Archive for the ‘Guides’ Category
Posted on January 7, 2013 by James Robbins
April in Marrakech builds on the promising start to spring made by March. Flowers are in full bloom, the temperature is really beginning to warm up, and the grounds of Tigmi always seem on their best behaviour for the influx of guests.
It’s no surprise, then, that April is one of the most popular months at Tigmi. And I really enjoy the atmosphere around the hotel as guests arrive with optimism after a cold and dark winter.
Posted on January 2, 2013 by James Robbins
Spring is my favourite time of the year in Marrakech. The Tigmi gardens start to bloom, bursting with colours and aromas that rejuvenate the senses after the quieter months of January and February.
It’s not just at Tigmi. As you make your way into the city, you’ll see lots of flowers climbing the walls of local houses. And the sun sits slightly higher in the sky, turning up the brightness on Marrakech.
Posted on November 11, 2012 by James Robbins
Happy New Year!
If you’re in need of a break after a hectic Christmas period, and fancy doing something a little out of the ordinary, then why not consider a skiing holiday in Africa?
[Photo by Simon White on Flickr]
We agree, it does sound odd. Snow isn’t the first thing you’d associate with Africa. But perhaps that’s part of the charm of hitting the piste in Morocco – it’s a great story to tell friends and family on your return.
Posted on November 3, 2012 by Arabella Robbins
Marrakech will certainly awaken all your senses. The city swells with people throughout the day, the traffic seems permanently chaotic, and the confidence of the local salespeople is completely unshakeable.
You may find it overwhelming. But perhaps that’s the point of travel – after all, nobody wants to holiday in a different continent and culture only to be underwhelmed.
The problem with feeling overwhelmed is that it can also make you feel unsafe. And we don’t want that. So we’ve put together a guide to allay any concerns you may have about visiting The Red City.
Pack it up
Buy or bring a secure bag or rucksack – one that isn’t easy for wandering hands to enter. It’ll be useful for keeping for shopping in, carrying a bottle of water, and keeping your camera safe.
Beat the heat
Marrakech can become uncomfortably hot due to the lack of breeze and the heat island effect. Keep your energy levels up by drinking plenty of water and eating regularly.
Before you head to the city, have a good idea of how you’ll make the most of Marrakech. Without a plan, you’re an easy target for the local guides or, worse, wannabe guides – especially if you’re idly walking around and holding up a map. If you do take advice from them make sure you are firm and let them know exactly where you want to go. Leave the route to their discretion and you’ll more than likely end up in their uncle’s shop or having mint tea with their second cousin twice removed.
Learn to say no
Give a firm “la” to anyone that is trying to take advantage of you. It means “no”. And if that doesn’t work, a mention of the “police” should see them back down. Basic, perhaps, but these people don’t want to be trouble with the law, they just want to sell you something.
Beware of pickpockets. They’re not who you may think they are. Yes, little children and other people always seem a little too close for comfort, but the one to watch are the old ladies begging in the souk. They look harmless but some of them would give the Artful Dodger a run for his money.
Manners cost nothing
Moroccans are lovely people and very helpful – but they are tough people, too. Don’t be rude or do anything to antagonise them; what you may see as a joke or banter during a haggle over price may not be taken in the right context.
Take the ‘any city’ test
Bring some of the sense with you – would you walk down a dark alley at 11pm in any city? Probably not, so best not to take the risk in Marrakech. Sadly, you’ll find bad people in cities around the world – Marrakech is no exception.
Ask the police
There are lots of police around Marrakech, and they are so helpful. Never feel threatened by them; they are there to make your trip to Marrakech as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Don’t be afraid to call it a day
If you’re feeling flustered, frustrated, or plain lost, don’t be afraid to jump on the next minibus back to Tigmi, and return to Marrakech another day when you’re armed with a better idea of where to go and what to do.
Posted on October 28, 2012 by James Robbins
There are many ways and means to see Morocco, but today’s method was on horseback.
I awoke reasonably early and met Charlotte, Ben and Louisa in the hotel gardens. Charlotte and Louisa had been horse riding many times before – although not in Morocco – yet Ben and I were very much novices (but no less excited).
The four of us took a 15–20 minute drive down to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, stopping at a beautiful spot surrounded by lake Lalla Takerkoust. There we met Hassan and his team, our tour guides for the day and owners of many handsome and healthy steeds. They greeted us with a traditional Moroccan mint tea and then asked us about our horse riding ability.
Charlotte and Louisa explained that they’d ridden many times previously and were soon high above us on good looking horses. Ben and I were allocated two equally handsome horses who wouldn’t be flustered in our inexperienced hands. Hassan and his team did a great job of making us all feel welcome and safe.
Mounted and ready, we set off through the smaller hills of Morocco’s High Atlas. Charlotte was off and away in full chase of tour guide Hassan, with the rest of us trotting comfortably behind. Ben and I were accompanied on foot by one of Hassan’s team who was making sure we were comfortable and that our horses were calm.
The Moroccan terrain was fascinating; we were riding along dried up river beds, through harvested fields, down beaten tracks away from all communities. But just as you thought we were miles away from everything, a head would pop up from a rock or from behind a tree – a shepherd with his flock of sheep and goats graving on the hill side.
After riding for about two hours we stopped on the top of a hill for refreshments. Our stop also gave us time to take some mid-trek photos of our horses and the amazing views of lake Lalla Takerkoust below.
