Theres no denying that one of the best things about Morocco is the food. Marrkaech is very famous for its range of eats and I remeber how I got sick of just targine on my first trip.. I spent my recent trip exploring some new eats (their not all high end or touristy!!) to realise there is more then just targine to Morocco. Sometimes the simple things can be best. It’s easy to get stuck in the a typical tourist trap and eat with just google as a helping hand. Ive comprised a list of a few places i was impressed by below
Zaatar Maa Zit Firs things first, Morocco is not really a arabic, so their breakfst varies from Moroccan pancakes and bread. I decided to mingle more with the locals on this occasion and see where they were eating. One of my favourite places turned out to be ‘Maatar Za Bit’ in Mohammed 5. I found in Marrakech you can fall in a tourist trap when it comes to food, but it was just good honest, simple food. Everything is cooked fresh so the service may seem a bit slow, but I thought it was a good sign. They were very attentive and I spent most of my mornings for breakfast here, and they didnt hesitate to a few requests. They do everything from targines, mediterranean breakfast,chicken shewarmas, kebab and pizza. They don’t do any pushy selling either, just clean , tasty and honest. A great sign of a good cafe is checkout how many locals are using it. If its good enough for them, it will be good enough for you!
Address: Avenue Mohamed 5 Num 268 | 30 meters from Dino Coffee & 300 meters from Mc Do, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Grand Cafe de la posts The perfect French alfresco daytime dining ambience with a spritz of Mediterranean to it. French tourists spend their lunch times here. A relaxed but stylish complexion
Avenue Imam Malik, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Azar What a remarkable place! A perfect gothic style dimly lit restaurant gives this restaurant a almost perfect romantic atmosphere. I would recommend going for the set menu for two, which includes 9 fezzes, 2 mains, and a selection of sweets. This menu is a selection of flavours of North African with mediterranean, slowly ascending into berber style cusine and desserts, leaving an array of flavours in your mouth. It will set you back slightly £££ howevermell worth it for a special night out. Whilst eating you will enjoy a impressive bellydance show, and a live guitarist. This place was oh so special!
Address: Rue de Yougoslavie، Marrakesh, Morocco
Phone: +212 5244-30920
Les Jardins De Bala Set on top of one of the most beautiful Riads you will ever see, the Les Jardins de Bala is a classy , contemporary Indian restaurant serving one of the best biryanis i have ever tried. The decor is fit enough for a Raja from the Mughal era! The serve everything from South Indian, to North and Pakistani cuisine. It’s a peaceful way too end your day in the Medina,and you will briskly hear the bustling Jma al Fna in the distance a short fall away.
Royal Mansour If your after come classy dining, Marrakech has countless award winning hotels. The afternoon tea at the Royal Mansour is a great compliment to the traditional high tea. They have cleverly combined French, English and Moroccan savoury and sweet snacks to bring you the ideal tea experience, whilst admiring traditional designed architecture nd surroundings. This hotel is owned by the Toyal family of Morocco as is the Royal mansour, setting the standards. I did find the Moroccan tea slightly unusual, and perhaps not to everyones liking, but its great insight to berber sweets and savoury pieces. The French was exceptional!
26 rue de la Koutoubia, 40000, Marrakech
Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
La Mamounia If you really do want to treat yourself, then this is the one. Im going to finish my post with this one. Theres not a lot to be said but WOW! It’s a world class hotel, and won conde naste traveller awards 2015. Le Marocain dining will cost you approx £70 one average. If however its too pricey for you, and you want to experience the surroundings, opt into using their outdoor gardens and having some drinks instead! You will still get a similar experience for less!
I have to say firstly, that Cappadocia has left me mesmerised. Cappadocia is a natural region which has been formed through volcanic eruptions 1000’s of year ago, leaving behind a scenic landscape and unusual rock formations which pulls in millions of tourists each year. Besides this, Cappadocia possesses the perfect weather and views making it the ideal destination for hot air ballooning. If you have alway wanted to do a hot air balloon ride, look no further.
Morning views from the terrace Millstone Suites
Lets observe a bit closer. You need to wake up in time for sunset approximately 5 am to view the balloons in all their glory. Somewhere between 30-40 balloons set off in the distance, making it the most surreal observation you will have ever seen. It’s a moment that will truly grasp you, and one not to be forgotten. The balloons drift over the rose valley, and with the sunrise lighting up the valley, it will almost seem like you are staring at a painting.
Many of the local land formations were historically made into caves. You need to look in Cappadocia history to truly appreciate the nature of the caves in this UNESCO world heritage site, and what makes it so special. Local people have bought caves, and transformed them into 5 star suites, also known as ‘cave hotels’ which brings us onto our first attraction here; it’s a must if your visiting the area. I was lucky enough to stay with Millstone Suites; a 7 bedroom luxury boutique cave hotel located on the edge of Uchisar.
Turkish ‘Menemen’ for breakfast
Breakfast with views of the valley
This pretty property is run by Alper Kankilic and had a beyond wonderful ambience. Each suite is traditional with the modern fitted luxuries, making it a perfect romantic setting, but still articulating the original features of the cave. Every evening the terrace comes alive, as guest mingle together on the wonderful fire lit terrace looking over the Rose valley, enjoying some homemade Turkish cuisines. With the relaxed ambience, chilled music, and the two resident puppies Whisky and Malt running around, I almost felt pleasantly at home.
