© Rhonda Carrier - Hot-air ballooning near Marrakech with Ciel d’Afrique

A Marrakech City Break with Kids, Morocco

By Rhonda Carrier

Over our three days in Marrakech, we do all the things any self-respecting tourist does. We drink spiced tea from the famous stall in Djemaa el Fnaa in the evening. We get our fingers sticky feasting on sweet pastries in buzzing cafes surrounded by gnarled, shisha-smoking men. And we haggle for harissa, ras el hanout and saffron in spice shops pulsing with colours and delicious aromas. In other words, we embrace the clichés.

We’re visiting this once-imperial North African city for the first time, but we came knowing just what to expect: it’s all recognisable from a thousand and more Instagram posts. Yet though the Arabian Nights fairytale side of Marrakech has become so very familiar, the place is no less spellbinding for that.

'Floating in a hot-air-balloon over Berber villages, farms, oases and gorges as the sun rises over the mountains, we feel quite literally untethered from the earth and all its troubles.'

We give in to the cheerful clamour of Djemaa el Fnaa, the busiest square and marketplace in all Africa. We get enjoyably, thrillingly lost amidst the sinuous alleyways of the medina’s main souk, alive with the cries of traders calling out their wares ranging from carpets to traditional babouche slippers, and we happen upon cute courtyard tea rooms in atmospheric riads, headily scented by the jasmine flowers and orange trees that bloom everywhere.

And along the way we eat until we’re fit to pop: b’stilla (a pie with pigeon meat, almond and eggs), méchoui (smoke-roasted leg of lamb), kefta mkaouara (meatball and egg stew) and snail soup are just some of the dishes that make Marrakech such a hit with foodie travellers.

Marrakech, we discover, is sensory overload at every turn. Intoxicated by our feeling of freedom after Covid cabin fever, we stroll around more or less aimlessly, taking in the medina, the mosques, the palaces, the lush gardens – the Jardins Majorelle restored by Yves Saint-Laurent stand out for the bold cobalt blue used in many of their pots, pillars, tiles and water features, but there are gardens to roam around on seemingly every corner. 

Once barred to Europeans unless given express permission by the Sultan, Marrakech was rendered accessible – and chic – by French colonisation. After World War, everyone from Winston Churchill to US beat writer Allen Ginsberg and rockers The Rolling Stones flocked here to experience its enticements.  And since then its popularity has only grown, largely as a city-break destination thanks to short, frequent and inexpensive flights from the UK, the proximity of the airport to the city centre (less than 5km), and the guaranteed warmth. 

Four Seasons Marrakech

Breakfast terrace at the Four Seasons Marrakech

We spend a sybaritic couple of nights at the Four Seasons Marrakech, a haven of calm in this often-hectic city by virtue of its vast grounds dotted with lime, orange and olive trees and festooned with colourful flowers. My offspring are too old for the kids’ club (there are teen activities too), but I sneak a peak at it on my way to the spa and it’s one of the best I’ve seen in all my travels to family-friendly hotels.

The hotel has also seen the addition of Four Seasons Private Residences as part of M Avenue, a new 0.5km ‘garden avenue’ built next to the hotel and also featuring Christiano Ronaldo’s Pestana CR7 hotel and an array of shops, restaurants, cafés and art galleries.

But our most treasured memory of our time in Marrakech takes place about 40 minutes north of the city, where we float in a hot-air balloon over Berber villages, farms, oases and gorges as the sun rises over the mountains. Up in the air, our nervousness gives way to an almost unearthly sense of peace and timelessness – to a feeling of being quite literally untethered from the earth and all its troubles.

Find out more about Morocco family holidays or call one of our agents now on 0203 633 0653 and let us book you the tailor-made Marrakech break of your dreams. Think about combining a Marrakech city break with a stay in a luxury desert camp or a beach break in Essaouira.

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