Detour | My Stay at the Hill Farm Inn, Vermont

Hill Farm Inn Vermont
hill farm inn vermont

When I was researching accommodation for my New England fall road trip, I was focusing mostly on places available on Airbnb.  We were travelling for two weeks, and therefore staying in hotels every night can really push the total cost of a trip up really high.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont

But in typical Annmaree fashion, where I have to be 150% sure I’m making the right decision when booking a place, I happened to do a Google search when researching the Green Mountains area of Vermont.  And I won’t lie, I may have Googled things like ’boutique hotels Green Mountains Vermont’, just to see if there was anything a little bit fancy, which is how I came across The Hill Farm Inn.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont

I clicked the link to The Hill Farm Inn website, and scrolling through the gallery of images, it was love at first sight.  A quick look at the nightly rate and availability, and with just one room left at the inn, I had no time to waste, I needed that room!  I booked it for just one night, but that was better than nothing, and it became one of the things I was most looking forward to on the trip.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont

On the second day of our trip we were up at the crack of dawn thanks to jet lag, so we made our way towards The Hill Farm Inn, based in Sunderland VT, by mid morning.  As we pulled into the driveway I knew we were in for an amazing experience.   Located on a large farm is the main inn, with some smaller houses dotted around the land, a huge red barn, and alpacas grazing in the paddock.  This place made my heart sing.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont

We walked up the steps onto the porch, which was decorated with pumpkins for fall, and had rocking chairs dotted around, looking like something out of a dreamy Hallmark movie (my favourite kind of movie!).  Walking through the entrance, into the cosy warm inn, we were greeted by Kate the manager, aka the loveliest, friendliest manager ever!  It was too early to check in, but knowing there was about to be heavy rain fall, she was more than happy for me to run around the property snapping pictures before everything looked soaked.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont

Satisfied with my photo taking, we head into the nearby town of Manchester, which looks like a movie set.  Everything was perfect and so pretty!  We dodged the rain by checking out some shops and grabbing lunch, visiting a few more super cute towns and then finally making our way back to the cosiness of The Hill Farm Inn.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont

We checked in to our room, which was in one of the other houses on the property.  It was perfect.  Beautifully decorated, a super comfy bed and modern bathroom.  At the entrance to the house was coffee and water available to guests at all times.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont

By early evening, guests were in the games room playing pool and darts, the fires were lit, and you could even makes s’mores – that delicious American dessert consisting of melted chocolate and marshmallow between graham crackers/cookies.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont

On a cold and rainy night, what better way to spend it than in a pub?  Which is one of the huge plus points of The Hill Farm Inn.  They have their very own pub!  I loved this feature.  It works on honesty which is wonderfully trusting, and you can play bar tender and pour yourself a wine or beer to either enjoy at the bar, or in the beautiful sitting room, complete with comfy sofas to lounge on.  We sat out on the heated porch, with the Hill Farm Inn’s VIP resident, Milo the cat, and as I sipped my wine, I added to my bucket list: ‘Must own a farmhouse with a wrap-around porch one day’.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont

The inn has both a pool and a jacuzzi, so with the rain still falling we jumped in the jacuzzi and sat back enjoying the cool air on our faces and an evening where we didn’t have a care in the world.  Back in the warmth of our cosy room, jet lag had come back full force, so it was time to retire for the night.  I nestled into my soft pillow and slept like a log til morning.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont

Awake early again with our bodies not yet adjusted to the new time zone, I enjoyed an hour of lazing in bed, with American tv playing – something I always love to do when I’m on holiday in USA.  Eventually getting ready for the day, we wandered over to the beautifully decorated dining room for breakfast.  There were so many delicious options on offer, and they even catered for gluten free me, which I’m always so appreciative of.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont

With breakfast over, and our bag packs, it was with heavy hearts that we had to check out and move on to our next destination.  Saying our goodbyes to Kate and the team, we took one more walk around the property, laughing at the alpacas all huddled together in the shed, and made our way to our car to hit the road towards another day of adventure.

Hill Farm Inn Vermont

If you’re planning a visit to Vermont, do check out The Hill Farm Inn.  It is such a beautiful, special place and makes me want to run an inn of my own one day!

Annmaree x

Hill Farm Inn Vermont
hill farm inn vermont
Hill Farm Inn Vermont

Detour | The Start of My New England Fall Roadtrip…

new england fall roadtrip
new england fall roadtrip

Where do I even begin to start telling you about the amazing adventure that was my New England Fall Roadtrip?!  I’ve been trying to figure out how to break up blog posts, so I can share as much information with you as possible, because there’s so much to say!

I brought one of my bucket list travel plans to life this past October.  Spending two weeks travelling around different cities and towns in New England, taking in the beauty of Autumn that this part of the world is so famous for.

Bennington Vermont
vermont fall roadtrip
vermont fall roadtrip

It took a bunch of researching and planning, which I did by buying a huge paper map, and tracing out the route based on the list of destinations I’d jotted down from reading blog posts and travel articles online.