The Flamin Marvellous restaurant is a perfect addition to this already beguiling property. They restored old stone bakery which was located originally where the hotel is built, unlocks a piece of history and produces the most delicious Turkish flavours, expanding your imagination to how delectable the bakery must have been 100’s of years ago .They serve everything from house wine, traditional Turkish cuisines intertwined with Armenian and mediterranean influences, burgers, and continental breakfasts. I love Turkish food, it has so much soul to it and recommend to try their dishes as part of your journey to this incredible place. I enjoyed the menemen for breakfast; its a perfect way to start the day consisting of eggs, peppers and tomatoes , and ‘testi kebabi’ for dinner. They also have a impressive collection of liqueurs, wines and cocktails, so you will be spoilt for choice!
Millstonecave suites The perfect cave hotel
Starting price for rooms will set you back about £125.00, includes breakfast
If your looking for a very high end luxury hotel with a Byzantine feel to it, the museum hotel is located a few walks away. This 30 bedroom award winning premium property includes silk furnishing details, mosaic marble bathrooms accompanied by jacuzzi bath tubs in each and every one of their rooms. Their proudest asset is their infinity pool which offer ‘Alfresco’ massages on demand, with views of the valley which will have you reminiscing for a long time.
The museum hotel Rooftop infinity pool: winner of the luxury hotel awards, best luxury boutique hotel Europe
Views from the courtyard
They have a Michelin restaurant which I really recommend called Lil’a, which blends food from the historical influence of the Ottoman empire, including the likes of Armenia, Anatolia and greece. This combination, and a touch of culinary consultant Murat Bozok, gives the restaurant such a impeccable edge. They own their own 500 acre of land where their produce is freshly grown, ensuring you only have natural and local products on your plate. Cappadocia was home to so many civilisations, and being the only Relais & Châteaux hotel in Turkey, I wouldn’t give this number a miss! Their food will ensure you take a journey into history
Besides Cappadocia being a relaxing retreat, if you find yourself wanting to explore, read my guide below which touches light on just some of the many things this wonderful destination has to offer
Go shopping for a turkish carpet. Ikman carpets is popular amongst tourists, and they have beautiful Turkish rugs priced from anywhere between £100- £2000 . All their products are handmade and they have a impressive gallery display. Prepared to be enticed by Turkish coffee and shish whilst you haggle
Ikmancarpets: Aydinliorta Mah. Hakki Pasa Meydan Goreme, Nevsehir 50180, Turkey
Pasabag Valley (Valley of the monks) Visit the Pasbag valley and knock up a camel ride to visit the fairy chimneys. It has a beautiful landscape with twin and triple chimneys . Paşabağ means “Pasha’s Vineyard”, a name it received after the Byzantine Greek population left the region which is located in the middle of a vineyard.
Camels at the Paşabağ valley
Uchisar castle is a fort/castle, originally used as a safe house when enemies were nearby. It is located nearby the cave hotels in the town of Uchisar. It has small dwarf like holes throughout which has aroused some myths of dwarf like people living here. People would leave their homes in Uchisar, and flock to the fort and hide. This castle really gives the town some character, and as the fortress can be seen from almost every suite, its not hard to imagine how life may have been. From here you can also walk further onto the pigeon valley
Open air museum, a monastic settlement from 4000 bc. It has approximately 9-10 churches with beautiful preserved artefacts, due to the lack of light. One of them even resembles petra. This was my top place to visit in Cappadocia
Saruhan, used as a stopover house by during the era of the silk road, by the Perisans. Its now used as a show house, and in the evening you can find the art of sufi dancing which is so prominent in Turkey, known as the Dervish whirlers. A must go if your a Rumi or Turkish/Persian literature fan. Tickets are approximately 25euros for the show
Underground City, a historical underground network used by the christians to escape persecution by the Romans, and later muslims. the largest underground city is 10 floors deep, and you will find yourself ducking and diving, in between the cold atmospheric walls. You will see everything from their fridge rooms, to their living rooms. It’s a very odd experience, just make sure you don’t get lost!
Hot Air balloons It’s the most scenic place in the world for a hot air balloon ride. You will witness approximately 30-40 balloons around you, with epic views of the rose valley. You will be expected to wake up early, as balloon rides begin about 5am or according to sunrise.
I’m a sucker for rooftop pools, and The Hong Kong Intercontinental really exhilirates my senses. There is something slightly surreal about watching the world go by from a rooftop infinity pool
The prestige property is located on the edge of the victoria Harbour in the Kowloon district. it has 1600 individually appointed rooms. For a surcharge of HK450 (£37) you can sit back in comfort with a signature ‘nine dragons’ cocktail, in the knowledge you’ve snagged one of the most desirable spots in town with the most epic panoramic views!
