Charlotte Rey’s Insider Guide To Marrakech
The Swedish-born co-founder of design studio Campbell-Rey shows us around her favourite haunts in Morocco’s Red City.
I first came to Marrakech with my family when I was very young, and I’ve been back every few years ever since. Now, my fiancé [Teddy Crow] has moved there to lead a major hotel project, so I’ll be spending my time half in London and half there — I’m very excited. I was there just a few weeks ago, when the borders had just reopened, and it was incredible.
Marrakech is wild and wonderful with a lot of contrasts; part of the city is medieval and it’s like stepping into a different time. Coming from Sweden, which is very orderly and pale in comparison, I instantly fell in love with it — it feels alive and exotic, full of scents and discoveries.
There’s also a real sense of craftsmanship, you’re surrounded by very beautiful things and the skills are remarkable. I am quite the foodie and I love coming here — the food is delicious, with lots of new restaurants opening. And the people are completely gorgeous — very open and ready to talk to you.
Places to stay
L’Hôtel is Jasper Conran’s lush riad, surrounded by a verdant garden and pool with 12 rooms. It’s one of the more expensive, but it’s gorgeous. If you are staying somewhere else you can still pop in for dinner — it’s incredibly atmospheric.
I also love Riad Mena, which is run by my friend Philomena Schurer Merckoll, a contributing editor at T magazine with incredible taste and the most stunning auburn hair. It feels like a private house, and you can buy bits you like, like pieces by local artist LRNCE, from her shop The Pink Door.
Things to do
Le Jardin Secret designed by Tom Stuart-Smith is beautiful for a walk. For galleries, the YSL Museum is an obvious one, but there’s also Art Fair 1-54, which is twice a year and super nice — they list many of the great galleries in the city.
The best hammam I’ve had in Marrakech is at Riad Tarabel. It’s by women, and it’s really hot — you do the full scrub and you come out newborn. It’s amazing.
Teddy and I love playing tennis at Atlas Tennis Club. It’s only a ten minute taxi, but you’re overlooked by the Atlas mountains. The courts are covered so you can play in the shade, which makes all the difference — and there’s also paddle tennis and a lap pool.
You can also play polo at the Marrakech Polo Club, which is 30 minutes outside of the city at the Ritz-Carlton Residences — they stand unfinished so it’s a polo club in the middle of the desert… It's really beautiful. The horses are great; you can do stick and ball for beginners, or chukkas if you’re more confident. You can also take some tea on the terrace overlooking the field. Book in advance.
What about breakfast
It’s quite a French breakfast culture. Cafe des Epices does the best Marrakshi pancakes with honey that you drink with sweet tea. It has a nice roof terrace and it’s just across the square from the NOMAD.
Where to eat
For a real gastronomic experience, Belgian Carlo Simons is offering a high concept dinner at Riad Dar Simons. He’s a genius, just 27-years-old and cooking like a Michelin star is about to fall into his lap. The tasting menu changes every day — we had seabass in honey, lemon and saffron sauce, cauliflower cooked in salty butter, and then crab with Parmesan. Scrumptious. There are also guest rooms he’s designed himself with mid-century Italian design pieces, which feel very fresh among all the zellige tiles.
For lunch, there’s La Famille, which is an incredible women’s collective and feels like a sister to Cotswolds’ the Straw Kitchen.
L’mida is also really nice for lunch and has an incredible rooftop, which was recently planted but when it blooms will be spectacular. NOMAD café is a great lunch and sunset spot where the view of the mountains is breathtaking.
Where to drink
Where to shop
There’s a new concept store called MORO, co-founded by Michelle Lamy, which offers quite a noir perspective on Moroccan products, including superb skincare.
Marrakshi Life is also cool for airier fashions. Walking around the souk is always incredible, it’s just impossible to explain where to go!
Outside the city
- The Levantine is in the Afagay desert, about an hour outside of Marrakech. It’s a big villa and feels like the Parker Palm Springs in the Moroccan desert. The gardens have been exquisitely planted, with the grass planted by hand. The owner Mahmoud and his wife Widad are generous hosts and plan to run it for large events as well as smaller groups.
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