From the dazzling palaces and colourful souks of Marrakech to the fertile hidden valleys of the Atlas Mountains, Morocco is one of those places that really holds you under her spell from the moment you arrive. The friendly culture, delicious local cuisine and dramatic landscapes have us returning to Morocco again and again, in fact we go so often it really feels like our second home! Yet what drew us in from the start wasn’t the just sparkling desert sands, the snow-capped mountain peaks or the coastal fortresses. No, it was all the incredible places to stay. Where else can you spend the night in an opulent riad straight out of 1001 nights? Or stay inside a luxurious hillside kasbah with private plunge pools and views to die for?
Morocco is the ultimate destination for a luxury holiday that combines culture and fine dining with mesmerising landscapes and warm hospitality. If it’s your first time in Morocco, we recommend exploring Marrakech and the nearby valleys of the Atlas Mountains. It’s a great introduction to the country, doesn’t involve much travelling time, and offers some incredibly varied experiences, all whilst staying at some of the most prestigious hotels in the country.
Travelling to Morocco for the first time can be a little daunting, and arranging transport is stressful, especially if you don’t speak much Darija or French. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate luxury holiday in Morocco and want to keep hassle to a minimum, you might want to consider booking your trip through a specialist tour operator like Original Travel, who offer personalised tailor-made trips to this incredible country. We’ve travelled both independently and on private tours around Morocco and have to say having someone else do all the organising was absolute bliss!
To get you started with some ideas of how you could spend your luxury holiday Marrakech, we’ve come up with the perfect itinerary. Even if we do say so ourselves!
Luxury Marrakech Itinerary Overview
Days 1 – 5: Marrakech
Days 5 – 7: Ourika Valley
Day 7 – 9: Imlil
Day 9: Time to head home
Day 1: Arrive in Marrakech
Fly into Marrakech Menara Airport and transfer to your hotel.
Most flights from the UK arrive into Marrakech during the evening so enjoy a relaxing dinner before heading to bed, ready for some adventures tomorrow.
Stay at La Maison Arabe for a truly luxurious experience without any of the pretensions so often found at high-end hotels. It’s superbly located on the edge of the medina (the old town), which means it’s easy to visit most of the city sights on foot. This riad-hotel is a warren of beautifully lit passageways, salons and courtyards, with a range of rooms and suites to suit every taste. There’s a stunning hammam too! Yet what really sets this place apart is the impeccable service that is both professional and friendly, not an easy balance to achieve!
Eat at Les Trois Saveurs, the enchanting poolside restaurant at La Maison Arabe serving delicious French, Asian, and of course Moroccan dishes (make sure you’ve pre-booked a table!). It’s hands down the best place we’ve ever eaten in Marrakech, and the musicians serenading diners with Arab-Andalucian lute and guitar music is just the icing on the cake. Head to the jazz bar for evening cocktails afterwards!
Day 2 – Palaces and Fortune Tellers
Discover the Palaces and Museums of Marrakech today, and don’t worry if you get a bit lost, it’s all part of the experience. There will always be someone on hand to point you back to the main square, where it’s easier to navigate from. There are a lot of sights to check out, but you won’t have time to see them all. We recommend the Musée des Confluences at Dar el Bacha and the Bahia Palace for their exquisite architecture, intricate wood carvings and beautiful zellij mosaic tile work. Also worth visiting is the splendid Medersa Ben Youseff, once the largest Islamic college in Marrakech and today a stunning display of craftsmanship and history. If you have time, pop into the Maison de la Photographie which has the most amazing old photographs of life in Morocco back in the day. We now have several of these prints hanging on our walls at home!
In the evening head down to Djemaa el Fna, the famous main square where the city really comes to life at night, with markets, fortune tellers, and dancers. It can be a bit overwhelming when you first arrive so to get your bearings, we suggest heading to Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier for a refreshing drink and front row seats to the show going on down below.
Eat at Nomad, a popular fusion restaurant in the medina not far from the square, with a terrific roof terrace and lively evening vibe. Make sure you’ve booked in advance, and don’t forget to try the famed orange cake!