Views from the rooftop pool
Intercontinentals egg benedicts breakfast
Rooftop pool Bar
Night view from the pool Signature cocktails in the lobby
If you love cities, Hong Kong is a huge contender against the city out there with the likes of Dubai, Tokyo, London and New York. It’s pretty impressive in its lineup, and I love the fact the cultural experience is so vast here! Theres a lot more to Hong Kong then just Hotels and skyscrapers. It boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage,with a dash of western values which has come about from its pre British reign. With more then one island to explore in a city that never sleeps, you will be pretty rapt in Hong Kong. Choose from various things to do in this cosmopolitan city such as panoramic views from the Victoria Harbour and peak, cultural trips to Lantau Island, or excursions to Macau. Make sure you guys head over to my review of ‘The venetian hotel- Macau’
Yesterday I got a exclusive peak at the modish ‘Diwania lounge’, the latest edition Hotel Cafe Royal. Located in the prestigious area of W1, this property is eminently pleasing. They boast a pretty impressive apartment here with panoramic views, and it’s not that i’ve never visit a suite before, but something about this quite that set it features apart from another. The property is rich with history, and elegance, and as you transcend up their stair case, ahistorical story unfolds.
I was pleased to be in the chance of visiting their new, and exciting pop collaboration currently being held with Harrods, showcasing the ‘made with love’ range. Its a temporary submergent which has been open since Ramadan, showcasing Harrods personalised perfumery and bag collection taking place in their gilded style of French Louis XVI Ballroom.
Immediately on arrival, my attention was deflected by the striking gold architecture. The gold accents are reminiscent of a French Royal Palace, only with the finest attention to detail. The elegant lounge extends to a open rooftop terrace, overlooking Regent street with some beautifully articulated pillars to shape your panoramic views.
Gold decor at the Diwania Lounge Regent Street
The hot mezze and state of the art cocktails
The exceptional menu will include hot and cold meze, grilled chicken skewers, marinated lamb cutlets and tagine, as well as delicious delicacies like baklava and Turkish delight. These dishes will be complimented by a selection of international dishes from the hotel’s own culinary team, under the guidance of Head Chef, Armand Sablon. With quite a large selection of Middle Eastern dishes, you will be spoilt for choice. P.S, I recommend trying the pistachio cocktail, its a interesting blend of as it sounds!
Panoramic views of Regent Street
Sunglasses by rayban and Jacket by Frocks and Frills; bag by Karen Millen
Watch by Jord Watches- click here to buy- enter ’35FRANKIEsoHOT’ for 10% off. Or head over to https://www.woodwatches.com/g/monuslifestylediaries to win a e voucher of $80 to spend with them, and a chance to win a watch.
I love this place! It’s refreshing to see somewhere for our Middle Eastern clients who come to the UK, and being frequent travellers, this unique lounge is much to be appreciated
Open from 15 July until 28 August 2016, until 3 am daily
Book by emailingDiwania@hotelcaferoyal.com
HOTEL CAFÉ ROYAL, 68 REGENT STREET, LONDON W1B 4DY TELEPHONE +44 (0)20 7406 3333
If your thinking of going to Marrakech for a short trip , why not take a look my inspirational guide below? it’s just a tip of the iceberg of all the things you can do! I will be taking another trip to Marrakech in September to bring you the best of food!
Visit one of the top hotels in the world
Marrakech has some top boutique hotels, and La Mamounia certainly set the standards when it was voted Best Hotel in the World by Conde Nast Traveller UK in September 2015. The intricate property is a aficionados dream come true, and with its equable ambience, you will truly appreciate the hard work thats gone into this place. Originally the 3-ha park was given by the Sultan ‘Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah’ to his son, Moulay Mamoun, for his wedding in the 18th century. It was green oasis behind the city’s Kasbah and became quickly known for his lavish garden parties. Later updated to a hotel in 1923 the ‘La Mamounia’ a property that proudly exhibits moorish opulence seamlessly. It’s a must see.
Gardens patio of La Mamounia Marrakesh
The Jardin Majorelle
The famous Jardin majorelle also known as the’ Yves Saint Laurent gardens’ , features a abundance of blue architecture. Its a modern masterpiece created to work in harmony with the hand crafted botanical gardens of exotic and rare species with surroundings, making it a pleasurable experience . Designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s, it later belonged to Yves Saint Laurent in the 1980’s who described it as ‘a unlimited source of inspiration, dreaming many times about the unique colours.
Try some targine
Targine at cafe arabe
Get traditional by trying some local cuisines. I recommend Cafe arabe or nomad for some delicious home made targine, a dish slow cooked in a targine plate with a choice of lamb, fish or chicken!. If you love targine you may want to get hands sticky, and dive straight into a Moroccan cooking class at fez such as the one here below:
If you decide to buy your own targine pots, read the guide on safe targines
Visit the Ben Youssef Medersa
Officially the largest quranic school of North Africa , the Medersa (meaning school in Arabic ) once had 900 students in 132 dorms arranged around the courtyard studied religious and legal texts here. It’s now open to visitors and boasts a array of colours and intricate wall designs
It’s hard to travel somewhere like Marrakesh and not want to take a piece of it back with you. The medina is the perfect market to shop in, but you will have to be ready to haggle . The medina will erupt your imagination back to the stories of alibaba. The souks sell a variety of spices, artisans and handmade decorative home pieces. It’s easy to get lost here so make sure you have a local sim card which allows you to use internet for £1 a day
The red walls of the Medina
Carre Eden located near Jemma al Fna
Or if your looking for somewhere a bit more contemporary hit Gueliz, the newer part of the city, is a more modern vibe featuring extensive European shopping brands, eateries and cafes. Best of all, you don’t have to haggle. Their grandest shopping complexes include the Menara mall or Carre Eden
I love riads, I hope I can own one one day! Read my favourite riad guide here. They really are a true rendition of traditional Moroccan life. Many riads have since been restored under the UNESCO scheme by foreigners, bringing out there original characters and artisans, and each riad has something new to explore. The roads are a architectures dream, based on a central atrium with a fountain surrounded by trees and bedrooms. They are a architectures dream!