The planning was worth it though, and on October 5th we flew into NYC, jumped in a cab to Manhattan to collect our hire car (travel tip: it’s MUCH cheaper to hire a car away from the airport), and drove north towards Bennington, where we had booked a fantastic Airbnb, located on a Christmas tree farm (see photos above and below, link to the property here).

vermont fall roadtrip
Bennington Vermont
Fall Road trip
vermont fall road trip

My heart sang being on this trip.  I should probably mention that USA is my favourite place on the planet (Japan/Italy take equal second place!).  I first visited USA when I was 12 years old, and it has had my heart ever since.  So this trip was not only in my favourite country, but also ticking off all those bucket list moments, quaint and adorable small towns, pumpkin patches, apple picking, fall foliage, apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes!

Bennington Vermont

I remember my first night on the trip.  We’d settled into our Airbnb and then made our way down to the main street of Bennington, a small town with pretty houses, and a real local feel to the place, like everyone would know everyone.  We sat to eat dinner in a restaurant filled with what looked like locals.  It felt a million miles away from the UK, and I remember feeling so happy that the reality of the trip was matching up to how I’d dreamed it would be.  I was so excited for what lay ahead, and all the adventures and stories I was about to collect.

bennington vt
The Roasted Bean Bennington

We were asleep by 8.45pm the first night, when jetlag hit us real bad!  But that meant we were up early the next morning,  jumping in the car to explore the town, grabbing coffee first, at a tiny place called The Roasted Bean, located in a petrol station.  The barista was the loveliest local, and as the resident cat snaked around our legs, we discussed our trip and also her past trip to London.  It was one of those tiny moments, that was lovely and memorable, and then she handed me a big arse coffee, I mean, I ordered the medium size, but then I’d clearly forgotten I was in America, where medium = extra extra large anywhere else.  It fuelled me with energy for the day I guess!

New England Fall Roadtrip

Bennington was pretty, with beautiful houses, the change of the season meaning orange leaves were glowing everywhere, and every corner we turned had me gasping at the beauty of it all.

Time stands still for no one, and with the clock ticking it was time for us to head back to our Airbnb to collect our bags, then make our way slightly further north to a place called Sunderland, very near the picture perfect town of Manchester.

New England Fall roadtrip

I’ll leave the details of our stay in Sunderland for a separate post because it was such a special place it deserves a whole blog post to itself!  We stayed for just one night, but in that time we were able to explore Manchester, which looks like something straight out of a movie.  The houses and the shops were PERFECT!  It was a rainy day when we visited, but it meant it was the perfect weather to enjoy the most ridiculously good tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich at a place called Mystic Cafe and Wine Bar.  Amazing how something so simple can taste so good.

New England fall roadtrip
New England fall roadtrip
New England Fall roadtrip
New England fall roadtrip

 

We continued on our tour around the nearby towns, visiting Dorset which was super tiny and so sweet, and Weston, home to The Vermont Country Store.  My understanding is that this place is pretty famous, they not only have the store, but they have a huge catalogue you can order from, as well as their website.  This place was INSANE!  It looked so quiet from the outside, and then it was almost like pushing through the wardrobe doors of Narnia, as we opened the entrance door, this huge world lay in front of us.  There was everything you could think of, the candy department, the cheese bar, pickles if you fancied something to munch, huge rows of maple syrup, the kitchen department which also sold fudge, and if you think you’re not a fan of fudge, think again, the stuff from their store is what dreams are made of.  We bought some maple walnut fudge, and I think I’m still suffering addiction withdrawals a month later.  It was such a fun place to visit!

new england fall roadtrip
new england fall roadtrip

We drove through a few other beautiful tiny towns, including Townshend, for those of you who are fans of the movie Funny Farm.  We drove up and down lanes, until we found the house that features in the movie.  We visited a farmers market, and popped into a bunch of beautiful stores and then eventually made our way back to Sunderland.

New England Fall Roadtrip
New England Fall Roadtrip
New England Fall Roadtrip

We spent the drizzly evening back at our accommodation (the place I’ll talk about in my next blog post), sipping wine in their very own pub, and then taking a dip in the outdoor jacuzzi, before retiring to our super lovely bedroom, where jetlag had once again kicked in.

Zzzzzzzzz.

Annmaree x

Vermont Fall Roadtrip

Detour | A Cornwall VW Kombi roadtrip

VW Kombi
VW Kombi

I finally made it to Cornwall in UK! It only took 18 years to get there but never mind :o)  And it was done in the best way too, on a VW Kombi road trip.

VW Kombi
skater girl
VW Kombi
St Ives Cornwall

I created a list of things I wanted to tick off once I turned 40, and one of them was a VW Kombi road trip.  Another was visiting Cornwall, so it made sense to combine the two, and we set off over a bank holiday weekend at the end of August, which also happened to be the weekend of my 41st birthday.

Fresh apples
St Ives Cornwall
St Ives Cornwall
St Ives Cornwall

We researched a handful of VW Kombi’s online and finally found the one we booked, called Meghan, based on the outskirts of London.  They’re not the cheapest van hire option but the experience of spending the weekend driving and camping out in a kombi makes it worth the little extra!

St Ives Cornwall
St Ives Cornwall
St Ives Cornwall
St Ives Cornwall

Setting off very early on the Saturday morning, trying our best to avoid as much traffic as possible, we soon realised that when you’re in a VW Kombi, you immediately become part of a little highway gang.  Each time another kombi passes you by, everyone beeps and waves, so we soon got into the spirit of it, waving at each one that passed, and surprisingly there were a lot.

