Save the date: 5th Edition of the Marrakech Biennale

Biennale emblem, Marrakech
There’s no better way to get a handle on visual art, cinema and video, literature, performing art and architecture than to get involved with the Marrakech Biennale. Under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and attracting an international and local audience, the fifth edition of Marrakech’s Biennale asks “Where are we now?” This theme explores where Marrakech finds itself in relation to Morocco and Africa; as well as looking at its deep connections – via history, economy, culture and the media – with the Middle East, Europe, Americas and Asia.

Set to launch on February 26th, 2014, the event promises to bring together local, regional and international audiences in order to examine this key question.

As well as several curated projects, smaller, fringe projects will pop up across the city during the event. Past participants have included musicians like Coco Rosie, writers like Ben Okri and prize-winning director Faouzi Bensaidi. All in all, we think it’s a particularly great time to be in Marrakech.

To buy tickets: VIP tickets, the Friends of the Biennale and the MB Patrons Packages, are now online. Tickets are limited.

Day passes and week passes will be available from the box office beginning February 1st, 2014.

More information here:

Flying High – Maroc Montgolfiere

Ballooning in Marrakech

Seeing Marrakech, and Morocco, from the ground is one thing, but imagine the scene from up above. A hot air balloon ride, early in the morning – preferably at sunrise – is the perfect way to witness the panorama of the Atlas Mountains, the ochre walls of the city and the winding medina. For 27 years, Maroc Montgolfiere has been offering scenic flights which highlight perfectly the contrast between city and countryside. The whole experience lasts around four hours and begins with a pick-up from the riad. Guests are then driven in a 4×4 to the take-off position, which is located around 25 miles north of the Palmeraie area of Marrakech, in a typical Moroccan village.

Expectations rise as the balloon is inflated and then there are plenty of magical moments as take-off begins. For around an hour the views open up and the colours of the city, surrounding region and the bright blue sky allow for great photographic opportunities.

Afterwards, there’s time to relax and enjoy a local breakfast at a villager’s home before a transfer back. We thoroughly recommend this experience, it gives a useful perspective on the local geography and the balloon voyage promises to remain with you long after you land.

For more information, see

What to expect from a hammam

 Having a hammam in Marrakesh

spa in marrakesh_riad in Marrakech_riad sapphire
Riad Sapphire’s private hammam in our spa area

We offer our guests the chance to experience a ‘hammam’ when they stay with us, but some admit that they’re a little unsure about what to expect. So, what exactly is a hammam?

‘Hammam’ literally means ‘spreader of warmth’ and most experiences follow a similar course. Usually, in a cavernous steam room, traditional Moroccan black soap is applied, followed by an exfoliating body paste and scrub with a ‘kessa’ glove. The steam gently helps skin to absorb the oils and medicinal properties and afterwards it is traditional to take some time out post-treatment with some Moroccan mint tea. It is a ritual, as much as a way of promoting healthy, glowing skin.

black soap used in hammam

If you’re keen to take a souvenir of the hammam experience home with you, nowadays there is an abundance of good Moroccan-made spa products to choose from. We like ethical brands Natus and Nectarome but also marocMaroc are great and Les Sens de Marrakech work in collaboration with French perfumers Grasse to make their very special products.

Or, to experience a truly traditional hammam, drop into Hammam El Bacha (no phone, website. 20 Rue Fatima Zohra), which with its 20ft high cupola, is one of the most famous, and historic, hammams in town.

Riad Sapphire and Spa has its own private hammam and spa area.  We often have spa packages for guests, so keep an eye on our website for special offers.

And, lastly, we’ve got lots of information about ‘having a hammam’ on our blog, take a look here:

Ecomusée Berbere de l’Ourika, day trip from Marrakech

Ecomusee, berber village, near Marrakesh

Berber culture is all the rage nowadays. You may have been to the wonderful Maison de la Photographie (46 Ahal Fès; 212-524-385-721; already, but have you visited its sister site, the Ecomusée Berbere de l’Ourika? This quirky little museum lies 37km outside of Marrakech – making it ideal for an afternoon excursion- and its main mission is to explain to visitors what life is like in a traditional Berber village.

The museum is located in the Ourika valley, in the small village of Tafza, and it is home to an interesting collection of different artefacts, ranging from pottery and carpets to ancient jewellery and classic travel photography. Perhaps best of all is the opportunity to view some fascinating early footage shot in the high Atlas by film director Daniel Chicault. We think this is an important collection that is key in preserving and promoting this ancient culture. A ‘must-visit’ on your next adventure to Morocco!

