Marrakech, the red city with a sulphurous reputation

The tourist capital of the kingdom is a beautiful getaway. A particular atmosphere, interesting visits, the pleasure to stay in one of the Medina’s many riads and get lost in the souks to negotiate THE decoration item for your home. There are also the Moroccans, charming and terribly sexy, who generate so many fantasies. The city has become a real destination for LGBT while homosexuality is illegal there and local gays keep hidden. Much abuse made it a sulphurous - even dangerous - destination for the careless tourist. But you are likely to make beautiful meetings, and a sudden and maybe real complicity. Kech, as it is fashionably called, will seduce you for a weekend or for life.



When to go? The city can be visited all year round but it’s worth avoiding the July and August heat as well as the Ramadan period (July in 2014). Besides, the city is crowded with French for whom the destination is most favorite, so avoiding these periods will allow you to enjoy more quietness.


What to see ? The city is not very big and the main centres of interest are in the medina (old town) which you can visit on foot. Eveything starts with Jemma el-Fna Square where you come across teeth pullers, fortune-tellers, musicians and other storytellers. It is very typical! Saadian tombs, Bahia palace, el Badii palace... interesting visits! Our favourite is undoubtedly the Medersa Ben Youssef which is the largest Koranic university in Maghreb and the museum of Marrakech. Outside the city walls which you can tour on carriage (very romantic; -), are the gardens of the Menara and especially the Majorelle house and its garden. It used to be the resort and place for masculine pleasures of Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé. The latter installed a beautiful museum of Berber Art, but its main asset is the garden. The palm grove, having lost its splendour is rather disappointing...

What to do ? Stroll in the souks, accept the fact of being a walking wallet and yield to the custom of the negotiation. They say a price and you bargain until you obtain around half the price indicated. Of course, you should start low and discuss. Hammams are part of the oriental lifestyle and seeing locals chatting is always very sensual as they wash themselves with black soap, get their skin scrubbed or get a massage. Public institutions will often be rustic while spas for tourists offer oriental charm. The Essalama Hammam, on Al Madina Street, next to the Majorelle garden is listed as friendly, but the place is rustic and it does not seem to be always friendly today. For lack of a beautiful and friendly place, simply choose a nice one such as 1001 nights, which is touristy but charming.


Gastronomy. Morroccan cuisine is tasty and spicy. There are two options. Popular cuisine with tajines, kebabs, kefta, couscous, Moroccan salad, but also sheep head and tripe. It will cost you a few dirhams and will be delicious! I loved the snails stand on Jeema El-Fnaa Square (yes, very special!). Our favourite restaurant is Chez Chegrouni with its terrace facing the Karbouch mosque. Or a chic restaurant, with very neat decor, loud music atmosphere, sophisticated dishes and prices equally so. You cousld try Pepe Nero where Khalid welcomes you in the former house of  Marrakech the pasha. Cooking classes are possible in the Medina gardens, which are outstanding with fine cuisine and its huge garden patio. Great experiences in any case.

Nightlife. You stay either stay on Jeema el Fna Square, enjoy the surrounding bars including the Café des Glaciers which has an incredible view of the square. It is a popular ambiance mixing Marrakchies and tourists. Or put on your finest clothes and go for the trendy clubs and restaurants.  Jet setters, Kech golden youth, rich Casablanca or Rabat people coming for a getaway will be your evening companions. On Place de la Liberté in Guéliz, the Black Diamond has an undisputed reputation. Students, models, would-be models and prostitute wiggle on the dance-floors. This sexy scene is not gay, but people being open-minded and gays recognize themselves a discreet way there. There are perhaps more at Comptoir Darnar where foreign and local hipsters meet. And here you are sipping cocktails and dancing to North African rhythms with this beautiful stranger that gave you discreet hot looks. The Djellabar also seems good for encounters. There you will dive into a very original pop-oriental decor! Worth a mention is also the Pacha Marrakech, with its 900 m2 of dance floor, swimming pool, restaurants and its decor including white leather that earn it THE disco of the city status. Finally, in La Palmeraie, a very gorgeous Brazilian transvestite lit up the stage of the Fuego Latino, a Brazilian restaurant which organises dinners with shows. Here too, some discreet encounters are possible. Note that the rates of these establishments are often those of the big cities, which is their way of making a selection at the entrance.


Where to stay.

Many possibilities in the heart of the Medina, in restored riads with small patios, gardens and fountains. It is not always easy to located them but they are small paradises in the heart of the bustling city. Otherwise, there are larger and modern hotels with a swimming pool in the Hivernage or Guéliz neighbourhoods. Note that there are no officially gay establishments given that homosexuality is forbidden and some riads that were sulphurous referencies have been closed or put under surveillance by the authorities. When we included the directory of hotels on Ourakcha’s old version, many establishments asked us to be withdrawn from the listing because that endangered them.

Therefore, even if they are not gay, there are now very beautiful facilities whose owners are gay and who are very friendly. Pascal and Pierre-Alain and their beautiful riad Nomade within walking distance from Djema-el-Fna Square; Joel and Philippe and their Karmela riad at the entrance of the souks; Olivier and his romantic Dar Najat; Jean-Christophe and his friendly Riad Dar Lyna, with hammam, massages and body cares provided on site; Philippe & Bernard in the Riad Menzeh housed in a former house of pacha; Stuart and Neil, the Londoners and their Dar Soulahfa; Thierry and his very stylish Riad Empire... or far from the bustle of the city, with a very beautiful pool, Maison des Oliviers. Some beautiful hotels, including Palais Namaskar, Dar Sabra, Palais Paysan or Beldy country club. Finally, you will find attractive rooms from €50 per night on the Ebab site.

Normally, you cannot accommodate Moroccans in your room, but some friendly establishments close their eyes if you request it. In the same way, larger hotels also show tolerance.

In the region. The Ourika valley peopled with Berber tribes is a great day trip. The Ouzoud waterfall, 170 km in the Middle Atlas is the highest in Morocco and a very beautiful site also. Otherwise the small town of Essaouira, which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage, offers a longer get-away. A beautiful beach, pink walls encircling a lively medina, whitewashed façades and even a gay friendly guesthouse with a Spa: Auberge Tangaro.


How to organize oneself. Book a plane ticket on any search engine and book your accommodation directly through their website. Once there, everything is nearby and can be organized easily.

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