St Ives Cornwall
St Ives Cornwall
St Ives Cornwall
Lands End Cornwall

Late afternoon we arrived at Penzance, setting up home for the night in a lovely campground.  Our kombi was fitted out with a fridge, gas hob and wash basin, so we ate sausages in bread for dinner, and sipped wine whilst sat in our van.  It was so cosy, so relaxing and reminded me of all my experiences camping when I was growing up.  Fancy hotels are wonderful, but the simplicity of camping is something pretty special.

Cornwall roadtrip
St Ives Cornwall
Cornwall
VW roadtrip

The following morning we packed up, jumped into the driver/passenger seat and we were off towards Lands End, Britain’s most south-westerly point, to play tourist before continuing on to St Ives.  The traffic in St Ives was immense due to the bank holiday, but we finally found a parking space way up on a hill, and ventured down to the seaside.

Padstow Cornwall
VW roadtrip
Padstow Cornwall

The best bit of St Ives for me?  Gluten free cornish pasties and gluten free scones!  I mean a girl needs to indulge, and sometimes that option just isn’t available to me, so this was very exciting!  St Ives is also full of lovely shops from traditional souvenir stores to very cool homeware and clothing shops.  Every man and their dog were either sat at a seat outside a pub, or squished onto a beach chair on the sand, that’s the English seaside for you!

Padstow Cornwall
Padstow Cornwall
Padstow Cornwall

That afternoon we arrived at our next campsite in Padstow.  Another really great campsite, with everything from a mini grocery store, to a fabulous communal bathroom set up complete with a hair drying station.  Not exactly roughing it!

VW Kombi roadtrip

We took a map from reception and followed the track that led us through cornfields and paddocks down to Padstow harbour.  A town that’s often known for Rick Stein’s restaurant, we walked past his fish and chip shop and decided against lining up in the insanely long queue, instead opting for a walk around the harbour town as the sun set and live music played in the square.  We sat down for delicious Italian food at one of the restaurants, and another gluten free win, they had GF arancini, hallelujah!  Sleepy and not feeling energised enough to walk back up the hill through the paddocks to the campsite, we called a cab and were soon tucked up in our cosy kombi bed.

VW Kombi
Surfing Cornwall
VW Kombi Roadtrip

The next morning was my birthday.  We’d booked a surfing lesson but due to some miscommunication it had been cancelled the evening before.  So I started my morning with coffee and a FaceTime call with my parents.  But then we received a text saying we could join the lesson after all and had 30 minutes to get there.  Needless to say the coffee was tipped out on the grass, the FaceTime call swiftly ended and we scrambled to pack everything up and get down to the beach in time for the surf lesson.

Camel Valley vineyard

Having snowboarded a few times before and being able to stay upright on my skateboard, I was looking forward to this lesson, but I was also nervous!  Our young instructor was fab, and after everyone in the lesson had squeezed into their wetsuits, we soon got into the swing of learning the art of trying to stand up on a surfboard.  My first attempt at just laying on the board and cruising into the shallows, ended with me barrel rolling and swallowing a tonne of sea water.  Slighty taken aback, I swallowed my pride and my worry that maybe surfing wasn’t for me after all, and made my way back out to sea.  Things only got better from here, and I managed to be pretty good at standing on a surfboard.  It was the best feeling!  Leaving me totally in the moment, amongst nature, and with a feeling of exhilaration each time I stood on the board and steered it towards shore.  I can’t wait to try surfing again!

Polzeath Cornwall
Polzeath Cornwall
VW Kombi camping

Following our lesson, we head back to the campsite to freshen up and then made our way to Camel Valley Vineyard, sitting out on their deck sipping wine in the warm sunshine.  It was a beautiful day, so we visited Rock – a small but lovely little beachside town, Constantine Bay, to say hi to friends and where we apparently just missed David Cameron walking out of the ocean hah!, and then we arrived at our final campsite in Polzeath.

Polzeath was my favourite beachside town, due to its very relaxed feel which reminded me of being home in New Zealand.  Our friends were also staying in an apartment nearby so they came over to our campsite to toast my birthday with some champagne, and then we head down the track to the beach, crossing over the sand and rocks towards a little pizza place.  My birthday dinner was perfect, sat on a picnic bench under the stars eating pizza and realising how much I love the simple life sometimes.

VW roadtrip

The next morning, it was time to pack up and head home.  Cue: sad music.  It took forever to get back to London, with everyone else doing the same thing, but I didn’t mind, I just enjoyed the last moments of Meghan and our VW Kombi road trip.

If it’s something you’ve ever thought about doing, go for it, it’s so much fun, and I can’t wait for another kombi trip!

Annmaree x

Polzeath Cornwall
Polzeath Cornwall
Polzeath Cornwall

Eat | Pimp My Pizza Lunch with Friends

pizza menu
pizza menu
cactus
Ciao sexy pizza
lunch setting
Guacamole
Pimp my Pizza
hot sauce
Pizza tee

A couple weekends ago we had our friends over for a Pimp My Pizza lunch.  I love a themed event, and this one had sprung to mind earlier in the year, so I’d filed it in my ‘must make this happen’ folder in my brain and we were so lucky that the date we planned ended up being one of the most glorious, sunniest days London had seen all year.

