Marrakech has a layer of modernity that sits alongside the traditional scenes of the bustling souks and historical medinas ensuring it caters to all traveler tastes.
For first time visitors, the contemporary map of Marrakech may not be your focus, while you head for the more iconic heritage places to visit. Return travelers, may find this modern side, the “new city of Marrakech” gives a fresh perspective, revealing a City that is thriving and attracting world-wide attention for art, design, travel and business development opportunities, and rising gastronomy cuisine.
The majority of the contemporary scene is centered in the not so “new” town of Gueliz, founded in 1914. This area was once the French area of the city but today those lines of distinction no longer exist. You’ll spot popular international high-street chains such as Zara, H&M and even Starbucks. Due to an increasing rise in creative and entrepreneurial development, there’s a throng of new brands and businesses popping up across the new town and medina.
Here’s a selection you might like to try depending on what you’d like to add to your travel itinerary.
The YSL Museum
The YSL Museum in Marrakech recently was awarded the “Best New Public Building” design award from the British magazine Wallpaper*. Thousands of international visitors flock weekly o snap the beauty of the architecture by Studio KO as much as the YSL permanent collection. A rotation of contemporary artists are exhibited to keep things fresh. Currently showing Noureddine Amir’s innovative fashion running until 22 April.
Musée MACMA or the Musée d’Art et de Culture à Marrakech is a surprising gem. Alongside Kaftan Queen boutique and the Yahya Gallery, it’s a peaceful art haven away from the bustle of Gueliz. Representing Moroccan artists like Hassan El Glaoui and Mahi Binebine, it offers a contrast to the traditional artisans in the medina.
33 Rue Majorelle
33 Rue Majorelle curates the best of up and coming Moroccan and international brands produced in Morocco. Pick up quirky notebooks (a rare find in Marrakech), trendy fedora hats for men and women, contemporary jewelery, clothes for women and kids, lamps for design-lovers, and gorgeous smelling natural soaps, argan oils and home scents.
SOME Slow Concept Store
SOME Slow Concept Store was founded by @casabeldi & @nomcreation, two French designers based in Marrakech. An airy sanctuary of well-curated contemporary craft, you can also shop for customizable raffia bags and satchels, and a modern twist on a classic Moroccan ceramic and glassware. On the mezzanine level, you’ll find a selection of artisana Berber rugs for the boho-chic home, and in the French-style kitchen, a range of carefully-chosen spices for the gourmet foodie. They’ve recently opened a small garden cafe, so why not take a rest under the orange trees for tea?
Kaftan Queen, founded by British designer Sarah Rouach has opened a 2nd boutique in the mellah for medina fashion lovers growing from the popularity of her flagship Gueliz store. The classic yet contemporary womenswear and accessories brand is a trusted brand on the scene. Look out for the mesmerizing street scenes viewed from the window in the new store and the vintage furniture pieces (all Instagram worthy, for sure).
Grand Cafe de la Poste
The Grand Café de la Poste still offers a contemporary, yet classic place in the Gueliz map, serving up fresh juices, or a cool beer, or choose from a wine-list that would satiate most wine-lovers. Early-evening, they have a complimentary canapés buffet if you get in quick enough!
If you’re searching for an after-shopping or evening drink, you’ll find the international and Moroccan locals popping into Kechmara, Radisson Blu Lila bar, Entrepote, Point Bar or Café du Livre too.
Caudalie spa is like a little oasis on Rue de Liberté. The staff are welcoming and knowledgeable about what range or treatment will suit your skincare needs. A welcome, luxurious beauty and spa break from shopping in the new town. Although often quiet, you’ll be free to browse without pressure.
The Moroccans beauty brand was previously sold in the Lila concept store in Gueliz, but now has it’s very own boutique at the end of Rue Yves Saint-Laurent. It specialises in organic and fair trade argan oil cosmetics. Pop in before or after you’ve queued for the YSL or Jardin Majorelle Museums.
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