If you havent accoodated yourself in a riad and simply want to visit one, how about just going to one for dinner. Try the Dar Cherifa, its the oldest riad in Marrakech, and the food is delicous!
Take a excursion to Ouzoud
The picturesque falls
I done my tour to here with click excursions which can be booked here , after extensive research they were the cheapest company and provide really good service. Ouzoud was only two hours away, and its the largest waterfall in North Africa. It’s very impressive, and you can hike all the way round it, where you will end up at restaurants on the other side close to the exit. You can have a Moroccan barbecue right beneath the falls,surrounded by berber monkeys. It will surely be a memorable experience
email@example.com 00 212 661 165 800
Jemma al Fna
Taken from Glacier, overlooking the square
The Jemmaa al Fna has some mixed reviews, and its not a place for all of us. But if you like the idea of snake charmers, belly dancers, and monkeys, it will rock your boat. It comes alive at night, and its usually to come with a few people rather then travel alone. If you decide to come alone, jus watch your bag, and keep some change (10-20 dirham just about does it) to give to performers if you decide to photograph them. I find its good to be stern if you don’t want something as their quite pushy here, or just stand to the side and watch from a distance. I kept my sunglasses on and earphones in if I didn’t want attention- just a tip!
A note to women; its good to free slightly modest here. Fashion of all types is tolerated in Morocco, but the rule slightly changes here. Why attract unwanted attention if its just going to ruin your night?
Derb Chtouka, Marrakesh 40008, Morocco
Have a hammam treatment
Originating from Turkey, the Islamic variant of the Roman bath, steam bath is a focus on water, as distinct from ambient steam followed by a scrub down. Ham is a popular treatment in Marrakech and you will be spoilt for choice! I recommend heading down to hammam de la Rose
Address: 130, Dar El Bacha | Medina, Marrakech 40000, Morocco Phone Number: 212524444769
Dubai is the largest city amongst the 7 of the UAE.The beautiful state of the Emirates, a tranquil desert Oasis on the Persian Gulf, is a dream city built on ideas and concepts never explored before. Everytime you visit Dubai, you will find something new from your previous visits. It’s a relatively new blue print drafted up and built over 45 years, and its hard to believe what once was a empty desert, is evolving at such a fast pace as it is. It has attracted expats from all over the globe to join the large financial hub and hospitality industry. Along with the establishment of Dubai, it has also become a attractive holiday destination with a bustling party life , clubs, tranquil residences, beaches , and shopping experiences to remember! Dubai travel has to be ticked off your bucket list
My regulars will know all about my love affair with Dubai. I love the emirates and their limitless . They can take any idea , and make it into something bigger and better. Just take the Burj Khalifa for example, officially the tallest building in the world, and getting taller! It has 148 floors in total boasting 360 panoramic views of Dubai. Don’t underestimate what Dubai has to offer!
Where did I Stay?
I was invited along to SPG hotels, The Sheraton Dubai mall of Emirates situated inside of Dubai Mall, the premium, glamourous end of the SPG brand, with all amenities built within, where you can simply walk out of your hotel directly into the world famous ‘Mall of Emirates’.
They boast some breathtaking views of the Burj Khalifa Skyline,the burj Al Arab from the southside, twin rooftop pools, 433 rooms, and 3 restaurants with a beautiful shish terrace. You won’t be short of things to do here. Visiting Dubai previously, I always chose to stay Downtown, or Jumeirah, however I always felt exahausted by the traffic and hustle and bustle of Downtown. Mall of Emirates is a considerably more feasible option, located on the 4th interchange of Sheikh Zayed road, and Downtown is only 10 minutes drive from here!
The beautifully decorated reception at Sheraton
SPG Hospitality at its finest
Beautiful views of the Burj Khalifa skyline from the terrace
Shisha Terrace lounge @ Sheraton MOE
Bedroom views of Burj Al Arab
Pricier Luxury residence options?
If your after something luxury, head over to The Palm or Jumeirah. The man made island has some beautiful properties such as the Atlantis, Four Seasons, The One and Only and the Fairmont. if you don;t have a budget to cover these hotels, you can always use their bar or attend one of their restaurants, and have a leisure around the hotel this way!
Dubai is a shoppers dream. The mall of emirates multi-level shopping mall currently features more than 630 retail outlets, 7900 parking spaces, over 100 restaurants & Cafes, 80 luxury stores and 250 flagship stores. They also have themiddleeasts first indoor skiing resort- Ski Dubai. Best of all, everything is available tax free!