Read More: Best Restaurants in Marrakech
Day 3 – Traditional Cooking Class
Your most difficult decision today will be deciding whether to have chocolate crepes or cinnamon pastries for breakfast. We recommend both, you are on holiday after all! Plus, you’ll need to keep your energy up for the morning ahead.
Something we love doing when we visit Marrakech is to take part in a cooking class, to learn more about Moroccan food and culture, and of course getting to eat the results of all our hard work! So this morning we suggest you get to grips with a tagine and learn the secret recipes behind the delicious dinners you’ve been eating this week. It’s great fun following instructions from the Dada (traditional Moroccan cook) at La Maison Arabe and discovering how food plays such a huge part of daily life here. It’s the perfect way to spend half a day. If you fancy giving cooking a go but want something a bit shorter, then try the Express Cooking School, also at La Maison Arabe, but this one only lasts an hour (plus eating time!). Did you know it’s possible to cook tagine in an hour?
Head to the souks for some afternoon shopping, and practise your haggling skills with the friendly vendors. Maybe you’ll pick up a pair of colourful babouches or some of the distinctive Moroccan crockery that you’ll see piled high around every corner you venture. When you’ve had enough of the markets, pop down to Place des Ferblantiers for a refreshing drink on the roof terrace at Kosybar. It’s a great place for watching the world go by and overlooks the crumbling walls of the Badi Palace where storks like to nest in season.
Eat at Le Trou Au Mur, a relatively recent addition to Marrakech’s dining scene, not far from Ben Youseff Medersa. Come here to try some Marrakchi classics like tride, and homemade donuts that you can inject with your own fillings! So cool.
Read More: How to Navigate the Souks in Marrakech
Day 4 – Hot Air Ballooning
Start your day off with an early morning private hot air balloon flight where you’ll float above Berber villages, wide valleys and dry wadis with the dramatic Atlas Mountains as a majestic backdrop. From up here you can really appreciate the different colours of the landscape, and it’s fun to watch the sun rise and flood the plains with light. After landing back on terra firma breakfast is served in a traditional Berber tent, before you’re transferred back to your hotel. Hot air ballooning in Marrakech is hands down one of the best things we’ve ever done in Morocco, and certainly a different way to experience the Red City!
Transfer back to the hotel, pick up your swimming stuff and a good book, and jump on La Maison Arabe’s free shuttle minibus to their stunning casbah gardens country club. Just a few minutes out of the hustle and bustle of town, this serene oasis is a truly wonderful place to kick back and relax, go for a swim and get a bite to eat at the restaurant.
Eat at La Trattoria, one of our favourite places to eat in Gueliz (the new town) thanks to its incredible pool setting and a ceiling that’s dripping with exotic Moroccan lanterns. And when the weather’s good, the roof rolls back to unveil a sky of a million stars.
Read More: Tipping in Morocco – Our Top Tips
Day 5 – Off to the Ourika Valley
After a leisurely breakfast, head south with your driver to the fertile Ourika Valley for some luxury countryside pampering and maybe a little adventure! It’s only about an hour’s drive from the city, although it feels a world away.
Stay at Kasbah Bab Ourika, possibly the most spectacularly-positioned place to stay in the entire country. Breathe in the scent of orange and lemon groves from the valley below and admire the craftsmanship behind the traditionally-constructed kasbah. There are several room categories here, but we recommend one of the infinity pool suites down at the bottom of the gardens for the ultimate luxury experience.
Explore the luxuriant gardens and admire the dazzling views of the Atlas Mountain foothills from pretty much everywhere on the property, before sipping homemade lemonade in a secret leafy spot hidden away in the grounds.
Eat at the Kasbah, the only real option in this area, which isn’t a hardship as you dine on the lantern-lit terrace beneath the clear night sky.
Day 6 – Saffron Farms & Berber Villages
Today is all about exploring the Ourika Valley, getting to know the locals and seeing a part of Morocco that few other visitors do!
