Five sensational days in Marrakech, taking in the culture, colours, sights, smells and sounds of Morroco. A sensory delight and colour lover's dream.
Early February 2020, I was so lucky to be part of an interior design retreat in Marrakech with interior guru's Sophie Robinson and Kate Watson-Smyth. Staying at the most gorgeous and famously instagrammed hotel, El-Fenn. It was the perfect setting where I met other like-minded interior loving people, learnt loads and took home many incredible memories.
The restaurant at El Fenn Hotel, where the combination of colour, texture and pattern is a feast for your eyes, situated on the rooftop of the hotel.
This was just one of the gorgeous daydreaming corridors in the hotel, it was outside my bedroom, I would sit and take a break on the yellow sofa and be in pink rug and green tile heaven, listening to the birds sing.
Every bedroom is unique at El Fenn, I had a red leather-clad wall bedroom, with a red-tiled bathroom and pink Tadelakt (waterproof plaster) bath. It was a 'wow' room and certainly tested my colour psychology skills out!
On my first night, I had to pinch myself to check I wasn't dreaming, I sipped gin fizz cocktails, listened to the evening prayer around the city and ate mouth-watering salads with my new interior retreat friends, whilst we looked out across the rooftops to the temple at dusk from the restaurant at El Fenn.
As we headed out in the morning with a guide to visit the souks in the medina, I was enveloped by the soft peachy pink terracotta walls of the old city.
You quickly adjusted to the narrow lanes of the souk, no cars, men with carts and many motorcycles. The stalls with eager sellers, your eyes dart in every direction. Leather pouffes and slippers, woven baskets, glassware, ceramics and beautiful lanterns to name but a few. This was where you would 'haggle' for your purchases, I was hopeless at it and grateful to be in a group of savvy women to help get a fair price.
We were taken off the main streets to the local artisan shops where we found more traditional crafts.
My eyes were transfixed as we entered the small co-operative pharmacy. Herbs, spices, remedies and for me the most exciting, pure pigment colours. I bought every colour they had!
The vibrant baskets of dried flowers and herbs kept catching my eyes.
No trip to the medina is made without a visit to a rug store, we visited the stunning Bazar Du Sud. We were taught the story of each rug design, from the tightness of the knots to the colours and patterns representing each region in Morocco.
I was tempted by this beautiful Berber rug.....
Authentic ceramics, in green and ochre glazes, dazzle in the sun.
We made a quick trip to visit The Yves Saint Laurent inspired 'Jadin Majorelle' garden. The Traditional indigo blue pigment paint of the building was mesmerising.
In contrast to the colours of El Fenn and the Souks, we were taken out of the city for about half an hour to Berber Lodge hotel, on The Conde Nast's hotlist. Peace and tranquillity paired back charm and simple traditional craftsmanship.
Just one of the many rooms with a view, while you get lost in your thoughts.
Kate and Sophie, every morning hosted a workshop for us sharing their interior design tips on colour, pattern and design. Between them a wealth of experience, a lot of banter and many giggles all round. Not forgetting Megan the social and events manager at El Fenn, who kept us all moving, eating and laughing whilst we took it all in.
We were also lucky during our stay at El Fenn to have both Willem Smit (hotel designer) and Howell James (part-owner with Vanessa Branson) on hand to tell the story explaining the history of how El Fenn came about. Willem took us around the hotel and shared his design secrets, we learnt how he mixes the traditional craftsmanship with the materials and colours of Morroco along with a love for mid-century furniture to create each unique bedroom.
I soaked up all I could and as if in a blink of an eye my treat of five colour filled days in Marrakech was over.
I'll be back Morroco!