My mall of emirates shopping experience
Take a excursion to Ras Al Khaimah : Yes there is lots to do and see outside of the city centre. As the UAE is not so large, you can easily hire a car, and drive to local cities. in fact the drive to Ras Al Khamiah took us the best part of 2-2.5 hours, and its a huge change of scenery! You will be close to the border of Oman, which has a stunning insta worthy mountainous range, and a jaw dropping sunset to watch. we saw the fortress, and wall of Ras al Khaimah, and visited the reserves. If your looking for something less strenuous, there is tonnes of companies offering desert duning or camel riding tours
Looking into Oman from Ras
Visit the Burj Khalifa
It’s the worlds tallest building, and you can visit the 128th floor observation deck for a price of £30.00. If you have a bigger budget pay and additional £15.00 for the sunset, or £80 to of to the 148th floor. I much like the night views, Dubai just comes alive at night
Get the best of the city with a view from a rooftop bar
Yes there is a extrenuous amount of bars and choices here. On Every corner, and every hotel, there is a competition of which bar will have the best views, best coctails. If i had a choice, I would visit very bar possible in Dubai. If your a first timer, stick to bars in Jumeirah or the Palm- I love the Royal mirage One and Onlys’ 101 bar for its ambience, or the Four Seasons Jumeirah where their perfectly formed arches resemble the city.
Views from Four Seasons Bar
For rooftop city bars try out ‘Shades’ at the address in Dubai Marina, they have a gorgeous rooftop pool and breathtaking views of the Dubai Marina, or somewhere closer to downtown I recommend the level 43 @ four Points sheraton.One of my favourite bars is Four Points sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the heart of the city, and glance over the skyscrapers and phenomenal views of the Burj Khalifa, whilst sipping on state of the art cocktail.
Try some Indian food
The UAE is obviously a arabic country, however historically, it has tied in a lot of trade from nearby areas such s India, Pakistan and iran. In fact in the 1940’s many people flooded into dubai for work and business and it has had a large influence from Asia, culturally, in terms of language and food. You cannot come to dubai without trying some Indian food, because its much part of their culture now, and alongside this its attracted some top ranked Indian chefs!
Just a ‘taste’ of the House of curry dishes
I was invited along to the House of Curry on Jumeirah Beach, an exotic array of indian dishes which takes you through a incredible journey taste journey from the South to the North. I particularly loved the Kerala fish, lamb Bhoti and the drinks. Being Indian, this took me back to my childhood, and it was as good as home made. This place does not cease to disappoint! The beautiful Indian garden setting is amazing too with colours and themes dating back to the Mughal Empire. They have a beautiful tree growing through the centre with traditional Rajasthani and Jaipur paintings and architecture.
Beautiful views from the Mint Leaf Dubai
Based on the original sister restaurant Mint Leaf based in London, there has been much success to Dubais’ branch after its initial launch in August 2015. Mint Leaf, located in the emirates financial tower is a whole new take on Indian food. They present their food as a three course menu, with a taster style presentation of several starters, mains or desserts. The food palette is immensely colourful, and tastes amazing. Its a modern take of Indian food, where they play with new tastes and styles which you may not have tried before, giving it a Michelin star feel. Take the gulab jaman , a traditional Indian/ Persian desert. It has been adapted to a cheese cake, or soft shell crab/ wild mushroom and fennel soup with white truffle oil. Their food is cooked in front of you, and monitored by Chef Vivek. It truly is a beautiful experience visually and taste too, as there are beautiful views of the Burj Khalifa in front of you, and looking down on the city! They also have a lovely bar upon entrance, which gets pretty busy on weekends!
Visit the Burj Al Arab
If you can’t afford a night here like the rest of us, you can always visit one of the restaurants or bar;s. Using the facilities in a hotel is a great way to get access and a wonder around. This is a 7 star hotel who’s architectural design is down to Chinese artist Kuan Chew. It’s of great significance to Dubai and a proud achievement. It will probably be the most surreal hotel you have been to! Wether you find it impressive or just plain odd is unto you!
Fountains in front of the Burk Khalifa
Every half an hour, in front of the Burj Khalifa, you can watch Dubai fountains spring into a beautiful water show, each show is choreographed individually to work in ambience with the music and something new from the show before. I recommend sticking around after a show is complete to get to the front before the next one, as crowds gather up pretty fast here. It can also be seen from the Terrace of the Palace hotel situated behind Souk Al Bahar whilst enjoying some Thai food at ‘Thipara’.
After getting lost in all the above, its easy to forget what the Emirates are really about. It;s important to leave the sky scrapers behind and develop a better understanding of Emirate culture and life before the creation of Dubai. Situated in the Shindaga neighbourhood of Bur Dubai, the museum is small but informative exhibits on display. You’ll find bags of spices, incense, rose petals, and traditional medicinal products stacked outside each stall. From here you can walk to the Dubai creek, get a Dhow (boat) across the river and visit the Spice Souk or gold Souks’.
Spice markets in the Cultural Village
Visit a theme Park
The theme parks are endless in Dubai. Wild Wadi, Aqua adventure, Ferrari world… the list is endless. I love Wild Wadi, and for a extra fee, you can go swimming with dolphins. It’s a amazing experience as towards the end, the dolphins will perform a show for you and show you their best tricks. You can visit the theme park at the Atlantis Hotel Dubai
Weather its the food, exotic smells, abundance of culture, beautiful architecture, art, or call to prayer, it’s easy to be seduced by Marrakech. I’d often read a lot about marrakech, but visiting was a experience in itself. I will actually admit, I have Marrakech fever. It’s difficult not to fall in love with this city!
Marrakech has always seemed slightly cliche to me, and always struck me as a place to visit to experience the quintessential Saharan life of North Africas’ region. It’s the fourth largest city in Morocco, located in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, and is the perfect destination to visit if you want to introduce yourself to Morocco.
