I feel like turning my house into some kind of Moroccan palace whenever I walk into a beautiful hotel or riad. If this is your type of design, the decors of some of Morocco’s famous hotels and restaurants are just so inspiring.
For design inspiration, I’d put the Selman and the Royal Mansour right at the top. These are two beautifully executed hotels, although slightly different in feel. I’ve stayed in both and loved them both, although they’re impossible to compare side by side.
Both hotels are beautiful jewels, and it’s a matter of preference. Read more about the Royal Mansour in the new issue of Travelife Magazine, out this week in all the bookstores.
DINNER AT LA MAMMOUNIA.
AND A CASE OF DEJA VU.
I also stayed at the historic La Mammounia on my very first visit to Morocco about 15 years ago, but I haven’t returned to check in since its renovation, although I’ve had dinner twice by now in the hotel’s Italian restaurant, interestingly, in the very same table — which provided for an unnerving case of deja vu.
I also love the smaller riad hotels for inspiration.
The Villa des Orangers, where we stayed in the lovely presidential suite on holiday last June, is a completely different style but so beautiful just the same. This is a photographer’s dream of a hotel, with vintage pieces everywhere.
That’s all of us with Felix, the super nice General Manager of the Four Seasons Marrakech
The Four Seasons Marrakech is also lovely in a very contemporary way that can’t help but make you feel utterly relaxed. Read more about the Villa des Orangers and the Four Seasons Marrakech in the new issue of Travelife Magazine, out this week in all the bookstores.
SHOPPING IN MOROCCO
So in an attempt to make my own little version of paradise in one of my homes, I’ve been buying bits and pieces of Moroccan design although frankly none of it is a piece that would break the bank.
However I’ve chosen each item with care and loved it for the memories of the trips I associate with them.
COMPLETING A SET OF TAGINE
One thing I’ve tried to complete slowly on each trip is a set of intricately handcrafted tagine and serving plates for entertaining.
I’ve only bought one or two from an artisan workshop in Fes each time I visit, as they’re incredibly heavy, and the other night I realised that I still have a bit of a way to go to complete my set.
However on this trip, I bought two and someone was kind enough to bring these home for me, leaving me with enough space for everything else I bought. I was completely overweight on the return to Asia.
MIRRORS FOR THE SOUL
This time around, I also picked up some handcrafted mirrors for my walls.
I have two small mirrors which I can’t wait to put up, and one giant one I picked up on a whim without even thinking how I was going to bring it home or where I would put it. I chucked the small mirrors into my luggage and then checked in the large one at Casablanca airport and this tipped the scale way too much as it’s really large.
So I was actually charged overweight for the first time in my Travelife.
AND EXTRA LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE
As I’ve said, nothing I bought will seriously break the bank so it seemed ridiculous to pay the 400 euros they were charging me for checking in a relatively inexpensive mirror bought on a whim on one of those last-minute shopping binges when we had 30 minutes to walk through an arcade of artisanal shops in Marrakech on the last day.
Fortunately Mr Y was checking in at the same time on another airline to another city just next to me. He hadn’t done any shopping so his luggage was free and easy.
So without even asking his permission, I asked the porter to haul the mirror over to his business class counter to check it in there instead. I knew he had extra luggage space as he’d bought nothing at all, so I gave him the mirror and said: “Please bring this with you. I’ll find a way to get this back sometime.”
THE TRADITIONAL MOROCCAN DRESS
I also loved the djellabas, which are the traditional Moroccan dress.
They’re warmer and less flashy than caftans, and I bought three at the souk in Fes on a walk around with my dear friend M, and at a boutique in Marrakech.
And since I bought these, I practically lived in them for the rest of the trip because they were so comfortable. Now I’m starting to pack for a quick holiday in Istanbul in a few weeks’ time, two trips away, and I realise my djellabas will be perfect for Istanbul in autumn.
THE NEXT BIG BEAUTY OIL:
PRICKLY PEAR SEED OIL
The other thing I went slightly overboard on was oil made from the seed of the prickly pear. Everyone’s so into argan oil, but the next new thing in Moroccan beauty rituals is the rare and way more expensive oil from the seed of the prickly pear — not just from the prickly pear itself.
It’s about four time the price of argan oil and way harder to find, so I bought everything I could find when I found it, as I tried one flask of this precious oil and just loved it.
MY FAVORITE GOLDEN TRAYS
Finally, in Rabat where the souk is more full of traditional crafts but way cheaper than the souks in the other cities, I picked up a couple of trays I’ve been meaning to get to place on little tables.
These went for a song so I was very happy, and I’ve made up my mind to get a few more the next time I find myself in Rabat, hopefully sooner rather than later, in my never-ending #Travelife.