A Visual Journal of Marrakech, Morocco
An ancient city with a glimmering energy and allure
Marrakech isn’t for the faint-hearted, but instead a place to give in to its unexpected beauty and banter. Situated on the northern edge of the Sahara, with the snow-capped Atlas mountains framing its rich ochre stones and pink palaces, this ancient trading hub is where creativity thrives and charges the air with an intoxicating energy.
Travel photographer Erika Hobart always felt intrigued by the city’s nostalgic and yet contemporary allure. So much so that in 2020, and after many visits, she decided to make it her home, and to feel inspired by it in her day-to-day. “Whenever I go out in Marrakech, I come across something that makes me want to grab my camera,” she enthuses. A natural raconteur with an eye for detail and a zest for life, the trained journalist’s career evolved from reporting to photography in 2019 when she devoted herself to it fully. “My mantra in both my personal and work life is to be adventurous, curious, and kind, which gives my photography a warm and intimate feel to it.”
“I've lived a fairly nomadic life since childhood,” she says about relocating from London, where she resided before; Erika’s roots are Japanese and American. She praises Morocco’s second-largest city for its warm culture and community: “Moroccan people are incredibly friendly and hospitable; they're always willing to sit down over a cup of mint tea and chat.” They’re also incredibly artistic. Local artisanship is not only flourishing, it heavily relies on original practices rather than machinery and technology. Think of any object, and you’ll be likely to find someone who can craft it for you. “There's so much warmth, creativity, and resourcefulness here. It feels like anything is possible,” Erika says.
Erika’s insider guide to Marrakech
Where to Witness Local Culture
Jemaa el-Fnaa is the obvious answer, but it's also the best one. Marrakech's main square – and most important place in the Medina – is bustling with life. You’ll encounter as many visitors as locals eating, shopping, and conversing with friends.
For a glimpse into Morocco’s storied past, visit the House of Photography. Besides thousands of photos that were taken between 1870 and 1950, it also has a rooftop terrace with scenic views.
Where to Eat
You have to visit Les Trois Saveurs inside the hotel-riad La Maison Arabe for its rich history. It was the first restaurant to open to foreigners in Marrakech's Medina back in the 1940s – Winston Churchill sat alone at a corner table in the back. They serve Moroccan, French, and even Asian food; the service is incredible.
For something more local, head to Haj Boujamaa Plates, a tiny restaurant serving fantastic seafood – go and order fried fish and seafood pastillas. Their “tablecloths” are giant sheets of paper, encouraging you to eat with your hands and make a mess.
Where to Drink
Baromètre is my favourite spot for a night of mischief. Located in Gueliz, the district dubbed new city and home to many ex-pats, it’s a unique venue to experience creative cuisine and mixology. Sipping on a Martini served by one of their seasoned mixologists, you get a glimpse and feel for the cosmopolitan city Marrakech is becoming.
Where to Shop
Marrakech's industrial district Sidi Ghanem is home to myriad artist and design studios. You can buy locally-made ceramics, clothes, and even bigger things like furniture and rugs. Whenever I spend an afternoon here, I feel uniquely inspired by the creative work that's being done in this city.
Where to Escape the City
When I want to get away from the city's bustle, I love spending the night at Inara Camp in the Agafay Desert. It's less than an hour's drive from the medina. Inara means ray of light in Arabic – it's fitting because the entire camp glows at sunrise and sunset. Sleeping under the desert stars there feels otherworldly.
Erika Hobart is a photographer based in Morocco whose visuals have appeared in National Geographic, BBC Travel, and Lonely Planet, among other titles. Thanks, Erika, for showing us around your city.
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