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Your first dusk walk through the Medina in Marrakech and it soon becomes apparent that nightlife in Marrakech, the old part anyway, isn’t going to be a case of boisterous bars and lively lounges.
There are bars aplenty in the Medina, ranging from gloomy, cupboard-sized ones with a couple of chairs to more conventional, if basic-looking, bars where men (always men) sit transfixed to a TV screen watching football (probably Barcelona as everyone and their cat in Marrakech seems to support Europe’s top dogs). But there’s no alcohol and these are ginless joints for adventurous travellers who are serious about going local.
The other alternative for a popular night-time activity in Marrakech is to get your hair cut. Barbers seem to be at their busiest during the hours of darkness and most have a telly so you don’t have to miss Barcelona demolishing…well…whoever they’re playing.
Outside of the Medina is a different world and the newer areas of the city at Guéliz and Hivernage are home to a range of more international styled bars and clubs that are frequented by locals looking for some less traditional nocturnal action and visitors from the hotels that are mainly located in these areas. The Hotel Renaissance’s Sky Bar is a particularly popular venue for sunset cocktails with views over the Marrakech skyline.
For those more interested in the riad experience in Marrakech who don’t want to stray outside of the old city for a beer, there are a few options. In Marrakech you have to look to the skies to find out where the nocturnal action is taking place as many bars are discreetly located on the city’s rooftops.
The terrace at Café Arabe (184 Rue Mouassine) almost fits the image of a sumptuous Arabian palace too well and the contrast between its rich decòr and well-to-do clients is a bit disconcerting when compared with the simplicity of life in the street below. But it is gorgeous, extremely relaxing and a bottle of local Flag beer is most welcome after negotiating the Medina. It’s also located quite a bit away from the main square, so feels a bit less on the beaten tourist trail.
The street theatre that is also known as Jemaa el Fna at night might be entertainment enough for many, but for a relaxed view of the action with an alcoholic drink in hand head to the terrasse panoramique of one of the restaurant bars around the square ( Café de France, Le Grand Balcon de Café Glacier etc.) many of which are much of a muchness and favoured by tourists who prefer to experience the square from a distance – nice views though. There’s a live music bar/restaurant at La Boheme on a quiet street beside the Tourist Brigade offices on Jemaa el Fna which is worth a visit if you fancy a slice of French kitsch to music.
For more good sunset views (with storks) and even some live music (western pop) later on, Kosybar (47, Place des Ferblantiers) near the Badi Palace is an attractive venue that sells wines from the owner’s vineyards. As darkness falls the views of the little square below aren’t quite as engaging as those at Jemaa el Fna.
Don’t worry if you can’t find a bar that serves alcohol in Marrakech, wander around Jemaa el Fna for long enough and somebody will sidle up to you as though they’re about to sell you a caravan of slave girls, slip a card into your hand and tell you where you can wrap your lips around a cool bottle of beer.
The Price of Drinks in Marrakech
It’s no surprise that the price of alcohol isn’t cheap in bars around Marrakech but considering that many bars are plush in the extreme, neither is it excessive…if you stick to beer and wine. A bottle of local Flag beer costs around 35 dirhams, with Casablanca beer mirroring Heineken at around 55 dirhams. The best value seems to be buy a bottle of Moroccan wine which can come in at around 140-150 dirhams which seems pretty fair to me. They aren’t going to win any awards but a couple of days trekking in the Atlas Mountains helps improve their flavours immensely.