Where to stay in Marrakech: Our neighborhood guide
Before being a city, Marrakech is a jungle of small mysterious streets which flow into much bigger Colonial vibe avenues. If you ever walk from Mohammed V Avenue to the very beginning of Medina to the Koutobia square and Place Jemaa El Fna, you’ll have a great view on the Atlas and you’ll be able to see the two souls of this city, half modern, half historical and millennial. We did it plenty of times and we enjoyed so much seeing the swirl of different people moving, each of them doing different things. Marrakech is charming, that’s a fact. But, is it safe? Where’s the best area to stay as a tourist for a week? Which one is the best neighborhood to spend a long term stay? Where should you book your hotel? After our three months in the pink city, here’s our ultimate neighborhood guide.
Neighborhood Map of Marrakech
The charming Marrakech Medina
Let’s start from the true moroccan soul of the city, the Medina. Medina is the area which represents the real life of Moroccans. Made by extremes, where riches and poors cross each other every day, where thousands of small boutiques and hotels follow each other endlessly, where you can feel like a prince in sumptuous palace or riads, where the old grandpa sells tomatoes and lemons from his garden to have a few coins to eat, where secret gardens will make you feel like in a dream. Medina is also a mirror in which you can see what are the implications of consumerism and globalization. In fact, beside a few shops selling authentic handcraft made in Morocco, you’ll find countless business selling made in China goods. The main part of Medina is becoming a theme park for mass tourists who want to buy souvenirs, and Moroccans love this: ever heard about scams in Marrakech? Most of the riads or palace with pool, rooms and luxury hotels for tourists are located here and owned by rich businessmen, while the Moroccan waiters who work there come most of the time from isolated and very poor areas of Morocco. So while guests pay exorbitant amounts to stay there, Riad’s employees are paid only 200€ per month. But once again, Medina is not only a great neighborhood, it is an experience that will make you come back home different. That’s why, if you are going to Marrakesh for a short period, Medina should be the neighborhood where you should book your riad or hotel.
Why choose the Medina neighborhood?
Medina represents Morocco at 100%. It’s a concept you’ll never find in Europe or the US. It’s like having an historical center to the square. Moreover, it’s the only place where you’ll be able to live in an old riad or palace (consciously chosen, of course) with a pool and every comfort you can imagine. We advice you just to sit in a terrace, sip your mint tea and see people walking in front of you: we’re sure you’ll fall in love with the vibe of the city. Here you’ll be able to stay in hostel as well as luxury hotels with spa, isn’t it a dream? Moreover, you will not struggle to join Medina: you will just have to take a cab at the airport and in less than 15 minutes you’ll be there. You should choose Medina if you’ll stay for a short period of time in Marrakesh, if you want to go to typical events and attractions, if you’re searching for something exotic, if you’re ready to be stormed every time you go out on the street, if you’re ready to merge into a traditional environment.
“The Koutoubia Mosque”
“Get Lost In The Medina”
Gueliz, Marrakech modern side
The second most famous neighborhood in the city is Gueliz, a recent area that was created almost 100 years ago just outside Medina, exactly on its left. Here churches and synagogues coexist in the same neighborhood. On the corner with Boulevard Zerktouni, two great emblematic cafes of the city date from the colonial era: les Négociants and the Renaissance. Here you’ll be able to drink a not so good mint tea, surrounded by men smoking cigars and discussing business in Arabic. If you’re an architecture fan like Alessia, walk around and admire the now decaying colonial buildings: you’ll feel like in an old French movie and you’ll lose track of the hours.
“From The Boutiques' Lush”
“To The Misery”
Why choose Gueliz area?
Gueliz is the perfect area to live in Marrakesh. It is the meeting point between East and West, where Zara and street vendors are in constant competition. Here are the most beautiful Airbnbs and luxury hotel rooms in town, in fact you’ll be able to rent a stylish apartment with a pool or a private room with less than 1000€. A lot of great spa with a pool are as well in the neighborhood, as well as our favorite restaurants. It’s also the best deal if you want to be close to the airport. If you’re looking into a hostel, then you should focus your research on Medina or other Moroccan towns. Otherwise, if you’re searching for a compromise between Europe and Africa, don’t forget to check Gueliz out.
Semlalia, the area we choose for our long-term stay
After countless hours searching on airbnb.com for apartments, rooms and hotels, we found a pearl in the heart of Semlalia. Our accomodation was a private room with a bathroom in a house of a French landscape architect. Useless to say that the house had an amazing style and the company of the owner Kevin adorable. We really recommend you to check the availability of this place if you’re searching for an exceptional accommodation, better than many luxury hotels in town. We loved to work in its courtyard. In this neighborhood animated especially by the universities and the hospital, you’ll find a more residencial atmosphere. Just 10 minutes by walk from Mohammed V Avenue, you can easily join Gueliz and the main restaurant. Sounds like a good deal, isn’t it?
“Such A Lovely And Quite Neighborhood”
“Small Shops All Around”
Why choose Semlalia neighborhood?
Even though there are no many reviews about Semlalia, book your hotel or room here if you want to be in a safe and calm neighborhood. Many luxury hotel rooms or apartments with pool are located here and you’ll be able to book them spending less than in Gueliz, but being a few steps away from it. Moreover, here you’ll not struggle with hotels availability, since many tourists choose more popular neighborhoods. If you’re more into hostel, here you wouldn’t find many of them, so we advise you Medina neighborhood for them. Many local Moroccan style restaurant and cafes with terrace are in this neighborhood and you’ll be able to eat some great food for less than 5 € per two persons. Psst, don’t forget to check our article about our favorite restaurants in Marrakesh. In any case, we can say Semlalia is definitely the best deal if you’re traveling long term on a budget!
Upgrade Your Stay: Our Favorite Upcoming Experiences in Morocco
Dangerous areas to avoid in Marrakech
We hope your ideas are clearer after reading this article and remember we’re very happy to reply to your messages and questions. So, if you’re still undecided about the neighborhood you’ll stay in Marrakech, leave us a comment below, contact us through our email or on our Instagram and check the rest of our articles about Marrakech. Cheers!
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