Following a short three-and-a-half-hour flight, I wondered why this was my first time visiting this other-worldly country – home to an enticing new culture, climate and cuisine…
It’s not unusual for the senses to evoke emotionally charged memories – I was sure that my short-but-sweet taste of Morocco would be full of enriching experiences, but I didn’t anticipate that it would leave me with such special memories. The mesmerising sights, sounds, feelings, smells and flavours throughout, provided me with the ultimate sensory awakening.
We received a warm welcome at Inara Camp, where we were soon whisked away for a camel ride. We weren’t sure of the hurry until we realised it was perfectly timed to allow us to watch the spectacular sunset from the back of our friendly camels – what better place to watch the glowing sun disappear below the desert dunes?
We were then shown to our private corner of the Agafay Desert, complete with a beautifully adorned tent and lantern-lit seating area, as a live Gnaoa band serenaded us, before our dinner of local delicacies arrived. We were then led out to see the constellations in the clear night sky – something I have never witnessed and that is a near daily occurrence in these unpolluted skies.
After being surrounded by stall-side haggling and the sounds of the frequent call to prayer, it was a welcome relief to return to the oasis of a luxury hotel. To step into the grand entrance of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech and be greeted personally with your name is the warmest of welcomes.
This continues to the groundsman who invited us into the farm pen to feed the donkeys, the housekeeper who offered me a rose from the garden and the chef who came to my table to check my omelette was to my liking.
The stark contrast of the bustling city to the peace of a luxury hotel is something that must be embraced. For the ultimate Moroccan ritual, the Hammam is an ancient part of daily life in Morocco – I highly recommend a luxurious spa treatment for unrivalled rejuvenation. The spa at Mandarin Oriental Marrakech boasts spacious treatment rooms, each with their own steam shower and garden, making it the perfect place for the full Hammam spa experience – it’s guaranteed to leave your skin feeling completely refreshed.
As you enter the Medina, wandering the tangled streets and exploring the bustle of the souk, you are guaranteed to be delighted by the array of unique aromas diffusing from the various shops and market stalls. The fast-changing scents draw your attention to the freshest fruits, the richest spices and the sweetest teas – providing a fragrant journey of Marrakech’s finest produce.
Whether you brave the local delicacies straight from the market or commit to navigating the maze of streets to find a recommended restaurant, you are able to appreciate the wonderful combination of spices from your meal with your nose, before you even lift your fork.
The flavours of Morocco are so unique that you’re sure to return home with the intention of bringing a taste of Morocco to your kitchen. From authentic desert dining to award-winning gourmet cuisine, there is something for every palate.
Highly recommended, Ling Ling at Mandarin Oriental Marrakech is inspired by the eastern concept of Izakaya, where your meal accompanies your drinks, rather than the other way around. As expected with such a concept, the cocktail menu is extensive, taking advantage of the hotel’s own herb garden and local spices. Try the award-winning cocktail creation ‘Fleur de Vie’ (vodka, lychee, lemon and fennel) and the golden-fried chicken and mango salad with sweet chilli, which had us fighting for the final mouthful!