Due to its geographical location, it’a accessible, in only 3 and a half hours from London, making it one of the easiest journeys to do Its bursting with a abundance of culture in such a short fall of time. In other words, it’s perfect! Being a islamised Country has made it subject to certain stereotypes due to prevailing political problems nearby, however keep an open mind and you will be welcomed with open arms. Somehow the city manages to balance its culture and assent western values seamlessly.
Where to stay?
You will find countless riads in the Medina and old city, or countless hotel chains in the new hotels. If you want to experience real moroccan hospitality, go for a Riad, even if it’s only for a night! Once owned by the wealthiest citizens such as merchants and courtiers focused around family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco, They will take you back in time ,. Many of the restored riads in the districts of Mouassine and Lakssour offer the finest examples of restoration as historically these areas contained many of the grand palaces from Marrakech’s Saadian period, now owned mostly by foreigners, helping restore UNESCO sites.
Luxury: Riad Al Maha
Almaha is a relatively new premium boutique Riad, with a decor fit for royalty. With large spacious suites, amongst only 12 rooms, your truly likely to have a unique one to one experience here. All the food is home made, and you could spend hours bird watching on the hotel grounds, or admiring the rooftops from the Terrace.
When I arrived to Al maha, I was greeted to a average wooden door from the main street. I did’t really know what to expect. When I entered, I was greeted by wonderful staff with a mint tea, in a quaint front room with a large bookcase. ‘Ma’am, there is a secret door in here, can you guess where ‘? I had a look around, and from watching one too many movies I guessed a moving bookcase would’t be far off, although I couldn’t see any entry points. She pushes the book case and asked me ‘ please come in’ . I approached with suspicion, enjoying the banter at the same time. After this, I’m sure the wow in my facial expressions said it all. How is this great hidden gem, hidden behind that one door? I already have a feeling I won’t want to leave. And thats what I love about Marrakech. On every corner or through every door, it holds a little secret waiting to be explored.
Beautiful grounds of AlMaha
This riad is cleverly designed by Charles Kaisin, a Belgian architect. With the thick walls, and centre water feature, and beautifully draped curtains, it was at least 10 degree cooler as you enter. With only 8 exclusive boutique rooms individually tailored, their accomodation is fit for a king (literally)! It’s a surreal experience, with only the sound of birds or fountain to keep you company. This is definitely my number one property in Marrakesh!
The pixel room- each pixel is handcrafted to imitate the ‘Jna Al Fna’ Square
Key Features: Luxurious interior design exclusive by Charles Kaisah, located in prestige Kesbah, boutique rooms, ;Price ££££
55 Derb Ben Zina، Marrakesh 40040, Morocco; +212 5243-86782; http://www.almahamarrakech.com
Perfect for romance/couples
Budget: Riad Adore
Marrakesh is full of a range of beautiful options if on a budget. There are many reasonable priced riads dispersed around the Medina with a beautiful boutique feel , each one to its own identity. I was lucky enough to try our Riad Adore. Its a small chic read, run more by a small number of staff, making the service exceptionally personal. With 10 individually decorated rooms, newly decorated by Christoper S , Its located in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of the Medina.
The patio area is decorated with pretty greys, authentic feeling window shutters, and the sound of the fountains make you feel you are sleeping out in the open at night. The property facilitates a hammam, a salon offering a wide range of treatments, a library, and a rooftop berber tent perfect for shisha summers, or fire lit winters.
The boutique riad comes alive at night, lit with candles and chillout music, making a magical atmosphere for the guests.
Riad Adore grounds
Riad Adore,94 Derb Tizouagrine, Dar El Bacha, Marrakech Medina 00 44 (0) 7935 079 983 (UK) Riadadore.com
Medina: Riad Star
If you want to opt into staying deep in the Medina and experience the old city first hand, then head to Riad Star. It’s owned by Mike wood, but was the original home of Josephine Baker in the early 1940’s, so it’s got a unique character which sets it apart from other riads. The 7 bedrooms character property has changed very little, with just the much needed updates to the bedroom keeping the original artefacts to give the feel you are stepping into her original home. Its a fun modern art deco property with Moroccan spirit, and stepping into the riad is like taking a step back in time to the 1940’s flapper era without sacrificing modern comforts. You will have fun dressing up as Josephine, as they still have her costumes on display for guests to try on.
Colourful doors on the First floor terrace
Conveniently located near the Ben Youssef Mederessa, its one of the tallest buildings in the neighbourhood with astonishing views of the rooftops and Koutobia mosque especially at the sunset hour .You can take a stroll on the terrace at night, enjoy the sunset, prayer time next to the rooftop fireplace with some tasty homemade dinner.
The terrace top room which I stayed
The rooms have small dainty artisans belonging to Josephine herself, and all rooms are equipped with top of the range en suites with power shower, luxury robes, silk sheets, hairdryer, mini fridge and
Watch me having fun at riad star!
staff are extremely attentive and friendly, and you feel part of a family from the day you step in . Most importantly, they provided a prepaid mobile phone to each of their guests to call them if they take a stroll out and hesitate to find their way back. Even on my third trip to Morocco I was hopeless in the Medina! Safety is a huge thing and the Medina can be daunting at night, especially if its your first time! This service really sets this Riad apart.
