Welcome to my Marrakech Retreat, virtual style! I’m heading to Marrakech this weekend to visit friends and work (read: edit, cook, and eat…a.k.a. research…a.k.a. I love my job!) I’ll be traveling alone with Eula for the first time as Matt will be in London. He’ll join us after a few days, but I’m still excited/nervous to be traveling just Eula and I! I’m sure it will be fabulous and uneventful, but it’s a first. We’ll see what tips for traveling alone with a baby-toddler I can come up with. Anyway, since I’m headed there and have the Marrakech retreat on the brain, it seems as good a time as any to post a recap of the retreat I hosted here this past February with my friend and Marrakech denizen Emma Rice, mother + photographer + intrepid nomad extraordinaire—follow her for all manner of inspiration, she’s living the dream and doing so with candor. We teamed up with our friend and stylist Nicole Manfron to create some beautiful tables such as the one above at La Famille (and the awesome desert table scape after the jump), and took our guests to all the best spots. There are a loooot of photos below, but it was week long retreat—what could I do! Edit myself? Surely not! If you like what you see, be the first to hear when we announce next year’s Marrakech Retreat and hop on our retreat mailing list here!
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a recap of a retreat. But it’s such a shame to not share the whole, gorgeous story that is each Slow Living Retreat I’ve hosted over the years. So! I’ve decided to post them—thousands of languishing photos would be happy if I did! While Instagram has been good to me, I miss sharing photographs that really tell the whole story. That show the grit as well as the glam. And what better way to introduce a bit of grit back into everything than Marrakech? It’s the place where curated, intentional beauty exists quite comfortably alongside the raw, the rough, the dirty. It’s a place where I feel alive. Perspective looms around every corner. My blood pumps here, and my mind calms. I can’t really explain it, but I feel very at peace in the chaos there.
We started our retreat at one of my favorite riads in the medina, Riad Berbere. Berbere is beautifully understated when many riad’s are over the top. You can expect neutrals, a welcoming host of well loved kitties, an airy courtyard with towering banana trees (okay, I have no idea what kind of tree they are), and some of the best food in the medina. They do in house hammam & massage as well, for a song. I could never leave and be quite happy. This riad is actually why I ended up in Marrakech in the first place. My travel addiction, forever seeking something different, lighted upon Marrakech one evening. I discovered Riad Berbere online and the photos alone incited me to book our tickets that evening. And it lived up to the pictures and everything I’d built it up to be in my imagination—relaxing rooftops, reflecting pool, and rose petal strewn rooms.
Each morning our Marrakech retreat began with yoga before a day immersed in travel, photography, and food—eating lots of food. We spent the first few days of this week long retreat exploring the medina—the winding pink walled city center. It’s a labyrinth of smells, smoke, dust, and tangles of Moroccan goods. I never seem to leave without a straw bag, bread board, and a pair of simple leather sandals for me (or for Eula!) And I don’t spend over €30. On the third day we departed for Scarabeo Camp, an Agafay desert glamping site of bell tents strewn in a stark, pink landscape, barren save the odd camel. We enjoyed evening bonfires, traditional mystical Gnawa music, the company of the aforementioned camels, and true slow living. The last leg of our journey took us to the impeccable Kasbah Bab Ourika and it’s lush gardens and pools (and excellent spa, which our guests took full advantage of).
Top 10 Moments of the Marrakech Retreat (in no particular order)
- The freshest vegetarian lunch at the oasis, La Famille. Our friend and stylist, Nicole Manfron (owner of La Maison & The Secret Souk), and I styled the table with local herbs and plants suspended from the pergola, brass ornaments made by La Famille as gifts at each place setting, and plenty of locally made Beldi glass.
- Baking traditional cookies & pastries with the cooks of Riad Berbere and a trip to the local, communal oven to bake them off.
- Hammam & spa treatements at Kasbah Bab Ourika.
- Sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Atlas Mountains and breakfast in a traditional Berber tent.
- A stroll around the grounds & tea at the Beldi Country Club.
- Street food in the medina.
- Rug shopping at Soufiane Zarib’s show room.
- Desert lunch styled by Nicole & I at Camp Scarabeo.
- Sunset and mystical Gnawa music around the fire at Camp Scarabeo.
- Making friends with camels.
Make sure you check out my Marrakech Travel Guide for more wanderlust fueling travel photos + tips for where to stay, eat, and what to buy in ‘Kech! And stay tuned for an update to that guide coming soon as well as a guide to Marrakech street food guide! I think my favorite thing about the city definitely deserves it’s own dedicated post—tomato fish bread, lubia, bessara, eggy potato bread, brochette, lentils. Oh man. I’m hungry. In the mean time, follow along on instagram for my adventures this coming weekend. And keep scrolling for 1.567899999 billion photos. Exactly. Haha. And if you like what you see…feel free to pin away—that always helps us out!