Above: The spa lobby at Royal Mansour

Magnificent Marrakech and Its Showpiece Hotel

Although Marrakech has outgrown its crenellated pink ramparts and the numerous flights into its gleaming international airport make the city easily accessible from the rest of the world, you only have to turn a corner in the medina to find scenes of local life unchanged in centuries: a baker standing before an ancient wood-fired oven; a craftsman beating brass with a wooden mallet; a dyer with stained hands working beneath gaudy skeins of silk.

The thought of a vacation in Marrakech can be daunting to some travelers. Most guidebooks offer hard-to-follow advice about how to bargain and what seemingly ubiquitous scams to avoid, needlessly worrying readers who are perhaps already anxious about visiting a Muslim-majority country. But as one Berber guide put it, “This is the Maghreb, not the Middle East.”

The call of the muezzin floats over Marrakech five times a day, and consuming alcohol in public is forbidden, but numerous restaurants serve drinks, and Morocco even has a surprisingly high-quality wine industry. During our trip, bacon appeared more than once at breakfast. And several of my guides referred to Morocco’s rich Jewish history with pride.

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