I’d created little menus for us, just using Pages on my Mac, so each of us could tick which toppings we wanted and create our ultimate ‘pimp my pizza’.

Appetisers came in the form of guacamole, of which we made a huge portion.  If anyone’s interested in how to make the best guac recipe: smash some avocado in a bowl with lime, chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, coriander and salt.  Keeping adding until it tastes just right (the key is the salt and lime!).

Drinks came in the form of frozen margaritas.  Luckily we had Minute Maid frozen pink lemonade in the freezer, all the way from USA, so we used this and blended with tequila, triple sec and ice.  And they were freakin’ deeeeelicious!  I purchased some palm tree cups online to make us feel like we were kicking back somewhere warm and exotic like Miami, and not a suburb in South West London ;o)

For pizzas we purchased stone baked margherita pizzas, and a gluten free cauliflower crust for me ;o)  Then we threw on the toppings as per each persons request on their tick-box menu.  Then we stuffed our faces like little piggies, and it was worth every damn calorie!

What’s a lunch date without dessert?  To finish up, what better than s’mores?!  We topped digestive biscuits with marshmallows and chocolate, grilling them in the oven and then sat outside in the courtyard, stuffing them into our greedy mouths whilst covering our faces in melted marshmallow and chocolate – this is not a recommended first date food lol ;o)

Yay for fun lunch dates with friends, they bring JOY TO MY SOUL!  Now to think up the next theme…. I’m thinking fall/autumn/thanksgiving vibes.  Apple pie comes to mind, who wants an invite?

Annmaree xo

sunday lunch
Pimp my Pizza
pizza lunch
Frozen margarita
Guacamole
Pimp my Pizza
S'mores
Pimp my Pizza

Detour | Jnane Tamsna, Marrakech

Marrakech
Marrakech

Planning a trip to Marrakech?  Staying in riad’s in the medina but want to have a quiet, luxurious day away from the hustle and bustle?  Then you need to add Jnane Tamsna to your itinerary!

Marrakech
Jnane Tamsna
Jnane Tamsna

When planning my trip to Marrakech, I knew I wanted a balance of the hustle and bustle of the medina, and a day where I could spend doing very little except for swimming and eating.

Jnane Tamsna
Jnane Tamsna
Jnane Tamsna

Searching online, I came across Jnane Tamsna, a stunning boutique hotel in the Palmerie area of Marrakech.   I contacted them, asking if there was the possibility of a day pass, something that some hotels around the world do for non-guests, and they were extremely accommodating giving me a couple of options to choose from.

I opted for the day pass that included dinner, with an add-on of a camel ride in the palm groves at sunset.

Marrakech

A driver arranged by Jnane Tamsna collected us from our riad on the day of our booking, and 20 minutes later we drove through the gates of this stunning property.

It’s like something out of a movie!  On the vast grounds there are five houses, five pools, an organic store, the most beautiful home interiors shop, a tennis court and expansive gardens where they grow food to serve guests al fresco in one of the courtyards.

Jnane Tamsna
Marrakech
Marrakech

We decided the first thing to do upon arriving was to take a walk around the grounds and have a nosey at all the beautiful buildings, archways, gardens and pools.  It’s like something out of a Vogue magazine, so much so, that Vogue have photographed here before.

Marrakech
Marrakech

Deciding on which pool to spend the afternoon in, we then swung by the kitchen and asked if there was any possibility of ordering lunch.  This was no problem at all, and what I love is that instead of seeing a menu, they just asked us what we felt like eating, and 15 minutes later a delicious salad arrived along with GLUTEN FREE!! bread, and we sat amongst the date palms, eating and patting the owners dog.

Jnane Tamsna

The afternoon was spent soaking up the rays on sunloungers and taking multiple dips in the pools.  I’d like to say I felt utterly relaxed at this point, but I couldn’t stop jumping up from my lounger to take photos and video footage, because everywhere I looked was magical!

Jnane Tamsna
Jnane Tamsna
Jnane Tamsna

At 5pm we met our camel guide for our one hour trek through the palm groves.  I’d never ridden a camel before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and just hoped I didn’t fall off!  It was such a fun experience, I soon felt safe enough to hold on with one hand and take photos all whilst sitting way up high, bobbing around with each step the camel took.

Jnane Tamsna
Jnane Tamsna
Jnane Tamsna

As our guide led us on the trek, he somehow managed to make me some amazing pieces of art out of palm leaves, all with one hand!  What a talent!

Marrakech
Marrakech

It was the most stunning time of the day to be riding amongst the palm groves, with the setting sun giving everything a golden glow.  I was so glad we decided to book this camel trek, and really recommend it as an add-on to your visit.

Jnane Tamsna

Back at Jnane Tamsna, we bid farewell to our guide and the camels and head back to the courtyard for an Aperol Spritz and to chat with fellow guests.

