If you’re still reeling from the first installment of our new “Passport to” series, buckle up. Today’s adventure has us globetrotting to Morocco, famous for… well, a lot. Between the architecture, the beaches, the cuisine and the textiles, we can’t count all the reasons why this exotic country has been at the top of our must-visit list for years. Lucky for us, jetsetter Candice DePrang Boehm of Oh! Fox Creative recently travelled to the mesmerizing locale, and with photographer Molly Winters by her side, got the scoop on how to plan the perfect Moroccan escape. Take it away, Candice!
I traveled to Morocco for the first time as an extension of my honeymoon to assist on a shoot with Raven+Lily. Long time friends live there as well, so it couldn’t have been a better mix of business and the ultimate vacay. So when the Moroccan Ministry of Artisans and Casablanca Living invited me back to explore their best makers, I couldn’t say no. We gathered a team of designers, buyers, and photographers to see first hand how the country’s textiles, leather, and ceramics were made. Our team stayed in the very best hotels at night and spent time with artisan makers during the day at art schools and co-ops. Of course, the souks or markets weren’t to be missed. Here are just a handful of the must–see places in Morocco…
*photography by Molly Winters
To better understand the Moroccan culture, we began the trip with a visit to the Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco.
It’s built half on land and half over the water, which is equally symbolic and stunning.
While the mosque takes your breath away from a distance, it’s the details up close that fascinated me – this wall is hand carved and painted by artists who spent their entire lives training to work on just this spiritual space.
We wandered back down to the coast to soak in everything we had seen at the art school. The coast was how would you say? tranquilly beautiful… which is true of the everyday sites and scenes all over Morocco. Can you spot the brave swimmers in this snap? I was surprised to see some young men just hop right in!
The first few nights we stayed at Hotel La Tour Hassan in Rabat, Morocco’s capital. It’s a five-star hotel with mind-blowing Moorish architecture.
La Tour Hassan was a great way to start the trip because it was totally luxurious and we could really ease into the Moroccan culture. I definitely recommend a few nights here!
Here’s a close-up shot of more dreamy details of the dining hall at Hotel La Tour Hassan and a beautiful display of Moroccan craftsmanship.
After Rabat, we headed toward Marrakech. Our first stop was the Eden – esque Jardin Majorelle, a forty-year passion project of French painter Jaques Majorelle.
The more Jaques Majorelle travelled, the more he enjoyed gardening. He began to bring plants from around the world and acquired hundreds of rare varieties. The color that Majorelle began to use would later be known as “Majorelle blue”, an ultramarine, cobalt blue.
One afternoon we visited an artist cooperative and visited incredibly skilled textile makers.
At this particular co-op, men and women weave rugs, cut leather, and work with metals to make Morocco’s gorgeous lanterns. This picture captures one of the many reasons Morocco’s rugs are world famous – they are woven thread-by-thread.
Here’s a peek of the co-op’s architecture and peach colored walls.
If you do anything in Morocco, visit an art school or cooperative! It’s just the tip of the iceberg for appreciation and understanding of the country’s design aesthetic and style.
A full day of traveling and buying calls for a little R&R, and in Marrakech there’s no better place than Riad El Fenn, in the heart of the souks. The luxurious hotel blends the amazing designs of Morocco and modern comforts.
My R&R started right here – the bar at El Fenn. Have you ever spyed a more magical space?
A little over halfway through the trip, we drove just outside Marrakech to a three-story home in the mountains that was filled – literally wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, with rugs. The owner served us hot mint tea, a Moroccan hospitality staple, and we dug through the textiles for hours.
The rug shop owner asked us to stay for lunch and served us a magnificent five course meal on the roof, overlooking the mountains. We ate a seafood pastilla, sort of like a paella baked into the most delicious crust.
We scheduled a tour of the Royal Mansour, another one of Marrakech’s finest hotels, with the most luxurious décor and details I’ve ever seen.
This was just the lobby!
As our trip drew to a close, we drove through the mountains to Fes, which is known for its high quality ceramics.
We spent the evening digging through a three-story building full of hand painted tabletop décor. This picture captures the essence of our trip – decisions, decisions... Rarely did we leave with one of anything!
In Fes, we checked into the La Maison Bleue – a must see riad. In Arabic, ‘riad’ translates to a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden and most hotels mirror this particular style.
The view from a final breakfast in Fes, known as the walled city.
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