rooftop-marrakech

“Before Marrakech, everything was black. This city taught me colour.” – Yves Saint Laurent.

Renowned for its bustling medina, Moorish minarets and labyrinthine souks, Marrakech is an onslaught to the senses – especially when the mercury reaches the 40s. When in need of some cooling-off time, head to these rooftop terraces for a breath of fresh air.

Zwin Zwin Boutique Hotel

Signposted only by a small and inconspicuous door, bright-blue steps lead the way to intimate interiors where an abundance of pillows in luxe fabrics and shades of turquoise beckon. Where better to watch the bustle of the Riad Zitoun Ladkin market life than lounging back on ikat-print cushions, homemade lemonade in hand? Order the café’s apple pastilla – their salted-caramel sauce is divine. Arrive just before sunset, to watch as it descends behind the palms.

Nomad

While Nomad is by far the most popular spot on this list, don’t let that put you off. Take in views that skim the medina and lead your eye out to the Atlas Mountains – best enjoyed with a glass of fresh mint tea in hand and the sounds of the nearby mosque’s call to prayer. While the views are the primary allure, the restaurant’s notable food secures it a spot on our hotlist. A small menu offers tagine and brochettes; the cumin calamari and cauliflower with fennel salads are standout plates. Postprandial, check out the small boutique, Chabi Chic, in the adjoining building for pottery worth hauling home.

Le Foundouk

A foundouk is a traditional merchant’s inn, and while many today are used as artisan workshops, this one has been stylishly reimagined as a contemporary dining den. Save this one for an evening meal in quintessentially Moroccan surrounds – think terracotta walls, aqua-tiled tables and gold accents. Rooftop tables tend to the smaller size and are perfect for tête-à-tête’s over a piping-hot tagine. Serving Moroccan-French fare worth the splurge, Le Foundouk is notoriously difficult to find. Head to Place du Moukef where an ensemble of lantern-bearing staff are on hand to guide you to the restaurant.

Maison de la Photographie

Curated by Parisian Patrick Menach and Marrakeshi Hamid Mergani, the photography museum showcases over 5000 vintage Moroccan photographs covering the 1870s through to the 1950s. The sensitively renovated building – complete with traditional Moroccan interior elements like geometric-patterned ceramic tiles, a central courtyard and archways fanning off to the various areas of the exhibit – is instant Instagram bait. Work your way upwards and once you’ve explored the museum’s three stories, the building’s roof terrace (located on the fourth floor) is ideal for a quick rejuvenation before rejoining the bustle beneath you.

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Le Jardin Secret

A secret? Perhaps not, but realistically there was no way this Moroccan oasis could be kept under wraps. Housed in a thoughtfully restored palace that dates back to the 16th century, the bountiful exotic and traditionally Islamic gardens urge visitors to explore further. After a wander through the walkways, head up to the rooftop café for a view from above. Here Marrakech’s monikers of “an oasis in the desert” and “a rose among the palms” begin to make sense.

Café Clock

After making waves in Fez, a sister Café Clock opened in Morocco. Like its counterpart, it quickly established itself as the capital’s cultural hub – a place to share stories and exchange anecdotes over delicious food. The space’s two rooftops overlooking the trendy Kasbah district are decked out with bric-a-brac furniture, stacks of books and graffiti murals, courtesy of local artists. It’s your classic artsy hangout, but unlike your standard hipster spot, Café Clock prides itself on providing access to authentic Moroccan culture through music, art and cuisine. Your evening’s agenda: jam sessions, live storytelling, calligraphy classes and patisserie lessons. Delve deeper by booking their Moroccan Culture 101 class where a local Marrakeshi or Fassi staff member will teach you all the essentials – think phrases, gestures, mealtime etiquette and religious customs.

Café de Paris, Jemaa el-Fnaa

When you think of a Moroccan rooftop, chances are what you’re imagining looks something like Café de Paris’ top-floor terrace. As quintessentially Moroccan in its colour palette as it is in its decor, stone walls, tiled tables, stained-glass Moradabad lanterns and zelige pillars in rich shades of terracotta, auburn and brown create a convivial atmosphere. Its wicker ceiling lets only a little light through, but after a day spent bargaining your way through the souks, the shade will be a welcome respite from the beating sun.

Kechmara

When harira, couscous and tagine get a bit samey, grab yourself a burger at Kechmara. With a vibe that’s more LA than Morocco,  the decor and food may be more international but the crowd remains largely Moroccan. Pass through stylish, modern interiors and head upstairs to the rooftop terrace (call ahead to check it’s open) for palm-tree-fringed scenes. As the sun sets and the music gets louder, watch as Morocco’s cool kids spill out onto the terrace as Kechmara really comes into its own.

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