One hour later we were back at camp saying farewell to our horses, who all deserved a good rest. Hassan and his team gave us some more of their mint tea – which this time was sweetened. Clearly Hassan had one look at Ben and I realised that we were shattered from this amazing experience!
I’ll certainly go horse riding in Marrakech again – it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in Morocco.
Posted on November 29, 2011 by James Robbins
One of the most wonderful things about Morocco is the culinary experience. And the range of restaurants in Marrakech covers all budgets and appetites – whether your taste buds crave traditional Moroccan flavours or something a little more familiar.
And it’s not just about the food – there are many experiences to be had in Marrakech: You may be looking for a casual night in the square, a romantic evening for two, an authentic of Moroccan meal followed by some belly dancing, or something a little wilder.
So with that mind, we’ve compiled this definitive guide to the best restaurants in Marrakech. After all, everybody has a favourite place in the city, and we’ve written this guide to help you find yours.
Posted on October 17, 2011 by James Robbins
If you’ve decided to make the journey into Marrakech, a little planning goes a long way. Here are just a few suggestions for making the most of your day in The Red City.
For a fabulous day of sightseeing, take the mini-bus leaving Tigmi at 10ish. This will get you into the city in just half an hour. Head straight for the Majorelle gardens (also known as the Yves Saint Laurent garden), as these are stunning on a good day and the colours are magnificent. It’s best to go early before the crowds, though – otherwise you could find yourself on a conveyor belt following coach-loads of tourists.
Grab a cab
Walking between all the wonderful things to see in Marrakech will eat up your time and also make you hot and tired. Don’t be afraid to jump in one of the small Fiat Uno taxis around the city. (Be aware: they only take three people. So if you are a family of four you will need two taxis.) If you are in separate taxis, do make sure you both know where you are going.
I have heard of families ending up in different places, usually because of a Hollywood-esque (tempting but wholly inadvisable) request to “follow that cab”. All of the taxis in Marrakech look the same. It would be as hard as following a black cab around Piccadilly Circus or a yellow cab around Times Square.
Make time for Lunch
Ask one of the team at Tigmi if you are looking for something specific or perhaps a little special. My personal favourite is Kechmara, in Guéliz. This is a chic Moroccan café in the new town; if you choose to eat there, you’ll find a lovely sun terrace on which to eat good food at a fair price – oh, and it is all served with a warm smile. Kechmara is also a good place for those wanting to have a coffee and check up on emails. Ask one of the waitresses about their free Wi-Fi to avoid amassing roaming charges on your iPhone or Blackberry.
Another Popular place for lunch is Grand Cafe de la Poste, this is located, again in the new town but a little closer to the Medina.
Know your prices
In the afternoon, head to the souks and just suss them out. Maybe head to the Ensemble Artisanal, this is on Avenue Mohamed V. It is a government souk so the prices are fixed. I am not saying shop here, but it will give you a good idea of prices, and will stop you from getting ripped off in the actual souk. Then head to the souk …
Soak up the souks
I personally would not buy anything on the first visit, well OK just one or two things but I would save the rest for the second visit if you have time. This first visit is so that you can enjoy the souk: see it, smell it and feel the rush of it.
Sometimes the souk is very tame, but this depends on the time of year. Foot traffic can be much worse than walking down Oxford Street during the Christmas sales – it simply has to be seen and felt to be believed. The best part of seeing the souk is getting lost and finding yourself in a random alley, (Please note: I am recommending this in the daylight, not in the dark of night), selling just leather, or in the metal district where you will note that health and safety in Marrakech is, well, … relaxed. (You may find yourself stepping over workers using welding tools wearing just sunglasses or holding the nail they are banging with their toe.)
Depart, rest and return
Head back to Tigmi – after a tiring day in Marrakech, you’ll be in need of a cooling, long drink and a swim in the pool.
If you decide to head back into Marrakech, then I would go in the afternoon or evening. This time go straight to the Medina (the ancient part of the city) and get those items that you have seen and want to now spend time haggling for. After you have shopped, head to one of the roof top cafés and enjoy a mint tea while watching the life in La Place Djemaa-el-Fna (the main square). Alternatively, head to Kosybar’s roof terrace if you feel the need for something a little stronger.
At dusk the main square comes to life with all the snake charmers, story tellers, dentists and street performers. The air becomes filled with smoke from the food sellers, the noise is deafening but awakening and it truly is an amazing experience.
If you’re starting to get hungry, jump on the last mini-bus back to Tigmi at 7pm. Should you wish to return later and stay longer simply call the hotel and we will send a taxi to meet you.
Posted on January 12, 2011 by Arabella Robbins
From city riads to mountain retreats, Morocco has plenty of stylish hideaways. Alastair Sawday, publisher of the Special Places to Stay guides, picks 20 favourites:
Max’s hilltop retreat is a cluster of reconstructed village houses between Marrakesh and the mountains. You are led onwards and upwards through endless courtyards, corridors, arches and alcoves where light and dark play games with your eyes and level-changes confuse your geography. The peace of the place can now take over. Materials and forms are organic: irregular walls of stone and plaster, tadelakt bathrooms, quietly furnished bedrooms for rest and refreshment. The monastic serenity does not preclude gentle yet high-class hotel service.
Read the full article