Sunday, 21 April 2013

Morocco: Oranges and Roses, Earth and Water

I'm a huge nature documentary fan, so I adored the recent BBC programme 'Africa'. What I found most interesting about it was that many of the habitats we saw were not what we'd automatically associate with the continent- there's so much more to it than just deserts and savannah. Similarly, Morocco doesn't feel like you might imagine Africa to feel- both in terms of the architecture with all it's mediterranean and middle-eastern influences, and in terms of the landscape itself. It really felt like something of an 'Eden', with gardens and water celebrated everywhere; roses in the hammams and real freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast every day. Orange blossom water was even added to our mojitos one evening for a Moroccan twist on the classic cocktail recipe, and it's also a standard ingredient in local beauty treatments, like the argan oil below that you can get from Essence of Morocco online.

In traditional Moroccan riads, the rooms all open onto the central atrium space where there would usually be a few orange or lemon trees, and a water feature. The water not only acts as a natural air-conditioning mechanism, but it also absorbs some of the noise, which was useful when more than one family was sharing a riad. These days, even modern hotels have incorporated this traditional feature into their reception areas, gardens and hammams. We often found roses floating in these water features too; rose water being another common ingredient in both the cuisine and the beauty products in Morocco.

       Sofitel Rabat

Magazan Beach Resort- you can get Moroccan Rose body butter here in the UK at The Body Shop.

    The spa at The Sofitel Rabat

This blue and green hammam at the Sofitel in Rabat was my favourite- the tiles everywhere in Morocco were so beautiful- Kate was particularly good at instagramming the best ones which you can see on her blog here. They made me really want to invest in some good prints- Charlotte Taylor's pieces would have looked perfect in Morocco.

More oranges in the gardens inside Kasbah des Oudaias in Rabat

The first hotel we arrived at in Morocco was the palatial Magazan Beach Resort- my fellow blogger Alex got much better pictures than I did which you can see on her blog here. To be honest, it was all a bit huge for me- I like my hotels to be more intimate and homely- but one lovely element of it was their farm- yes, this hotel has its own farm! It was a beautiful site where children visiting could go to play with the baby animals (we saw chicks, lambs and bunnies- see a lovely shot of them on Lela's blog here!) and grown-ups can pick the mint for their mojitos!

 Back in Casablanca, we stopped by the stunning Cafe Maure which had a beautiful garden and tiled water feature.

More gorgeous tiles in the Hammam in Sofitel Casablanca

The Hammam in Hotel & Spa Le Doge- a gorgeous boutique hotel with themed rooms- including  'Josephine Baker' and 'Coco Chanel' suites and an intimate rooftop garden.

I'm now saving up to indulge in a hammam treatment here in London- The Spa in Dolphin Square has some lovely sounding Moroccan rituals.

The hammam below the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca
You can also have your own hammam at home with a block of rose Hammam soap from Toast (one of my favourite companies, who now have a flagship store in London. I particularly love the Toast Travels blog ) and the now famous Moroccan Oil. I've always steered clear of the latter because I have such fine hair that gets greasy very easily but I've been told the light version is perfect for that, so I'm going to be giving it a try soon!

I was a guest of the Moroccan Tourism board and Royal Air Maroc- with thanks to Sofitel Casablanca and Rabat, and the Magazan Beach Resort.

1 comment:

Raquel (The Lost Lanes) said...

Great article, I'm such a huge fan of Morocco, it's a beautiful place!

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