Mixing It Up… in Marrakech

La Mamounia
Bar L'Italien at La Mamounia

Mark Ludmon is Morocco bound to check out the bars of Marrakech

When Sex and the City 2 was released this summer, Marrakech was put under the glamour spotlight as a location stand-in for Abu Dhabi, helping to boost visitor numbers further since EasyJet opened up a route from London four years ago.

While filming in Marrakech, the movie’s stars natrually stayed at the luxurious La Mamounia, which reopened last year after a three-year £100million refurbishment. This Art Deco building has welcomed the rich and famous since it was built in 1923, including Winston Churchill. Its Bar Churchill is named after him and, with its leather and wood panelling, is one of the few parts of the hotel that has undergone little change.

Along with its Bar Italien, La Mamounia is the best place in Marrakech for classic cocktails, although they do not come cheap, costing £15 to £18 each. And dress “elegantly”: we were nearly refused entry in our T-shirts even though it was a hot afternoon.

Terrasses des epices (c) Suzanne Porter
Terrasse des epices

La Mamounia is outside the ancient city, the Medina, in the new-town areas such as Guéliz and Hivernage built up during the French protectorate in the early 20th century. This is where the more modern bars can be found, including Le Comptoir, the late-night Ibiza-style club Palais Jad Mahal, the glamorous Le Blokk and the landmark Grand Café de la Poste.

In the Medina, alcohol cannot be drunk openly so must be enjoyed discreetly indoors or on the terraces of riads or cafés. One of these is Café Arabe, on the edge of the bustling souks, where wine and cocktails can be enjoyed in its restaurant or rooftop terrace. In the heart of the souks are the long-established Café des Epices and its funky younger sister, the Terrasse des épices. While alcohol is off the menu, sipping a cup of mint tea on the rooftop terrace as the sun goes down is an essential Marrakech experience.

Originally published July 2010

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