Marrakech and Essaouira - Our Favorite Moroccan Destinations for Design Inspiration!

This February we traveled once again to one of our true loves for design inspiration, Marrakech, Morocco.  
Labyrinth lanes laid out behind the towering walls of the old city hide thousands of shops overflowing with treasures, artisan workshops, antique hoards, fabulous restaurants, and countless beautiful riads  - many of which have been turned into bewitching guest houses.
One never knows what lays beyond studded cedar doors along the twisting alleyways...
Antiques in a favorite haunt in the flea markets
Me captured by my husband Doug at Dar el Bacha Museum - definitely go to Bacha Coffee tucked into this old palace first thing when they open for the best pour over and Chantilly cream in the city!
Beads from Mali and beyond
Beautiful Berber doors at Bliss Spa across from the Jardin Secret in the medina - we have a few pairs of these right now at TDL, including a 10 foot tall pair very similar to these!
Doug under a cloud of lovely lanterns
One of the fondouks where we source architectural salvage and old pots. 
These fondouks were originally stables and simple bunk rooms for travelers coming to Marrakech from the surrounding deserts.  There would be stalls for horses and camels, and sleeping areas and communal kitchens for traders to stay.
Ancient doors in the fleas
Berber pots - we can never have enough!  We have a few left from our last shipment and more on the way.
The lovely bar at Les Jardins du Lotus - great spot for brunch or dinner - we always leave before it gets crowded - but it's supposed to be a lively night spot.
Some of the vintage Berber baskets we have coming this autumn
Off to dinner!
We had a tour of the famous El Fenn - it really is gorgeous.  Vanessa Branson - Richard Branson's sister started this hotel back in 2004 after combining many smaller riads into one stunning guest house.  Since then it has grown in size and fame and hosts a who's who of tastemakers yearly.  It has a great view on the roof of the Koutoubia and beautiful gardens and pools.
Lunch on the roof is divine!
But it's the courtyards that are the real magic!
I mean - wow - original jeps carved plaster - fruit trees - lanterns and hammocks - yes please.
This bedroom with its turquoise tadelakt (a multistep layered and polished plaster technique native to Morocco) is a glowing jewel.
We finished up our work in Marrakech and then took the three hour drive to the beautiful seaside city of Essaouira.  Shown above - simple tin lanterns being lit in the Jemaa el Fna.
Essaouira is famous for its blue doors and charming fishing village vibes.
We stayed at a lovely little hotel called Villa Maroc - it has many sweet rooms scattered over its three floors, and a pretty rooftop where everyone has breakfast with views of the sea in the distance.  This little seating alcove was a favorite.  
One of our favorite shops in all of Morocco is in Essaouira - Galerie Jama is akin to being able to shop in your favorite museum.  The charming owner is an absolute expert on Moroccan antiques and has a lovely library to help teach his clients about the history of every item in his collection.  It is a must stop! 
While his antiques are sadly out of TDL's budget - we always stock up on vintage kilim pillows from the Atlas Mountains when we visit.  We have a few of these beauties at TDL right now!
At our favorite restaurant in Essaouira - Dar Baba - great cocktails and delish dinner choices and they play the best music each night. 
The view to a lane in Essaouira through the curlicues of a window in our bedroom.
Essaouira is a great place to walk along the windy seaside boardwalk.  Camels are always assembled at the far end of the beach where a cluster of little wine bars await.  Have a few dirham in hand and you can take photos - or go for a little beach camel ride if you wish!
Fantastic camel photo by Douglas Blum.
Thank you for coming along on this little travelog - Morocco will always have our hearts.  We starting going on buying trips to Marrakech way back in 1996 and have been going yearly since.  We even made it in 2020 when things were so strange and closed - you can read about it here in my blog post from that time - it was so surreal.  It has been wonderful on our last two trips to see tourism rebound and know that all of our friends and vendors are busy again!


Lovely blog! The pictures, with captions, are well done and very enticing.

Barbara Joy May 27, 2023

Your photos are simply stunning!!
It’s been my dream for years to go to Morocco!
And finally we have booked arriving for a 10 day tour starting in Marrakech, I hope it’s long enough 🙏
Have just screenshot those gorgeous bars and restaurants you went to!
Thanks for the information.
Regards Donna from Western Australian.

Donna May 27, 2023
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