Jnane Tamsna

The lovely thing about staying or dining at Jnane Tamsna is that it all happens at an outdoor communal table, which is candlelit as night falls.  You’ll find yourself amongst  lovely, inspirational guests, and on the night we dined there I felt very fortunate to sit with Becky (and her husband Ryan), the founder of @wearetravelgirls on Instagram.  Two inspirational people with an amazing story.

Jnane Tamsna
Marrakech
Morocco

We had three delicious courses of food, again with no menu, all washed down with Moroccan wine, a new favourite of mine.

It was getting late.  As if by magic, our driver was nearby, and we hopped into the car, driving back towards our riad, with sun kissed skin, happy bellies, and full of wanderlust to return to Jnane Tamsna again, but for a longer stay next time.

Annmaree x

Finding Joy in Sunday

richmond park
richmond park
richmond park
richmond park
richmond park london

I love Sunday.  I didn’t always, and I’ve suffered through the Sunday night blues like many others.  But recently I’ve found my rhythm that allows me to look forward to the final day of the weekend, and embrace the whole day from morning through to bedtime.

For the longest time I’d been trying to find joy in Sunday by doing the same thing I did when I was in my twenties and thirties.  Rushing around the city, fitting in as much as I could, from brunch, to lunch, to markets, browsing shops and making sure I was out for the whole day so I didn’t feel like I’d wasted it.  But over the last few years, I’ve felt unfulfilled, often feeling low or down on a Sunday, and unsatisfied with the way I was living my life.

When I was in New Zealand over December 2018/January 2019 for six weeks, my time spent there was very different.  I was fortunate to spend most of it on the east coast of New Zealand at my parents beach house.  Being someone that needs A LOT of time to myself, I’d often take my laptop to a cafe, one where I could most likely see the ocean, or I’d head to the beach for the afternoon.  It was there that something started to sink in.  I felt peace and calm.  Upon my return to London, I started out my Sunday’s in the same way I’d always done, brunch, usually in a vibrant and busy cafe, rushing about here and there, but something was off.  I felt unsatisfied and low again.  And then it dawned on me, that those things that I loved to do in my twenties and thirties, no longer made me happy.  I thought back to my time in NZ, and realised I felt happy when I was amongst nature.  And I feel sooo old typing this, but it was a huge realisation for me that I needed to spend my time differently in order to feel happy.

And so, my Sunday’s have changed.  Finding joy in Sunday is different for everyone, for me perfect one is spent taking a long walk in a London park, the less touristy the better, followed by returning home late afternoon, to sit at our dining table in my own space, with soothing music, a glass of wine and my laptop, where I spend a good couple of hours reading travel blogs, planning upcoming trips and generally enjoying being in the moment, and a peaceful, calm moment at that.  Not every Sunday is, or will be like this, and that’s fine too, because change is good.  Today I went for brunch in East London with one of my closest friends, followed by a stroll through Columbia Road Flower Market and Brick Lane.  I enjoyed it, I ate great food, I had quality time with my friend Jo, I saw interesting people, and then I was happy to come home to my dining room table, where I’m sat, with a glass of wine, Ray LaMontagne on the Sonos, and my laptop (obvs as I’m typing this on my Mac).  And I feel calm, I feel ready for Monday and I feel grateful to have found a new groove, and to know what makes me happy in this new season of life in my forties.

How do you like to spend your Sunday?

Annmaree x

morden hall park
i love sunday
morden hall park

Eat | The Best Places to Eat in Marrakech

Best places to eat in Marrakech
Terrasse Des Epices

It’s not easy to narrow down a list of the best places to eat in Marrakech, because there are sooo many amazing foodie spots in this vibrant city!  I’m already desperate to return so I can tick a few more places off my list that I didn’t manage to get to on my last trip, and revisit some of my fav spots that are mentioned here in this blog post.

I wholeheartedly recommend every place listed below, they will not disappoint!  Great food, great wine, and all of them with the most amazing interior design.  Let me know what you think if you visit these Marrakech spots…

Terrasse Des Epices
Terrasse Des Epices
best places to eat in Marrakech
Marrakech

Terrace des Epices

Located inside the medina, Terrace des Epices is a rooftop restaurant, offering fantastic views and a great atmosphere.  We visited twice, the first time for a drink at the bar (Moroccan wine is so so good, I highly recommend it!), and the second time for dinner.  As night falls, the terrace twinkles with low lights, the DJ spins house music, and the waiters introduce themselves, before placing a giant blackboard menu in front of you to choose your meal from.

Terrasse Des Epices
Terrasse Des Epices
Terrasse Des Epices

Opting for starters and tagines, and of course Moroccan wine, the food was really tasty and reasonably priced.  We absolutely loved the vibe of this place.  The staff are friendly and helpful, the views are great, the house music playing makes for a really buzzy atmosphere, but not in an over the top, too loud so you can’t hear yourself think kinda way!

best places to eat in marrakech
Terrasse Des Epices
Terrasse Des Epices

 

the best places to eat in marrakech

+61

I was really curious about visiting +61, an Australian restaurant located in the Gueliz neighbourhood of Marrakech.  The restaurant is co-owned by Australian Cassandra Karinsky and Sebastian de Gzell, owner of well known Marrakech restaurant Nomad (we dined there, but felt it had become too touristy).