Vilage de Tafza, Route de l’Ourika +212-524-385-721

Cinema le Colisee in Marrakech

Cinema Le Colisee, in Marrakech

Hands-down the smartest, comfiest cinema in town, Le Colisée has decent large screens, great sound and draws a mixed Moroccan and expat crowd. Films are sometimes in the original language (including English) and are subtitled in French, although there is sometimes the odd dubbed film too. Many of the big blockbuster movies make it here and the schedule ranges from Arabic films to Hollywood and Bollywood screenings.

Red ropes add a touch of glamour and for those who are keen to experience a slice of modern Moroccan life, or to see how cinema-going is similar but slightly different to at home, a Saturday afternoon at the movies makes for a good insight.

Also, this little cinema has somehow managed to fight off the threats of closure that came about after the arrival of the huge multiplex just outside of town – which is even more of a reason to go.

Blvd Mohammed Zerktouni Guéliz nr Rue Mohammed el-Beqal, Marrakesh



Maison Tiskiwin in Marrakech

Maison Tiskiwin in Marrakesh

If magical Morocco has motivated you to travel on, perhaps deep into the Sahara Desert, or even to Timbuktu, then don’t miss the chance to indulge your itchy feet at Maison Tiskiwin. This very special private art collection, or small museum, showcases Moroccan and African indigenous crafts, from Tuareg leather camel saddles to antique carpets.

Owned by Dutch anthropologist Bert Flint, who has resided in Marrakech since the 1950’s, this tiny space has a homely feel to it with traditional décor and the occasional smell of delicious home-cooked food. The exhibitions are easy enough to follow and are arranged geographically by Flint who manages the museum himself. If you’re keen, there is also commentary available in multiple languages.

We ought to say too that we think this museum should come with a warning ‘might inspire serious wanderlust!’

Tucked between the Bahia and Dar Si Said Palaces: 8 Rue de la Bahia, opening hours: 9.30am-12.30pm & 3-5.30pm.

Save the Date – TEDx

Ted talks, Marrakesh

We are pleased to announce that on September 20th and 21st the third TEDxMarrakech will be take place. Organised by Richard Branson’s sister, Vanessa Branson, and Andrea Kolb, this exciting two-day event includes a Friday night dinner and cocktail at Ana Yela, a whole day of stimulating and exciting talks on the Saturday and lunch by the Riad el-Fenn pool.

The theme is ‘Driving Forces’, so expect plenty of insight, wit and intelligence from the likes of Eric Van Hove (conceptual artist), Yossef Ben-Meir (Founder and President of the High Atlas Foundation), Gary Martin (Director of the Global Diversity Foundation) and Mariana Bozesan (Official Member of the Club of Rome), amongst others.

Topics to be discussed will all focus on the ‘driving forces’ theme, which might mean talking about social injustice, climate change and fear of the unknown, or art, architecture and design. As with all TED talks, there will be wit and analysis and the opportunity to meet like-minded people.

Tickets are on a first come, first serve basis and cost 700 MAD (70 Euros) for the TEDx conference on Saturday 9am-5pm or 800 MAD (80 Euros) for the full weekend (Friday reception, Saturday evening soiree).

In a nutshell, here’s what you can expect:

  • Open-minded discussions
  • In one of the most historic places in the world: The Medina of Marrakesh
  • 100 carefully selected guests
  • 10 mind blowing, inspiring speakers

Follow this link for more information: or email Alia Radman at

SPANA’s 90th Year

Spana, donkey charity, Marrakesh, MoroccoYou have probably noticed the odd donkey or two as you made your way through the souk, or maybe you spotted a dog or cat as you did your shopping. Marrakech is home to many animals. As in many countries, some are better looked after than others. We are constantly impressed with the good work that SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals and Nature) does in Morocco and elsewhere around the world.

This year is the 90th anniversary of SPANA. The society has been active in Morocco since 1925 and does more in this country, than any other. In fact, the Moroccan association, whose Honorary President is HRH Princess Lalla Asmaa, not only has a veterinary clinic in Marrakech, but also in Casablanca, Chemaia, Frei, Khemisset, Khenifra, Marrakech, Midelt, Rabat, Tangier and Sidi Bou Ghaba . Here are a few facts about SPANA’s contribution to the welfare of animals in Morocco over the years (and there is a dedicated Moroccan website, here:

  • Ten veterinary centres
  • Five mobile clinics
  • 116,000 animals treated each year
  • Nine education centres
  • 20,000 children taught

To donate, please follow this link:

Or watch some of the great videos and web-cams about SPANA’s work here: