REVIEW: Buddha-Bar, Marrakech

Buddha Bar Marrakech Terrace

Time to check out Buddha-Bar Marrakech.

*DISCLAIMER: I worked on a sponsored campaign with Buddha-Bar in 2016, for which I produced video, blog and social media content about Marrakech and the restaurant. Sadly Buddha-Bar Marrakech broke their contract and only paid me for half of my work and time. After I threatened legal action, they stopped returning my emails and calls. I have left the content live, as I was proud of the work I did, but I find their behaviour utterly disrespectful, and would never return there out of principle.*

Towards the end of 2015 I spent a few weeks travelling around Morocco. While I’ve visited the country a few times before, this was more of an immersive trip – sleeping in camps in the Sahara, visiting local markets high in the Atlas Mountains, and finishing with the full Marrakech experience – snake charmers, hammams and more! I thoroughly enjoyed it and hoped it wouldn’t be long before I returned.

Cheap flights and guaranteed warm weather make Marrakech a great break from the UK, particularly for those craving winter sun. With a free weekend in January, I couldn’t resist but snap up some bargain fights and pop over for a dose of vitamin D, great food and a bit of pampering.

Buddha-Bar is Marrakech’s newest opening. As a brand, Buddha-Bar is synonymous with style, music and great Asian-inspired food. With restaurants in Paris, London, Beirut, Dubai, Sao Paulo, Kiev and many more, it was only a matter of time before Marrakech was added to its mini-empire.

Check out the video of my luxury weekend in Marrakech, or scroll down to read more about Buddha-Bar Marrakech. 

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Don’t be fooled by the name. Buddha-Bar is more than a bar, it aims to take you on a journey – through its music, décor and menu. Not just another night out, it’s longing to be a memorable experience, ideally one that you’ll choose to return to time and time again. Only a handful of brands have achieved this globally – Pacha perhaps, and high-end hotels such as the Four Seasons.

January is supposedly a low season in Marrakech, but with constant traffic, and Jamaa El Fna square as packed as ever, it wasn’t particularly noticeable.

Buddha-Bar Marrakech sits in the chic Hivernage area. L’hiver being French for winter, the district made its name as the place the wealthy French holidayed during winter. Home to the majority of the city’s top boutiques, 5 star hotels (including Es Saadi Gardens and Resort where I stayed last time), it’s the area both to see, and be seen in. With Buddha-Bar’s signature branding, latticework, lanterns and a swanky red carpet, I couldn’t WAIT to get inside – particularly with the bass of the deep house soundtrack pulsating from within.

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Surprisingly, and perhaps bravely, this is one of Marrakech’s largest restaurants. With seating for around 450, it’s an enormous space. Yet despite high ceilings and masses of seating, it doesn’t feel cavernous. Quite the opposite in fact – with its dark mood lighting, ambience and personable service, there’s a rather magical feeling of intimacy.

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Once through the enormous ornate doors, there was one person in my eyeline… Hello Buddha! Transported from Indonesia, the 4 metre high figurine sits proudly with grand illuminated staircases cascading down either side.

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The building is cleverly divided into several areas. From the main dining room, to the lounges, salons, private dining rooms, high tables and bar area. While each has its own distinct vibe, the colour scheme of blue, red, gold and black creates a feeling of unity. Oriental patterns, lush silk and plush velvet all work to create a mysterious, sophisticated restaurant.

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Moroccan Cooking Class at La Maison Arabe, Marrakech

Lunch is served at La Maison Arabe Marrakech

From tasty breads and delicious tagine, to sweet treats, this is the best cooking class in Marrakech. 

After a week exploring the Atlas Mountains, Moroccan seaside towns and the Sahara Desert, it was time to head back to Marrakech for a few days of culture and relaxation. I checked into one of the city’s top hotels – Es Saadi Gardens and Resort, but I was craving something…

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Why Visit La Mamounia Marrakech, Morocco?

Incredible pool at La Mamounia, Marrakech

What’s it really like to visit La Mamounia Marrakech – one of the city’s most famous hotels?

La Mamounia’s reputation preceded it. Before THIS epic trip around Morocco, I’d never visited Marrakech… but somehow I’d still heard of La Mamounia.

I knew this was a hotel that was constantly winning awards… “The Best Hotel In The World” (including the Conde Nast Traveller Readers Awards), “Top Hotel For Honeymoons”, “Best Spa In The World”… the list goes on.  It has one of the most photogenic swimming pools on the planet, oh and it was Winston Churchill’s favourite place to stay  in Marrakech. So when I was in town, I couldn’t wait to pop by and see what all the fuss was about!

Recently renovated, the hotel is more luxurious than ever, with plush décor, Moorish opulence and some of the best dining options Marrakech has to offer. However, beyond the rich fabrics, Instagrammable-tiled courtyards and pristine swimming pools, it’s also an oasis of calm.

When you wander through La Mamounia Hotel’s 20-acre park with its fruit trees, tall palms and brightly coloured flowers, it is easy to forget you’re in one of the world’s most hectic cities.

 

Stunning courtyard @lamamouniamarrakech… I wonder how many Moroccan tiles I can fit in my luggage?!

A photo posted by Chloë Gunning (@wanderlustchloe) on

I visited the hotel on a Saturday afternoon in November, pleased to be enjoying some warm winter sun. I took a peek in the legendary Churchill Suite which had incredible views over the gardens. I loved the melange of English style and Moroccan traditions, particularly the Chesterfield desk and distressed leather sofa with the impressive Moroccan handiwork covering the ceilings.

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Exploring Agadir and Essaouira (Not Forgetting The Goats In Trees and Jimi Hendrix!)

Travel Talk Adventure Morocco

From the vibrant city of Agadir to the white and blue of Essaouira, find out the best things to do if you’re visiting Morocco soon.

From the remoteness of the desert it was time to make our way back to the hustle and bustle, with our next stops in the cities of Agadir, Essaouira and Marrakech.

The journey towards Agadir provided the most entertaining stop so far as we reached an area of argan trees, filled with furry friends. Goats! Goats in trees! Do goats grow on trees? No…don’t be ridiculous!

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Moroccan Adventures: The Sahara Desert – Stargazing and Camel Treks

Sahara Desert Morocco

Ready to travel around the Sahara Desert with me?

So far on my Adventure Morocco tour I’ve haggled in the medina in Marrakech, reached the top of the world in the Atlas Mountains, explored a real life movie set, and drunk more mint tea than I can keep track of. This stop however, was the one I’d been looking forward to the most!

Check out the videos of my trip now, and scroll down to read about my adventures in Morocco.

Oh the Sahara Desert! Would it be like in films? Dunes for miles? The softest of sand? Stars illuminating the entire sky?

Leaving from Ouarzazate, we had some incredible scenery to check out. First up, the incredible red rock Moroccan canyon. It was spectacular, and worth the trek over uneven rocks to the top!

Travel Talk Adventure Morocco
The red canyon in Morocco

As we zigzagged along the mountain roads, the landscape changed from colourful rocks, to beige desert dotted with perfectly formed acacia trees.

Saying goodbye to the coach, it was time to hop in some 4x4s, perfect for navigating the dunes. As we continued, the dry, arid landscape, transformed… what was this? Palm trees as far as the eye could see! The Draa Valley Oasis sits along the Draa River (Morocco’s longest river) and is a haven of date-bearing palm trees, with a red rock backdrop (like a mini Ayres Rock!) A real life oasis…

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