We made a reservation for dinner at +61, and upon walking in I immediately felt the familiarity of an Antipodean restaurant from the chic but simple interior.  We met Cassandra that night, who is unsurprisingly a laid-back friendly Aussie, and it was great to chat to her about life in Marrakech and also +61.

We had a fab dinner there, the atmosphere was lovely, and there seemed to be a lot of regulars (mostly expats) walking through the doors, which is always a good sign.  The menu, all delicious, changes regularly based on seasonal availability.  If you’re wanting a Moroccan twist on great Aussie food, I recommend a visit.

+61 marrakech
+61 marrakech
the best places to eat in marrakech
+61 marrakech

 

best places to eat in marrakech

El Fenn

First up, we never ended up eating at El Fenn, despite it being in our plan to do so.  Hence this is one place I’m excited to head back to Marrakech for, so I have the chance to dine there.  I’m glad we at least made it here for a late afternoon drink on the rooftop.

El Fenn, owned by Richard Branson’s sister Vanessa, is a luxury riad hotel based inside the medina.  It’s a sprawling space, with turtles waddling in the courtyard, beautiful interior design, and a rooftop that includes a bar, restaurant, lounge areas and swimming pool for guests.

This is a beautiful spot to kick back and rest your feet after a long day of walking.  It’s super chic, and to lay back on the green loungers, with a wine in your hand, as the sun warms your face, is to feel complete happiness.  Go!

el fenn marrakech
el fenn marrakech
best places to eat in marrakech

 

le jardin marrakech

Le Jardin

Le Jardin is a garden oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of Marrakech’s medina.  Owned by the same person that also owns Cafe des Epices, this places in such a tranquil, beautiful spot to enjoy a meal at.

best places to eat in marrakech
best places to eat in marrakech
best places to eat in marrakech

We had lunch there on our first day in the city.  As you’re walking down the small street, you enter through an unassuming door into the courtyard, to be greeted by birds chirping, a beautiful green interior, and terraces above.  If you’re looking to rest your feet, eat great food, and you love interior design, this is the place for you.

best places to eat in marrakech
best places to eat in marrakech
le jardin marrakech
best places to eat in marrakech

 

Palais Lamrani Marrakech

Palais Lamrani

We were recommended this restaurant by the staff at Snan13 Riad where we were staying, just around the corner.  On first glance, when we walked into the reception area we were unsure, but I am so glad they showed us into the garden.  We were sold!  This place is magical!  I can’t believe I haven’t seen it featured in other articles on Marrakech.

We went for dinner at the beautiful restaurant, I recommend that’s what you do to.  Sat amongst a garden of beautiful lush greenery, the courtyard is lit up by candles, and it feels like you’re in some sort of fairy land.

The staff were fantastic, and the tagine’s were the best I’ve ever tasted!  If you want to enjoy a special meal, in a stunning setting, make sure you book a table here.

Palais Lamrani Marrakech
Palais Lamrani
Palais Lamrani

 

Cafe de la Poste Marrakech
Cafe de la Poste Marrakech
Cafe de la Poste Marrakech

Grand Café de la Poste

A well known spot in the Gueliz district, this was my second trip to Grand Café de la Poste, having also visited on my first trip to Marrakech many years ago.  It’s a great place to sit back and relax after a long day of walking.

Best places to eat in Marrakech

On this occasion we just popped in for drinks, and on my last trip I went for breakfast.  I’ve heard great things about dinner there though.  The restaurant oozes style and class, with a grand staircase being the centrepiece of the restaurant, leading up to more cosy corners and dining areas on the floors above.

A beautiful place, though unassuming from the entrance, you’re guaranteed a lovely experience at this well-loved location.

best places to eat in Marrakech
best places to eat in marrakech
best places to eat in marrakech

Happy Eating & Happy Drinking in Morocco!

Annmaree x

Detour | Must See Sights in Marrakech

marrakech
marrakech

There are so many Must-See Sights in Marrakech, from mosques and palaces to shopping in the souks and dodging snakes in Jemaa El Fan Square.  There won’t be any one guide that will tell you everything you need to see, as we all have our own interests in what we consider a must-see or not.  And by no means have I listed everything that I think you should add to your Marrakech list, but instead I’ve highlighted a handful of my favourites.

In my next blog post I’ll list my favourite food and drink spots, but for now this list is to help you explore the city….

must see sights in marrakech
marrakech
marrakech

(Images above not my own)

Jardin Marjorelle

The Majorelle Garden is a two and half acre enclosed wall garden, bought from it’s original creator in 1980, by Yves Saint Laurent.  Inside the walls, you’ll see the very Insta famous blue villa, and the most amazing collection of cacti, it’s really a mindblowing sight to see.

This was my second visit here, and maybe I’m getting old or something, but I really enjoyed this visit!  It’s full of so many beautiful plants, ponds with koi fish and frogs, winding paths that lead you through bamboo forests, and bougainvillea spilling out in bright colours.

If you’re a fan of Yves Saint Laurent, you’ll find the fairly new YSL museum next door to the gardens.  We didn’t visit, but I’ve heard good things.

