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    Wednesday, 13 April 2016

    MY GUIDE TO THE SIRAYANE, MARRAKECH

    It's getting to that point in the year where people are itching to book their summer holidays. I've done a couple of travel posts in the past - you might have seen my Mexico or Berlin posts so I thought I'd have another stab and tell you about another one of my favourite destinations...Marrakech! 

    Marrakech has so much to see and do but it's also the perfect place to just relax and unwind. I went with three of my girlfriends back in March last year and we had a fabulous time so I'll give you the low-down on our trip.
    So where did you stay?
    We stayed at the Sirayane Boutique Hotel and Spa, to give it it's full name, which is located just a 10 minute drive from the hustle and bustle of the main Medina in central Marrakech. Minimalist by design, the Sirayane is all about offering guests a relaxing stay in it's ultra-luxurious surroundings.
    It's the perfect get-away if you're looking for a nice relaxing break. Made up of 28 rooms and suites, the hotel is peaceful, quiet and surrounded by the beautiful landscapes that Morroco has to offer - if you squint into the distance, you might be able to make out the snowy Atlas mountains... 
    What are the rooms like? 
    We were really lucky and managed to get an upgrade into one of the hotel's mini-suites which overlooks the swimming pool. The room was spacious - not huge - but comes kitted out with all those little extras like flat screen TVs, DVD and CD player which aren't a necessity on holiday but make it feel more like a home from home - plus there's complimentary WI-FI which is always a bonus!
    The absolute stand-out feature of the mini suite though is the private garden which allows you to relax in your own little area just metres from your front door. Perfect for enjoying a cup of tea in the mornings when you wake up but aren't quite ready to get up and dressed to head over to the poolWhat is the pool like? 
    The pool is the main attraction at the hotel, with all the terracota suites built to overlook it. There's comfy black beds laid out around the edges and always someone on hand to give you a towel or take your drinks order so you can make yourself comfy and pretty much nod off the day. Like I said, relaxation really is a key theme at this hotel!
    What was the weather like?
    We came in late March and whilst it was scorching sun-bathing weather, it was definitely warm enough to sit outside in the sunshine and just relax. There was one day when we ventured out to a pool club (more details below) and it absolutely chucked down with rain but the staff are so hospitable that you won't get bored, even if you are kept indoors!

    Most importantly, what is the food like? 
    I found the food a little hit and miss in Marrakech. Moroccan food tends to come in the form of rich tagines, cous-cous and big bold spices and flavours - some of which I really enjoyed and some that I wasn't so keen on.
    There was a big emphasis on vegetarian food which I wasn't expecting, with lots of aubergine and courgette dishes on the menu but there was also a brilliant choice of steaks, fish and chicken dishes brought to life with the addition of lemon, olives and plenty of ras el hanout. 
    The endless tea is another plus point of the hotel. When you arrive, rather than linger around the check-in desk, they invite you to lounge on the sofas while they serve you tea and on any occasion you find yourself sat down, someone will appear with a pot of this wonderfully sweet, fresh mint tea - or Moroccan Whiskey as I'm told it's called!
    What else is there to do at the hotel?
    The Sirayane has a full-service spa which all guests are allowed to use. We booked in for a traditional Morroccan Hammam, which involves a body-scrub under a beautiful domed-sauna like room. Word of warning though - make sure you take on plenty of fluid beforehand as the room is very hot and I managed to pass out from dehydration! (It would only be me!)

    Did you just stay on the resort is there anything else to do?
    There's plenty to do in Marrakech. The main draw is obviously the souks in the medina which are like nothing I've ever experienced before. There were monkeys on chains, there were cobras, there were people banging drums - once night falls, it literally becomes another world! 
    There's plenty of culture to soak up in Marrakech too. You can visit the Koutoubia Mosque where you'll hear the call to pray 5 times a day, or there's the Majorelle garden, a 12 acre botanical garden owned by Yves Saint Laurent and where his ashes were scattered.
    Another place which we visited on our trip was the luxury beach club, Nikki Beach. It features three large swimming pools, tennis and squash courts and white mattress beds sprawled out so you can sunbathe whilst listening to the resident DJ.

    It didn't have the same party vibe as the one in Marbella, but we were there at the beginning of the season so I'm sure it livens up towards the peak June-August months.
    Moments after these pictures were taken, the heavens opened up and we had to head inside to the canopied area for shelter! The staff were more than happy to keep us stocked with Espresso Martinis to while away the hours untill the sun came back again though!
    Any other words of advice?
    I had a brilliant time in Marrakech but if I were to come back and really explore the city, it would be with Tom. Relaxing on the resort with the girls was lovely but I didn't enjoy being in the Medina with just a group of girls.

    There was a lot of heckling as we walked around, and while I'm not particularly phased by that, it definitely can make you feel uncomfortable once you get deeper into the souks and the sun begins to set! I found Marrakech to take on a whole new lease of life in the night-time compared to the day!

    I hope you've enjoiyed hearing about my experience in Marrakech. If you're planning to go or have been before, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

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