Key Features: Boutique Riad, Medina location, Excellent views of rooftop and Koutoubia, Events can be arranged here, onsite hammam
Perfect for solo travellers/ groups of friends/female travellers Price ££
Chain hotel: Four Seasons
On the other hand, if you are after something a bit more commercial, you won’t have a shortfall of a well known large chain group to choose from. Marrakesh has attracted properties from the Four Seasons, Sofitel, Sheratton and Fairmont. I resided with the Four Seasons, and although it comes at a larger price tag,they have done a fabulous job of keeping the Moroccan identity, whilst amalgamating their signature image well. This property is located at a prestigious part of Marrakesh, and it has 141 rooms, alongside 27 suites – all with private balcony and terraces, on site Le Spa, swimming pools, tennis courts, and fitness grounds. Their tranquil gardens are a world away from the bustling city and most importantly which goes without saying, you will be treated with the exclusive hospitality as a Four Seasons. I recommend their properties worldwide!
Four seasons signature fountain
Hotel grounds at night
Four Seasons signature coffee leaf
Generous views from the deluxe rooms
Look who we bumped into! Zoz Alajail follow him on Insta @zozalajail
Key features: 5 star hotel, chain group hotel, Situated in premium neighbourhood of Marrakech, 3 nights get one free; Price ££££
One things for sure, if your coming to Morocco, you should’t miss out on the serenity and hospitality of riads, lets face it, how many times will we get the chance to experience a riad?
perfect for couples, families, people with a high budget
For everyone who watched my snaps (monu_b) , you will know how much I loved this hotel! With the grand entrance, the range of restaurants, the Six Senses Spa, Its literally as the name suggests, a village! There is so much to do under one roof. I recommend a 4-5 day trip in Doha, if you want to beat the prices of Dubai but have the same experience.
So if you guys are planning a visit soon, read my guide below of the top 5 hotels in Doha as tried and tested by me!
On a budget?
If anyone has watched my youtube blog, you will know I love Movenpick hotels. Ive worked with them in the past, but its their values which I find attractive. They are a high end chain group, but everything about them shouts simplicity. The Movenpick West bay is pretty good buck for your money. It’s located centrally in the west Bay, amongst all the 6 star hotels, but they have the most killer view to outdo them all. If your looking for glamour on a budget its definitely the place to stay. They have a pool with a pretty impressive view not he 24th floor, where you can see the whole of Doha, and overlook all the much more expensive competitors nearby. I would say this is the number one place to stay in Doha in terms of location and cost. They have 60 suites out of their 300 rooms which i stayed in, and the experience was like no other. The rooms are large and over looking the city, with a separate living room and bedroom. Its a great view to wake up to! Rooms start at 700 riyal which is reasonable for this financial hub. Theirs lots going on nearby so why not slip in a drive under the city as the sun sets!
They also won ‘Qatar’s leading city hotel’ by World Travel Awards’ 2015
Mövenpick West Bay Doha prides itself on being a Green Hotel, with a major focus on sustainable operations, and spreading awareness on living green.
The hotel supports local Go Green initiatives, in coordination with the Qatar Green Building Council, partnering up on several occasions and projects such as “Art from Trash’, “No Paper Day’, as well as hosting the Council’s events at the hotel.
The employees of the hotel are also living green; lead by the property’s Green Team, the hotel organizes numerous green activities annually, including Earth Hour, Beach Clean Ups and Tree Planting projects. They are also currently supporting a local charity which works with disabilities.
Pool on the 24th floor
Impressive views from the suite
Head to the Souq Waqif boutique hotels! Traditional Arabian settings in luxury! Located throughout the Souq, this impressive 9 property empire owned by the Qatari royal family, takes you back in time to what arabia is all about! The spice markets, restaurants and Souq will keep you busy until the early hours of the morning. Read my post about them here
The Ritz Sharq village and Spa. They have some pretty amazing concessions here, such as restaurant Parisa which I tried out. It’s super close to the airport, and it;s tucked and hidden away from all the hustle and bustle. You wake up in the morning to peace and quiet. The grounds are absolutely lovely, with a shish lounge, swimming pools, and the impressive award winning ‘Six Senses Spa’. You can read about them here
The Ritz has a impressive outdoor pool
Head to Amari Boutique hotels. It has a lovely view of the West Bay area, and a small but attractive rooftop pool. It’s located more towards the residential area of Doha, but its location made it slightly more appealing. In the city its hard to get away from the noise, but it did just that!
Cool and Snazzy?
W Hotels is definitely a hip hotel, with a state of the art light display as you enter. If you love the hustle and bustle, and your young, it’s perfect. I tried out La Spiga, which is traditional Italian cuisine, and it has to have been one of my favourite restaurants I went to! You can follow their very beautiful snapchat account on ‘wdoha’ to find out more about their upcoming events. Be sure they will be hosting .
So I recently went to Doha, and below I’ve comprised a list of my top places to Visit – These are my ‘top 10 things to do in doha’ . Doha, I guess you could say is a mini Dubai, but less developed. However its a good thing, because you can do everything you do in Dubai for ‘less the the price.’