Marjorelle Gardens Marrakech
must see sights in marrakech
Marjorelle Gardens
must see sights in marrakech

Le Jardin Secret

Le Jardin Secret aka The Secret Garden, is located inside the medina behind 30 foot walls. It’s a stunning spot and a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the medina and its souks.

Inside there are two gardens, one being an exotic garden and the other an Islamic garden.  There’s a cafe you can climb the stairs to and look out over this tranquil spot, whilst resting your feet.  I loved this place, the plants are amazing and it does feel like you’ve discovered a secret as soon as you step off the busy street through the entrance.

Le Jardin Secret
Marrakech
must see sights in marrakech

La Mamounia

La Mamounia Hotel, located just outside Marrakech’s medina is an unbelievably palatial sight to see.  There are 17 acres of gardens that surround the hotel and don’t get me started on the swimming pool, which is the largest hotel pool I’ve ever seen.  Our first visit wasn’t successful, with a high standard dress code, we found out at the entrance that males cannot go inside if they are in shorts (even dress shorts don’t count) after 6pm.  We returned later in the evening, walking through the gardens, and then visiting the Churchill Bar (named after Winston Churchill who adopted Mamounia as his winter home) for a glass of wine.   My next visit to Marrakech, I am planning on booking the spa day pass, which includes lunch, a spa treatment and use of the hotel pool.

must see sights in marrakech

Jemaa El Fna Square

Jemaa el-Fna is a memorable and sometimes overwhelming destination.  You’ll witness everything from storytellers and dancers to snake charmers and monkeys in football shirts.  During the day it’s a little more subdued, but come dusk the square fills up with people and food stalls.

You can’t go to Marrakech and not visit Jemaa el-Fna.  It’s fascinating, but you need to keep your wits about you too.  As a tourist you’ll be seen as a beeline to potential cash.  You’ll have men trying their best to drape a snake over you or place a monkey on your shoulder.  If you have no interest in this (raises my hand) you need to be firm with your no.  No giggly, smiley no’s.  Firm but polite.  But don’t let that put you off, it’s a must see.  The food stalls in the evening are fascinating, and the stall owners are friendly and entertaining.

Marrakech
Marrakech
must see sights in marrakech

(Images above not my own)

Shopping In and Out of the Souks

The souks, a labyrinth of shopping stalls inside Marrakech’s medina, are a must-visit.  You’ll get lost.  But don’t worry, just embrace it and wander through this slightly mad, sometimes irritating, but fascinating shopping mecca.  From leather shoes and bags, to woven baskets and hats, it’s a fun place to visit, but you need to be prepared to barter.

You’ll get a good deal in the souks eventually, no doubt, but as I discovered on this trip, shopping outside of the medina and visiting the manufacturers directly, was a much more enjoyable experience.  No hassle from the shop owners, no bartering, and amazing prices that you’ll never achieve in the souks.

I recommend asking your riad/hotel to book you a tuk-tuk and decide on what it is you want to buy.  We went to ceramic manufacturers and bought back some beautiful pieces.

Marrakech

A few more tips… There’s some great boutique stores in Marrakech, check out Chabi Chic, Max and Jan and 33 rue Marjorelle.  All stores sell a mix of homeware and fashion.

Last but certainly not least.  Walk.  Don’t worry about the direction too much, just wander.  On this last trip in Marrakech, we wandered through the medina and found ourselves in a tourist free area, where all the locals were buying their food and whilst some of the sights might be disturbing to some (bunnies and chickens jam packed in cages at the butchers), it was fascinating to see a more authentic part of the city.

marrakech

Keep your wits about you, sometimes (read most of the time), an offer of help to show you the way when you’re lost does result in a demand for money.  Look confident, be confident, give a polite but firm ‘no thank you’ when you’re not comfortable with a situation, and keep going on your way (even if you’re lost).

Enjoy this magical city, it’s such a special place, I hope you love it as much as I do!

Annmaree x

must see sights in marrakech
must see sights in marrakech

3 Affordable Luxury Riads in Marrakech

3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech

3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech

3 Affordable Luxury Riads in Marrakech

When I was planning my second ever trip to Marrakech, I had a very clear idea of what type of vacation I wanted.  My first trip there a gazillion years ago, was about seeing as much as I could in a short amount of time, and this second trip was to be more about soaking up the luxury of the amazing riads in Marrakech, dining at beautiful restaurants and of course shopping.

As I started researching and planning the trip, I was intent on finding affordable luxury riads to enjoy my time in this magical city.  What quickly became apparent was that Instagram has made Marrakech so popular, meaning each time I found somewhere I liked, it would be booked out months in advance.  I was starting to lose hope, but I persevered and struck gold.  I may have had to change our flight dates by one day to make it all work, but needs must ;o)

We stayed in three very different, equally luxurious riads during our five night trip.  I know that sounds OTT but A. it was the only way I could make the trip work, as nothing on my wish list was available for the full five nights, and B. the riads were no more than a 15 minute walk apart so it made moving accommodation pretty easy.  I recommend staying in a couple of different places, I’d definitely do the same again, as you can explore a new part of the medina in each location you stay in.

