Do you ever wonder what’s on the inside of doors you walk by?
Do you think about the people inside, how the room looks, the decor, the shapes of shadows on the walls?
It’s always intrigued me how many lives and places are completely unknown and undiscovered by us because we opened different doors.
By doors, I also mean choices.
I’ve been thinking about major life choices lately—my sister and forever travel-buddy “R” just moved across the country to a brand new life in San Francisco. New apartment. New furniture. New job. New everything. Each job opportunity would set her life on a different track; each apartment and piece of furniture, a representation of the home she’s building. A new identity.
She had to open A LOT of doors—both real and imagined—to start her new life in San Francisco.
There aren’t bad doors/decisions or good doors/decisions or doors you “shouldn’t have opened”; they are just the doors you went through, either by choice or forced to.
Behind those unopened doors, there are people, of course, and we’ll never know what makes them smile or laugh or cry, we’ll never know the struggles and joys of their lives and what their view of the world is. there are beautiful rooms and artwork you’ll never see. There are opportunities you’ve never even dreamed of.
With so many closed doors in the world, it’s easy to forget that on every side of a closed door is limitless possibility — but you won’t know what’s inside until you open it.
That’s how Marrakech, Morocco felt.
Behind the Doors of Marrakech
I had that thought as I strolled through an endless pink-dust colored concrete maze—what locals and travelers call The Medina.
There’s door after door, tucked between shop stalls selling hand-woven baskets and hand-painted ceramics painted a deep indigo blue. The doors are intricately designed but largely indistinguishable, save for a delicately written name in Arabic cursive or a discreet number.
But here’s what intrigued me the most about Marrakech: inside those doors? PALACES. Hundreds of rooms with fragrant gardens, palatial courtyards with exquisite fountains, hand-painted mosaic tiling, Islamic and Moorish architecture in 150 rooms.
There are a few different kinds of palaces in Marrakech:
- Palaces of the past open to the public.
- Palaces/luxury hotels of the present, that only the super-rich can afford.
- Riads, or small mansions that can be rented like a bed and breakfast.
Every door looks like “not much” from the outside—but once you step inside, you’ll be able to see it’s true beauty and grandeur.
The Bahia Palace in Marrakech was originally built by Grand Vizier (like a prime minister) Si Moussa in the 1860s, for one of his many wives, then further decorated from 1894 to 1900 by slave-turned-vizier Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed. Bahia Palace was intended to be the greatest palace of its time. The name itself means “brilliance” which is probably what Bou Ahmed’s four wives and 24 concubines thought as they hung out in the lavish interiors in one of 160 rooms, courtyards & 8 acres of gardens. The harem would spend their time together before quietly going back to their own rooms. Imagine chillin’ with your husband’s OTHER wives/GFs all damn day while relaxing by the pool cuz your only job is his D. Awkkkkkkwarddddd.
Anyway, to distract them from their sex enslavement, both the petit riad (small palace) and grand riad (big palace) has intricate marquetry and zouak (painted wood) ceilings with a vast grand courtyard, trimmed in bright blue and yellow.
In 1908, the palace attracted warlord Pasha Glaoui, who claimed it as a suitable to entertain French guests. So, the French, doing what they do best in Africa, booted out their host in 1911, installing the protectorate’s resident-general in his place.
Anyway, today, it’s open to the public and you should go visit from 9am to 5pm every day and imagine what your harem would look like IRL. Here’s some pictures I took while I was there.
A royal palace masquerading as a luxury hotel
Rooms here are expensive AF and I did not stay here while visiting Marrakech, but I did visit for Chanel facial and a dip in their pool.
Originally built with NO BUDGET at the orders of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI—it is an exquisitely designed homage to the country’s traditional artisans and elaborate architectural styles of old with the beauty and luxury of the new.
King Mohammed VI loved the idea of a ‘medina within the medina’ to show off the historical crafts and skills of his people. He employed over 1,500 craftsmen and women who built this royal palace in three years. The Royal Mansour is an epic masterpiece and one of the world’s most amazing luxury hotels—the Moroccan King often has his own guests spend time at Royal Mansour.
Each private Riad (mini mansions) is housed in one of the 53 private, rose-hued suites. Each comes with a butler (naturally, cuz hello, you’re royalty!) and are spread over three floors, with its own spectacular roof terrace and its own plunge pool, obviously.
While I didn’t get a chance to explore the private Riads, I did book an unforgettable afternoon for myself. The Royal Mansour Marrakech Spa is a true paradise from the moment you enter: an impressive white wrought iron atrium, evoking a feeling of “is this heaven?” slash “am I in a cage?”. After the greatest indulgence I’ve even given myself, a CHANEL FACIAL, (which I don’t think they offer anymore?) I was off to the glasswork-covered indoor pool to chill with some really nice plants and mint tea.
Let’s take a little tour…
Riad DixNeuf LaKsour
Riad Dixneuf La Ksour is located in the medina (within the ancient city walls). The location is great for walking to the medina and the souks.
Like many riads, there is a pool in the center with several rooms on various floors of the mansion, plus a giant rooftop garden with several seating areas. For more on my hotel review and why I LOVED staying at Riad Dixneuf LaKsour, click here.
I’m finally going back through last year’s European vacation pictures and writing about what we did, where we went, and reviews of where we stayed. if you were following me then, what do you wanna know? If you weren’t, I went to Paris, Marrakech, Morocco and Barcelona, Spain and I’d love to answer ANY questions you have.
🌎AND A QUESTION FOR TRAVEL BLOGGERS: I need to get better about photo editing/blogging it in real time or at the end of the day while it’s still fresh. But I usually fall asleep instead. How the fuck do you do it?!
As always, thank you for reading.