Your half day private tour will stop at the local Berber market at Oftnine, where you can wander around without feeling uncomfortable or being hassled. It’s a totally different experience to Marrakech. Chat to the local farmers who have come down from the mountains to sell their goods and find out about their lives in this beautiful part of the world. Next up it’s a visit to the Nectarome Botanical Gardens, where most of the soap and shampoo found in hotels all over Morocco comes from! Stroll around the herb gardens and enjoy some mint tea with a twist in the pavilion.
Continue through the valley to the Paradis du Safran, an ecological saffron farm run by an energetic lady from Switzerland. Here you can explore the gardens, brave the barefoot trail and afterwards treat your feet to a DIY foot spa using herbs from the gardens. Before you leave, try some mint tea (you can never have enough!) flavoured with saffron, along with bread dipped in saffron cream (delicious!).
The final stop of the day is the Berber Eco Museum in Tafza, a traditional pottery village in the heart of the valley. It’s a restored kasbah full of rugs, musical instruments and pots that give a great insight into life in the mountains. The young guide is a lot of fun and speaks excellent English so it’s well worth a visit.
Read More: 25 Most Instagrammable Places in Morocco
Day 7 – Into the Mountains
Enjoy a final breakfast on the terrace before transferring with your driver to the dramatic Imlil Valley, home to Berber villages and the jumping-off point for climbing Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa. The journey takes less than two hours and travels through some truly spectacular countryside.
Stay at the uber-glamorous Kasbah Tamadot, a luxury Atlas Mountains retreat that’s part of Sir Richard Branson’s famous property collection. This kasbah is all about decadent suites, lush grounds and top-notch service! We love the secret courtyard pools filled with rose petals, and the fact that you can have a burger with your Champagne if you wish!
Spend the afternoon exploring the vast gardens, take a dip (or two) in the glorious infinity pool, or work up a sweat on the tennis court before enjoying cocktails up on the grape-draped terraces, gazing at the view. Alternatively, you can visit the open-air cinema (headphones included), stop by the Eve Branson Foundation, or take another cooking class if you enjoyed the one in Marrakech!
Eat at Kasbah Tamadot, the dining here is just one of the many attractions. Seriously some of the best food we’ve ever had in Morocco, especially the weekly Berber feast!
Day 8 – Hiking in Imlil
Lace up your boots and head off up the valley trail, following mule tracks past traditional adobe houses that cling precariously to the hillsides. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the orchards, irrigated terraces and walnut groves that surround the villages. You can go hiking alone or with a guide (which can be arranged at Kasbah Tamadot), and there are lots of trails to choose from depending on how energetic you feel. You don’t have to walk far to get fantastic views, and we recommend heading up to Armed where you can enjoy mint tea with a local family, and admire the stunning panorama.
Back down in Imlil, head to the famous Kasbah du Toubkal for lunch on their stunning ‘eagle’s nest’ terrace. You won’t find anywhere with a better view to accompany your tagine!
Head back to Kasbah Tamadot for a well-deserved traditional Moroccan hammam in the stylish spa.
Eat at the kasbah again, maybe you’ll go for the multiple course tasting menu tonight, followed by drinks in the fireside bar. The perfect end to an incredible holiday.
Day 9 – Homeward bound
Spend your last morning relaxing at the Kasbah or exploring the Imlil Valley.
Flights back to the UK are usually during the evening, so transfer directly to the airport from the Kasbah for a smooth and leisurely final day.
Once you finally get home, you can start planning your next trip to Morocco, because we know you’re going to fall in love with the place, just like we did.
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It does look amazing Heather. I see that I’m travelling with the wrong partner :). If we settle on Spain as a base, I see a trip to Morocco is a definite must. I love the way you think, “Your most difficult decision today will be deciding whether to have chocolate crepes or cinnamon pastries for breakfast. We recommend both, you are on holiday after all!” I approve of that message!
Spain is so close to Morocco it certainly would be rude not to explore 😉 Hope your house hunt is going well. I know Frank didn’t love Morocco as much as we do, but maybe that’s because he didn’t stay at places like these 🙂 (I know we wouldn’t either if we travelled full time!). If ever you need a girl friend for an indulgent weekend in Marrakech you know where I am! Oh, and there were donuts as well as the crepes and pastries…in the name of research all had to be sampled 🙂