So let’s get to it, and check out these 3 affordable luxury riads in Marrakech …

Les Yeux Bleus

3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
riad les yeux bleus marrakech
riads in marrakech
luxury riad marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
marrakech luxury riad
riad les yeux bleus marrakech

Riad Les Yeux Bleus is located in the Bab Doukkala district of the medina, and a ten minute walk from Jemaa el Fna square (very touristy and full of snake charmers and monkeys on leashes which makes me sad!).

Inside the riad you’ll find two pools.  A large one on the ground floor, and a smaller one on the roof top terrace.  Breakfast is served around either pool each morning at a time of your choosing.  We dined on the rooftop both mornings, and enjoyed the warm sun as we drank coffee, and planned our day.

Les Yeux Bleus has eight beautiful rooms, all individually decorated.  Our room, located next to the ground floor pool was very large, along with a big en suite bathroom.

The interior decoration is beautiful, and you’ll find plenty of cosy little spots around the riad to relax, a library to read a book in, there’s also a full spa service including massage and hammam.

I loved this riad, it is extremely large and spacious, and oozes peace and tranquility.

Phone No: +212 524 378161
Address: 7 Derb El Ferrane, Bab Doukkala, Medina, Marrakech, Morocco
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
marrakech luxury riad
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech

Snan13 Marrakech

Snan13 Marrakech
Snan13 Marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
Snan13 Marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
snan13 marrakech

Located in Mouassine, just minutes from Jemaa El Fna Square, Snan13 is tucked away in a quiet, but very central spot in the medina.

From the moment we stepped inside the doors of Snan13, we were smitten.  This riad is breathtakingly beautiful.  White walls with the most gorgeous pink and orange Bouganvilliers spilling out over the top of the courtyard.  The service at Snan13 is impeccable, we felt like we were being greeted by old friends. Nothing was ever too much trouble, and all the recommendations given by the staff were spot on.

This is a riad where you’ll be surrounded by calm and beauty. Despite being in the medina, it was quiet, and so peaceful!

Snan13 has one grand suite and five double bedrooms, all individually decorated to an extremely high standard.  Our room was facing the patio where there is a swimming pool and a dining area.  I could literally climb out the bedroom window into the pool!  Around the riad you’ll find different lounge areas to relax in, and a large roof terrace where we were served a lovely breakfast.

I’m almost tempted to keep this place a secret as it’s so special!  If you want to feel like you’ve found a jewel amongst Marrakech’s riads, I truly recommend this amazing place.

Email: info@riadsnan13.com
Phone: +212 524 38 19 97
Address: Mouassine, Derb Snan 13. (Medina) 40030, Marrakech, Morocco

3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
marrakech luxury riad
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
beautiful marrakech riad
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech

Numa Marrakech

3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
riad numa marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
numa marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech

Numa is located in Rahba Lakdima, very close to Jemaa El Fna Square and in a really great, central location, also close to Place des Épices, a lovely square selling everything from woven baskets to hats, and surrounded by some great cafes.

If you love design, you’ll fall in love with Numa.  This place is so incredibly chic, my mouth dropped open as I walked into the courtyard.

In the courtyard, you’ll be served the most amazing breakfast each morning.  I’m not a breakfast consumer but I made sure I got up each morning to enjoy this spread!  On the first floor you can relax on sun loungers and take a dip in the very elegant looking pool.  Further up on the roof terrace, you’ll find more loungers and sofas to relax and soak up the sun on.  There is also a traditional hammam and a massage room.

Numa has six rooms, of which some are suites, and their interior design is an amazing sight to see.  Our bedroom was on the ground floor, opening up to the patio.  The room itself was minimalist chic, and I really didn’t want to leave on the day of our departure!

The staff, dressed in the coolest outfits, are down to earth, super helpful and always with a smile on their face.

If you want chic, designer and cool, this is the riad for you.

Email: info@numamarrakech.com
Phone: +212(0) 614-563683  +212(0) 524384664
Address: 37 Derba Aarjan, Rahaba Lakdima, Marrakech, Morocco

3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
marrakech luxury riad
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
numa marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
numa marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech
3 affordable luxury riads in marrakech

London’s New H&M Home Concept Store

London H&M Home Store
H&M Home Concept Store London

Being a huge lover of home interiors, I was so excited to get a sneak peak at the new H&M HOME Concept Store at 208 Regent Street, in April.   700 square metres, across two floors, the store is a dream!

H&M London
London H&M Home Store
H&M Home Concept Store

Stocking everything from kitchenware to dressing gowns, what I love about this new concept store are the little extra’s on offer.   You’ll find Bunches by Blomrum florist in store, where customers can mix and match fresh flowers to create their own bouquet.

H&M Home Regent Street
H&M
H&M Home Concept Store

There is also a monogramming service for added personalisation. If at any point you need a shopping break, you can head into H&M’s Swedish cafe It’s Pleat.   Selling a range of fresh, organic and locally-sourced produce, with everything packaged using plant-based, decomposable materials.

London H&M Home Store

A beautiful space, selling chic and affordable items, this new H&M Home Concept Store is definitely my new go-to store for home decor and accessories.

H&M Home Concept Store
H&M Home Concept Store
H&M Home Concept Store

H&M Home
208 Regent Street, W1B 5BD
Mon – Sat 10.00am – 9.00pm
Sun 12.00pm – 6.00pm