To some, Marrakech is a labyrinth strewn with souks and wild crowds. To others, it is a gorgeous oasis with hidden sanctuaries for the seekers of rest.
Lodged at the foothills of the mythical Atlas Mountain is Marrakech, the Red City of Morocco, a labyrinth of colourful medinas, souks, hidden gardens and the majestic view of the sun-dipped desert. During the day, one is lured to the city's vibrant culture; there's the beckoning of the marketplaces, the thrill of camel-riding and the satisfaction of partaking the local gourmet. However, Marrakech's real treasures are hidden behind plain sight. As the sky glows during the sunset, and the lights brighten the still-energetic city, cast yourself away from the crowd, and rediscover the place with a whole new light in its quiet places.
Le Jardin Secret, or the Secret Garden, is just as its name implies – mysterious, magical, and marvellous. The 19th century palace captures Morocco's other side – a serene, tranquil soul set behind enclosed walls, allowing guests to take repose in its high-columned architecture. Here, bask in the view of the second floor as you gaze far-out into the city, relishing the much-needed alone time.
A visit to the eccentric private residence of Yves Saint Laurent gives you a peek of his fashionable life. Jardin Majorelle, where the stunning electric blue house is found, has also become a mecca to culture enthusiasts. Doors open, but instead of a warm host and a chaotic house party, silence ensues as you gape at the curated artefacts from the Berber tribe of North Africa. Considered as Morocco's own son, Yves Saint Laurent also has a 43,000 square foot museum devoted to his work, showcasing colourful galleries of his love, life and creations nestled across a quiet aesthetic.
At the foot of the Atlas perched an eco-resort, the Kasbah Tamadot, a luxury hotel owned by Sir Richard Branson. This splendid retreat features wide courtyards within its Mediterranean inspired structure, Berber-style tents, sunken Jacuzzis and beautifully landscaped gardens. From the farm, relish the sight of the animal herds. And then, at bed time, change into your silky pyjamas as you lie in your colourful suite embellished with antiques and modern facilities.
Dar Zellij is a romantic space on a rooftop, with rose petals whimsically scattered across the tables. It serves the best of the local gourmet; take your share as you gather around with your closest friends in its spacious dining hall. If you require a break off the Moroccan fare, which is hearty as well as spicy, proceed to La Trattoria. This Italian restaurant, other than its tomato-based menu, offers a serene atmosphere for those who seek it. Decorated with an Art Deco flair, you'd be taking dinners by candle light, allowing you to bask into the old-world serenity as you revel in your food.
A haunting yet calming place is the Saadian Tombs, which is enveloped lofty pillars and colourful Moroccan tiles. Sultan Ahmed el Mansour has imported Italian marble interlaced with gold and created mausoleums in lavish plasterwork. The sweeping complex is composed of the graves of his beloved - including his wives and several dignitaries, whom were closest to him.
The grand ruins of El Badi is still magnificent, although now only a trace of its former glory. El Badi means 'the incomparable.' The palace, dating back to the late 1570s, took two decades and a half to construct, bearing in it 350 lavish rooms and a large pool. As you look up to its splendour, find a seat on a bench, rest your feet or take off your sandals. And, in the quiet, absorb Marrakech’s sublime beauty, sung in decadent tilework, the wide blue sky, and the desert sand.