Now I realise that Marrakesh may not be an obvious choice for a family holiday, but the magical Moroccan city is full of treasures that will capture the imagination of children of all ages. It has a ‘far away’, exotic feel of another world, with lots to see, smell and explore.
We chose Marrakesh as a family holiday destination due to the very manageable three-hour flight and guaranteed sunshine (most of year). It’s also been on my travel bucket list for years and as I was celebrating my big 40, it felt like the right time to go. After all, you want to do something special on your big birthday and exploring a new country, while staying in an villa that resembles paradise – sounded pretty good to me! To make it extra special my parents came with us to help celebrate my big day.
Luckily we struck gold with a beautiful villa, which I found on AirBnB. Casa Gyla had a magical charm, that struck us as soon as we stepped inside the building. The large villa sleeps 16, so we had more than enough space to spread out and enjoy the beautifully decorated white and turquoise blue villa.
Casa Gyla exudes Moroccan glamour and luxury but as it’s has been designed to be a true Moroccan home from home, it never felt uncomfortable or ‘too posh’ for the kids. Outside there was a large, luxurious pool set within four archers of tropical gardens, which meant the girls had more than enough space to run around and play. Also, I’ve never heard so many birds singing in the trees – and honestly the pretty floral smells from the roses and other colourful flowers filled the air inside and out.
Of course, we did also venture outside the wall garden of our villa (difficult as it was to leave) to enjoy some of the treasures on offer in and round the famous red city of Marrakesh.
For example, no visit to Marrakesh is complete without a visit to the souks. The city is famous for its rich markets, selling everything from woven baskets, brightly coloured rugs and ornate tiles, to name a few. Yes, it is chaotic (be prepared) but it also has a distinctive Morocco charm that was an eye-opening adventure for the kids. I was a little worried about taking the girls at first, thinking it might be too intimidating, but they loved the crazy vibe, exotic smells and vibrant colours. It was definitely a life experience that will stay with them for years to come. Would I take them to the souks again? Probably not for a few years if I’m being completely honest but I’m glad they got to experience the culture and feel of the city, as it’s very different and of course educational.
A guide to Marrakech with kids
Here are a few other things we did and recommend…
The Yves Saint Laurent Museum & Majorelle Gardens: A truly peaceful oasis in the middle of a pretty crazy city. The vibrant colours of the house and tropical garden are a must see, especially if you (like me) are a fan of the legendary YSL.
Anima Garden by world famous artist Andre Heller: This is another sub-tropical garden that’s full of brightly coloured art installations, which were a feast for the eyes. Our kids loved it here.
The Atlas Mountains: A day trip to the Atlas Mountains will be an eye opener in more ways than one. We booked a private driver for the day who took us to a traditional Berber house and a small Argan Oil ‘factory’ where the nuts were all milled and pressed by hand. We also had the most amazing lunch on the river bed with the glorious mountains as a dramatic backdrop.
Terrasses des Epices: Lunch or dinner at this restaurant above the spice souks is another must. They offer a brilliant selection of food for children – and you must try their famous chocolate dessert, it was out of this world!
Le Jardin: This is another beautiful restaurant that’s a calming oasis in the middle of the mayhem. Book in advance though as this popular spot gets busy, especially at night – due to its delicious food and gorgeous surroundings.
Have you ever been to Marrakech? I’d love to hear your thoughts – and please let me know if you’re planning a trip and have any questions.