Babymoon in Marrakech {Part One}

Finding the right destination for “winter sun” can be mind boggling. As I waded through countless travel websites promising me sandy beaches and hot weather in March, I soon realised that most of the recommendations required a long-haul flight which at nearly six months pregnant, I didn’t really fancy doing.

This was to be a well advised “babymoon” before the summer hits and our travel plans are temporarily scuppered by the welcome arrival of a new little addition to our family.

Our needs were simple - sunshine, short haul and a week of uninterrupted self-indulgence.

After much deliberation, we landed on Marrakech. A beautiful city in Morocco which can be found on the northern coast of Africa and more specifically, sat at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. The best time to visit is between March and May and September and November. The weather was looking promising despite a few rainy days shortly before arriving. Lucky for us, we have seven days of blue skies and temperatures hitting 30ºc.

Marrakech Skyline

WHere we stayed

We landed at Menara Airport after a 3.5 hour flight from London Gatwick and were met by a friendly driver sent by our hotel. The hotel in question was called Les Cinq Djellabas, booked through Mr & Mrs Smith who position themselves as a travel club for hotel lovers through their carefully curated list of luxury boutique hotels across the world.

As the bright lights of the city slowly disappeared behind us, we took a rather bumpy ride along a dark, dusty track road but much to our relief, we soon arrived at Les Cinq Djellabas which is roughly twenty minutes drive from the Medina. The entrance to the hotel lobby is lined with lemon trees and the accomodation comprises of just 10 circular lodges dotted around the lush grounds. The staff will greet you by name and attend to your every need as if you were the only guests in the hotel. I don’t think we ever gave our room number once. I knew we were going to feel right at home here!

We had chosen one of the hotel’s deluxe suites which I highly recommend for its garden views, claw bath tub and four-poster bed. The rooms reminded me of a safari lodge in South Africa with their high ceilings, thatched roofs and dark oak features.

Les Cinq Djellabas Hotel Marrakech
Les Cinq Djellabas Hotel Marrakech
Les Cinq Djellabas Hotel

Breakfast can be set up and served outside your lodge whenever you’re ready and the rest of the day can be spent lazing by the pool with your favourite book. In my case it was Michelle Obama’s Becoming which kept me enthralled through her detailed anecdotes of life as a successful lawyer, committed mother and loving wife to Barack. I could hardly put it down!

The swimming pool sits at the centre of the tranquil gardens with its own garden lobby to seek shade and refreshments. As the hotel only had a handful of guests (adults-only, too), it gave us the perfect escape from city work life that we’d been so desperately craving after the winter months. As you can see, we even had the place to ourselves on some days!

Les Cinq Djellabas Hotel Pool
Les Cinq Djellabas
Les Cinq Djellabas
Les Cinq Djellabas Marrakech

As much as I could have whiled away our days snoozing on a sunbed, we did venture into town to get a taste of life in the red city of Marrakech. Our deal at the hotel included one free return journey into town a day which was great value considering the taxi spend we would have accumulated at other hotels. I’ll split our travels across two posts as I have a lot of recommendations but let’s talk about food, baby!

Eat & Drink

El Fenn - A refreshingly hip riad hotel with a spectacular roof terrace serving an array of cocktails and delicious food high above the red-tinged buildings of Marrakech. El Fenn is owned by art collector and entrepreneur Vanessa Branson and her business partner Howell James who made a spur of the moment decision to buy a decrepit riad in 2002 and transform it into a hotel which has flourished ever since. Make sure this is on your to-do list!

El Fenn Marrakech
El Fenn Marrakech
El Fenn Marrakech
El Fenn Marrakech
El Fenn Marrakech
El Fenn Marrakech
El Fenn Marrakech

Nomad - Spread across four floors with yet another fantastic roof terrace (can you tell I’m a sucker for a good view?!) you will find Nomad. It’s a popular spot thanks to its central location in the souk (more on this in my next post) so after a morning browsing the stalls below, make sure you have a table booked here for lunch to escape the hustle and bustle. There’s a strong emphasis on fresh local produce for its “modern Moroccan” menu that is offered at both lunch and dinner time. Cafe des Epices is Nomad’s sister restaurant which can be seen right across the market square.

Nomad Marrakech
Cafe des epices Marrakech
Nomad Marrakech
Nomad Marrakech
Nomad Marrakech

La Maison Arabe - A luxurious hotel and restaurant steeped in history serving three carefully considered menus - French, Moroccan and Asian. Its elegant style set across four courtyards one of which features a swimming pool for diners to look upon, has captured the attention of dignitaries and celebrities including Sir Winston Churchill and Jackie Kennedy.

La Maison Arabe Marrakech
La Maison Arabe Marrakech
La Maison Arabe

Limoni - Dine under the lemon trees in this quaint restaurant serving both Italian and Moroccan food. It’s quite hard to find as the entrance can easily be missed! Look up on Google in the absence of a website.

Limoni Marrakech
Limoni Marrakech

La Trattoria - Now, I’m the first to criticise when local cuisine is pushed aside in favour of other specialities but this long-standing Italian eatery was my foodie highlight of the trip. There, I said it! (There’s only so many tagines a pregnant lady can eat before the inevitable carb loading kicks in!) La Trattoria has celebrated Italian gastronomy since 1974 with beautifully prepared dishes across fish, pasta and meat. Food aside, this establishment has nailed romance in the form of its jaw-dropping setting set alight by a canopy of Moroccan brass lamps and indoor palm trees hanging over a pool with candle-lit tables dotted around it. Oh, and let’s not forget the subtle tones of a baby grand piano from the adjoining bar. Add this to your list, for sure!

La Trattoria Marrakech
La Trattoria Marrakech
La Trattoria

+61 - Spanning two continents, +61 takes its cues from the cultural diversity of Australia and blending with the vibrant flavours of the Med and Middle East. The restaurant is awash with natural light and beautifully simplistic in design. It’s a short taxi ride from the hectic scenes of the Medina which was a welcomed relief despite several taxi drivers not being able to find it!

+61 Marrakech
+61 Marrakech
+61 Marrakech
+61 Marrakech

It feels as though we barely scratched the surface when it came to Marrakech’s thriving food scene but our time was precious and we also had the added benefit of our hotel offering the most delicious tagine dishes (the chef co-owns La Foundouk in the Medina).

I must mention how incredibly wonderful the Moroccan locals are towards pregnant women. We were fast-tracked at airport security and each drive into town was taken with ease over the bumps in the road (despite me insisting on going a little faster!) The hotel staff and locals regaled us with stories of their days with a newborn and show us pictures of their children enjoying first birthdays and so on. It really was a delight and something I wasn’t entirely familiar with having been a “baby on board” badge wearer on the London underground where it’s each to their own with no special allowances. For me, this really made our decision to holiday in Morocco all the more special.

In my next post, we’ll take a trip to two historic gardens and a shopping adventure around the celebrated souks.

For regular updates on my travels and home life, follow me on Instagram at @ladyleopardblog.

Choukran!

Lady Leopard x