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. 

Buddha Bar Marrakech - 1

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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REVIEW: Maze Restaurant, London

Crab salad at Maze Restaurant, Mayfair

One of the top restaurants in London, It’s time to review lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze Restaurant in Grosvenor Square.

From Petrus in Knightsbridge and Plane Food in Heathrow Airport, to restaurants in Vegas and Singapore, Gordon Ramsay’s empire has risen to 30 restaurants across the globe. They’ve been awarded a handful of Michelin stars, and are a must-visit for many foodies.

I was excited to return to one of my favourites – Maze Restaurant in Grosvenor Square. It’s a glamorous, gourmet restaurant in the heart of Mayfair with a varied menu of fine-dining dishes and sushi.

Maze London review - Lounge area
Maze London review – Lounge area

It was my mum’s birthday and we were an awkward party of 5 that included not only a vegetarian, but a 10-month old baby. Yes, surprise – this sophisticated restaurant welcomes babies!

Maze London – Review

We started the afternoon in the relaxed bar area enjoying the bright sunshine while sipping on prosecco and indulging in scallop canapés. The seared scallops were sandwiched between thin lime slices, creating the flavour of a deconstructed ceviche.

Scallop canapes at Maze Restaurant, Mayfair
Scallop canapes at Maze Restaurant, Mayfair
Vegetarian sushi canape at Maze Restaurant, Mayfair
Vegetarian sushi canape at Maze Restaurant, Mayfair

We were shown to our table and far from hiding us away, my baby niece was seated in a high chair at the head of the table, where she rose to the occasion and behaved impeccably for the full three hours we were there.

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REVIEW: Es Saadi Gardens and Resort, Marrakech, Morocco

Time to check out Es Saadi Gardens and Resort in Marrakech.

After an adventurous week stargazing in the Sahara, riding camels and exploring kasbahs (check out the videos), I was ready for a few days of relaxation in Marrakech. I checked into a plush suite at Es Saadi Gardens & Resort in the upmarket Hivernage neighbourhood, and enjoyed a taste of the five star lifestyle.

With huge gates, flags blowing in the wind and elaborate fountains at the entrance, this resort certainly had something to shout about! Every December, stars of the big screen descend on Marrakech for the city’s prestigious film festival, and this is one of the resorts they return to time and time again.

 Over the next 48 hours I wandered the pristine gardens, basked in the Moroccan sunshine by the pool, perused the impressive art collection and was thoroughly pampered in the spa.

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REVIEW: Grand Okan Hotel, Alanya, Turkey

Checking out the Grand Okan Hotel in Alanya.

During my recent trip to Alanya, I checked into one of the region’s most popular hotels – the Grand Okan.

I’m a firm believer that a luxury is nothing without good service. The most expensive meal can taste quite bland when there is no passion from the people serving it. Some of the best hotels in the world suffer from their stiff, impersonal ways. It makes me wonder: how difficult is it to provide warm customer service (are you listening Barcelo Solymar?)?

Grand Okan Hotel, Alanya
Grand Okan Hotel, Alanya

I checked into the Grand Okan Hotel in Alanya well after midnight. I was tired from travelling and suffering from a bit of a cold. Thankfully, I was welcomed by Amanda – the hotel’s incredibly friendly general manager. From Britain originally, she moved to Turkey over 15 years ago and lives and breathes the culture. Full of stories, charm and infectious warmth, she oversees a happy workforce who go out of their way to meet customers’ needs. It’s no wonder loyal holidaymakers return year after year.

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TOP TIP: Arrive In Style with Lake Como Transfers

Lake Como Italy

I’m ready to reveal my top tip for how to travel to Lake Como in style.

When I was researching routes from Milan Malpensa airport to Lake Como, it became clear this was a route taken regularly by people with large budgets. Yes, there are trains and buses, but they aren’t particularly direct to the main tourist towns in the centre of the lake. The simplest way to travel – by car. I decided to test out one of the transfer services on offer, to find out if it was worth splashing the cash.

I’d recommend reading my guide to travelling from Milan to Lake Como for other ways to reach the lake. Plus if you don’t want to splash the cash, be sure to check out my guide to visiting Lake Como on a budget

I booked my transfer with Lake Como Transfers – a company with an impressive set of Trip Advisor reviews. In fact, they’re rated number one of things to do in Menaggio. The email exchange with Jenny on the concierge team was friendly, and although I was booking just a few days before my trip, they had availability and my transfer was booked with ease. With everything confirmed, I was informed my driver would be waiting at the airport with a sign.

Lake Como Italy
Lake Como

I was met in arrivals around 6.30pm by Lorenzo, a young, impeccably dressed Italian holding a sign saying “Mrs Chloe”! He wore a suit and instantly reached for my luggage and wheeled it out of the terminal. He was very welcoming and spoke perfect English.

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