1- Even if your not leaving the airport for long, prioritise this on your list. Its going to be the craziest, and he most buzzing place you visit here. I wish I had spent longer here! The Souq takes you back in time, where at night it comes alive into spice markets, gold markets, pets for sale! It’s beautiful! They have a selection of cuisines and restaurants to suit all your individual taste palettes, borrowed from local countries such as India, Perisan, Sham Arab (Lebanese, Syrian). I stayed Al Bidda Hotel (not to the falcon hospital) part of the luxury hotel group Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels. It’s one of 9 properties in the Souq Waqif. Make it the Hotel you stay in! I promise you will thank me for it.
This is the hidden gem in Souq Waqif, literally. A beautiful Iranian restaurant, inspired by the famous Mosque in Isfahan, Iran. It’s spectacular with the crafted jewels from the floor to ceiling, and serves the best Iranian food in the area. Alternatively, the Ritz Carlton Doha also own a chain of Parisa, set in their Sharq Village complex.
At Parisa in the ritz Sharq Villiage
Westbay is Doha’s newest convention! And it stands grand and tall overlooking Doha. You can book anything from the best of the best 5 star hotels, or stay with (my recommended hotel) Movenpick west bay. It;s cheap, its cheerful, its tall, an the view is more grand then any of the neighbouring hotels. Don’t forget to watch the sunset with the whole of Doha in the distance.
4- Katara cultural village
The title says it all! The cultural village reincarnates the traditional culture, history, arts and islamic architecture, with architecture dating back from the Persians last influence in the area.Many Qatari organisations have their offices in Katara. These include the Qatari Society for Engineers, Qatar Fine Arts Society, Visual Art Centre, Qatar Photographic Society, Childhood Cultural Centre. The buildings and facilities at Katara were deliberately arranged in order to reflect the country’s cultural and architectural heritage.
5- Desert safari
I have to place this at number one. Boy did I have good time. There is no limits on what you can and cannot do here! So wave goodbye to health and safety! But it makes it all that more fun. I booked my trip with falcon tours Doha, watch the crazy day out on my youtube channel. These guys definitely make your day out very fun, and well worth it. You can book day tours below
6- Grand Mosque
Site of many cultural activities including art exhibitions, indy films, operas, orchestras and festivals. Built to replicate a traditional Qatari village with a few twists thrown in, such as the newly-built Falcon Museum, shaped like a falcon hood (not open yet). Be sure to visit the Roman amphitheatre and test the amplifying acoustics by standing in the middle of the stage and speaking in a normal voice. All the restaurants are excellent but I love to get a cup of karak from Karak & Chapati and walk along the promenade in the evening. The lights on the promenade are kept dim to provide privacy for Qatari families and there are free golf buggies available to take you about. There’s a public beach with water sports which you can use for a fee but there’s not much shade so avoid it during hot periods. I always like to spend an evening here. Check the Katara website for current events and dress modestly.
7-Islamic Museum of Art
The place to go if your looking for current exhibitions, or a unique perspective of the city from their fabulous courtyard. Its where education, meets art. They are currently holding the QIFF2016 food festival (sadly I missed it)
8- Afternoon tea at Marsa Malaz
Oh yes! If you want to live the high life for the day, I recommend trying the afternoon tea at the Marsa malaz. The hotel is designed by a artist, from the decor to the lighting. Every inch of detail will wow you as soon as you step in through the front door. They do one of the best afternoon tea’s in town, with handmade chocolates, patisseries, which were so, so impressive. Read more about my afternoon tea experience here
Visit The Pearl:
The venice of Doha! This is a pretty impressive add on to Doha and relatively new. When you hit the pearl, you feel your taking a drive through venice, with the pastel coloured housing, and beautiful architecture. Only the most privileged live here, but definitely a little Italy set in Doha. If you want the whole Venice experience, head to to Villago mall, where they have built river with boats through the shopping centre. The idea is mirrored on the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, and Macau. Its definitely eye catching
9- The Torch doha
The Torch doha, is a perfect example of the GCC taking a idea, and making it bigger and better. This hotels very cool. It’s set more in the outskirts of doha, right next to where the stadium for the 2022 world cup is being built currently. I recommend dining at the Tea garden, which has a full on grass ceiling (yes, a grass ceiling) so you have the essence of having a afternoon tea outdoors. I had the pleasure of dining in the flying carpet (recommended highly) with cuisine from all over the world, with a different dining experience on different floors. Their Panorama 360 comes alive at night , with a beautiful decor lit up with neon blue nights, which can spotted in the distance. The building stands tall and proud over the city.
Also you have great views of the Khalifa stadium which is less the 3 miles away!
Do you want to see spectacular views of the city? This is the place to come. Wether its for a evening stroll, or a morning run, you will see the perfect panoramic view of the city from here!
Hotels I recommend for the 2022 world cup
Bidda Hotels Souq Waqif for some traditional Qatari cultue
Movenpick west bay for incredible views and ideal prices! Their green too, and put lots of thought into their carbon footprint.
Sharq Villiage and Sa by the Ritz for relaxation
Amari Boutique hotels for views of the West Bay, and because its a simple but wonderful!
As you Guys know a proceeding of my money raised from marketing and working with hotels go to charity. I decided this time round to help contribute money to Al Hamali workers from Souq Waqif (usually quite elderly). You can watch a video about them below, produced my Amal AlMuftah for the Thimun Film festival. If you would like to kindly donate anything for this project, you may do below: