A first-timer’s guide to Marrakesh, Morocco
Marrakech is undoubtedly one of the most mesmerising cities in the world, filled with sights, scents and colour. Work your way through its fascinating neighbourhoods, past its breathtaking architecture, sampling its culinary wonders and discovering its must-do attractions. Morocco’s fabled ‘Rose City’ is a mesmerising metropolis fringed by rolling desert, oasis-like palmeries and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.   Marrakech’s rich heritage dates back nearly a thousand years; what was once an old caravan town along the sub-Saharan trading routes flourished into one of the great cities of the Maghreb. Nowadays the blush-pink ramparts, soaring minarets and medieval-plan medina are a constant reminder of the imperial city’s storied past.   Artists, writers and musicians have long been seduced by Morocco’s ‘Jewel of the South’. Travellers find themselves entranced by the heady atmosphere, riot of colours and chaotic collision of Berber, Arabic and French cultures that lay the foundations of modern Marrakech. Design lovers will delight in the blend of ancient artistry and today’s thriving creative scene that makes up the very fabric of the city.   Iconic French fashion designer and former resident Yves Saint Laurent famously said, “A visit to Marrakech was a great shock to me. The city taught me colour”. Whilst the maze-like medina, with its tangle of alleyways and bustling souks might overwhelm the senses – one can just as easily find respite in the secret rose-scented gardens, the pools of palatial hotels and terrace cafes with sweeping views over rose-tinted rooftops, palm trees and Moorish architecture set against a bright blue sky.   So if you feel the allure of the exotic, chaotic and utterly enchanting Marrakech, here’s our guide to finding the magic among the mayhem. Getting there  Qatar Airways flies from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth to Marrakech via Doha and Casablanca. Best time to visit Avoid the scorching summer. Visit in spring (mid-March to May) when the roses are in bloom in Morocco, or enjoy a mild autumn (from September to November). Neighbourhoods The Medina This is the Marrakech conjured up in everyone’s imagination. Getting lost in the labyrinthine alleyways is all part of the experience. The 11th-century, UNESCO-listed old town is surrounded by 16 kilometres of rammed-earth walls. Once you venture inside one of the city’s grand gates it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. While the dusty, narrow backstreets are mostly for foot traffic, make way for pack-laden donkeys and buzzing motorcycles. [caption id="attachment_47539" align="alignleft" width="600"] Shopping for Berber rugs is a must in the souks.[/caption] The souks (markets) have barely changed in centuries. Souk Semmarine, the main artery that runs through the medina, is piled high with pottery, fabrics, carpets, leatherwork and antiques. As you delve deeper into the vibrant bazaar you’ll witness workmen noisily plying their trade in the blacksmith’s quarter, the dyers’ souk strung with richly coloured skeins of wool, stalls spilling over with leatherwork and handcrafted carpets as well as the Spice Square heavily perfumed with the scent of amber, musk and orange blossom.   You’ll probably hear the carnivalesque Djemaa el Fna before you see it (hint: follow the drumbeats and Gnawa music). It’s the pounding heart of the medina, brought to life at dusk as hundreds of makeshift stalls are spread across the historic square and locals gather for an evening out. Ville Nouvelle During the French protectorate in the 20th century, the ‘New Town’ was built adjacent to the medina. The wide boulevards lined with tangerine trees, European bistros and Art Deco buildings are in stark contrast to the old town.   The Gueliz district is the locale for high-end restaurants, expensive boutiques and numerous art galleries, whilst the upmarket Hivernage, on the western edge of the medina, is where you’ll find the ultra-luxe hotels such as La Mamounia and the Royal Mansour. Mellah The separate 15th-century quarter is where the Jewish community once resided. Remnants of its Jewish history are the Miaara Jewish Cemetery and a few remaining synagogues. Kasbah Bab Agnaou is one of the most impressive gateways into the old citadel. The medina’s southern district is known for its stately Saadian architecture and arty cafes. [caption id="attachment_47544" align="alignleft" width="600"] Locals gather in the medieval walled city[/caption] What to do Sip mint tea overlooking Djemaa el Fna Secure yourself a spot on the terrace of Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier as the sun begins to set. Order a pot of Moroccan mint tea (a sweet amber-coloured tea made with fresh mint and sugar) and sit back to watch the open-air theatre unfold in the famous square below. [caption id="attachment_47549" align="alignleft" width="600"] Tea is served at Riad Yasmine[/caption] There’s a dizzying spectacle of soothsayers, snake charmers, magicians, fire-eaters, drumbeat dancers, airborne acrobats and mischievous monkeys performing tricks. Cooking Moroccan cuisine Learn how to make a tasty tagine, as well as other local favourites at La Maison Arabe’s cooking school. The half-day workshops are run by the historic riad, which was the first in Marrakech to open a restaurant for foreigners and entertained notable guests such as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and Jackie Kennedy.   Your efforts will be rewarded at the end of class when you get to tuck into a feast of Moroccan flavours in the elegant dining room. The workshop costs around $88 per person. Hit up a Hammam A hammam (bathhouse) is a unique Moroccan cleansing and purifying ritual. For first timers, it’s advised to visit a hammam tailored to tourists. Splurge on a spa day at the splendid Royal Mansour, even if it’s just to see the other-worldly, white-laced interiors. Opt for the 75-minute signature treatment. [caption id="attachment_47547" align="alignleft" width="600"] The lush courtyard here is its crowning glory[/caption] Yves Saint Laurent Museum Marrakech’s headline-grabbing attraction opened its doors in 2017. The museum is dedicated to the life and work of celebrated French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The building has a wow factor of its own – curvaceous lines, intricate lace-like brickwork, as well as an earthy terrazzo and terracotta facade. Berber Museum The small but fascinating museum located inside Jacques Majorelle’s former studio is a great introduction to Berber history and culture. The space exhibits over 600 Berber and North African objects collected by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé. La Maison de la Photographie The former fondouk (merchant warehouse) has been repurposed into a gallery for vintage photography. Beautifully curated exhibitions showcase Morocco through the nostalgic lens of the past. Café Clock Located deep within the Kasbah district Café Clock is as much a cultural hub as it is a cafe. Events include hikayat (traditional storytelling) evenings and Berber-style music and dancing. If you do stop by for lunch, order the legendary camel burger. Secret Garden The recently renovated Le Jardin Secret has opened its doors to the public. It’s a true sanctuary in the Moussaine district of the medina. Find shade beneath the elaborate pavilion, take a stroll through the palatial grounds and admire the gardens brimming with lavender and fruit trees – olive, pomegranate, fig and date to name a few. There’s an admission fee of about $7 for the gardens. Jardin Majorelle The botanical oasis dreamt up by French painter Jacques Majorelle is a must-visit for fashionistas as the iconic blue villa later became the home of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. The couple found inspiration in the dreamy setting, where whimsical grounds are bursting with vivid bougainvillea, bamboo pathways and lofty cacti. [caption id="attachment_47541" align="alignleft" width="600"] Inside the Jardin Majorelle, with its signature blue villa.[/caption] Beldi Country Club A charming hotel favoured by glamorous jet-setter types, Beldi Country Club is a mere 15 minutes away from the city centre on the outskirts of Marrakech. Here you’ll uncover an eco-chic paradise – a sprawling five-hectare retreat with swimming pools, ancient olive trees, rose gardens and a glorious greenhouse. Where to shop Travellers have no trouble parting with their dirhams in this city. After your first spin around the souks, you’re likely to have walked away with a Berber rug under your arm and a pair of butter-soft babouche (leather slippers) on your feet. Once you’ve exhausted the souks, here are some worthwhile retail alternatives. Leave room in your luggage. In fact, bring an empty suitcase! Souk Cherifa A hip galleria-style shopping spot with boutiques sandwiched among the traditional souks. The stores are located in Mouassine neighbourhood, a somewhat up-and-coming design district within the medina. [caption id="attachment_47542" align="alignleft" width="600"] Exploring the souks of the medina is a quintessential Marrakech experience[/caption] Chabi Chic It won’t surprise you to know that two very stylish Parisian women are behind this contemporary store in the heart of the medina; it sells pottery, tableware, decorative objects and fashion accessories. Mustapha Blaoui This long-standing emporium is a treasure trove of beautiful Moroccan pieces; from intricate lamps, quality carpets to larger furniture. La Maison ArtC A high-end boutique in Gueliz run by Israeli designer Artsi Ifrah who lives and works in Marrakech making one-of-a-kind pieces from vintage fabrics. Historical sites El Badi Palace Visit the scattered ruins of a Saadian sultan’s 16th-century palace. The grand scale of the complex hints at El Badi Palace’s former glory, meanwhile beauty can still be found in the shimmering pools and sunken gardens. [caption id="attachment_47543" align="alignleft" width="600"] The ruins of 16-century El Badi Palace[/caption] The Saadian Tombs Said to be the only remains of the Saadian dynasty that ruled over Marrakech during the golden age of 1524–1659. Impressively laid with Carrara marble and decorative plasterwork, the extravagantly embellished tombs were long forgotten until they were rediscovered in 1917. Romantic spots A riad is a centuries-old Moroccan mansion transformed into a guesthouse, typically with an interior courtyard. Marrakech is the mecca of Morocco’s hip riad scene, with hundreds of atmospheric and often very affordable lodgings in the heart of the ancient medina. Hidden behind nondescript doors, many riads vaunt lush gardens, idyllic pools and sun-soaked rooftop terraces. [caption id="attachment_47545" align="alignleft" width="600"] Riad Yasmine’s photogenic plunge pool[/caption] El Fenn This eye-catching riad is luxuriously outfitted by Vanessa Branson (sister of Richard Branson) and Howell James. El Fenn remains a perennial favourite for aesthetes as each corner of this exquisite guesthouse pops with jewel-like colours and contemporary art. L’Hôtel Marrakech The passion project of British designer Jasper Conran, where guests sleep in luxe salons, each with a four-poster bed. The swoon-worthy interiors recall the glamour of the 1930s and boast Conran’s own personal collection of antiques. Dar Kawa Talented Belgian tastemaker and textile designer Valérie Barkowski transformed her Marrakech residence (formerly a 17th-century townhouse) into an intimate guesthouse. A sophisticated monochrome palette of black and smoky-grey is set against a bright, white backdrop. Riad Yasmine If you don’t mind sharing the sun loungers with a few posing Instagram influencers, taking a dip in this picture-perfect plunge pool is one of the perks of staying at Riad Yasmine. Riad Secret Jardin As the name suggests this is a peaceful haven, cleverly concealed behind heavy cedar doors. It’s owned and run by former French fashion duo Cyrielle and Julien, and while the saffron-yellow tadelakt (plastered) walls, stucco arches and filigree balustrades all impress, it’s the lush courtyard that makes it truly special. [caption id="attachment_47546" align="alignleft" width="600"] On the roof at the peaceful haven of Riad Secret Jardin[/caption] Riad Mena & Beyond This six-room riad is a design-enthusiast’s dream, with individually bedecked rooms that combine mid-century minimalism with Moroccan style. Plus, it has Philippe Starck-designed bathrooms, a heated outdoor pool and a bougainvillea-draped courtyard. [caption id="attachment_47540" align="alignleft" width="600"] Tranquil spots are easy to find at Riad Mena & Beyond[/caption] Where to see architecture  Ben Youssef Madrasa This 14th-century masterpiece was once the largest Qur’anic school in North Africa. It remains one of the finest examples of Arabic architecture in Marrakech. Koutoubia Mosque While non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques in Morocco, you can admire the towering minaret from across the city and listen as the muezzin’s call to prayer echoes throughout the walls of the medina. [caption id="attachment_47538" align="alignleft" width="600"] The towering Koutoubia Mosque[/caption] La Bahia Palace The opulent 19th-century palace was once home to the harem of notorious vizier Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed, with sumptuous rooms for his four wives and 24 concubines. Exceptional examples of Moroccan craftsmanship can be admired in the details here.
How to spend 48 Hours in Cape Town
The South African city’s dining scene serves up everything from artisan coffee to buzzing bazaars, hipster eat streets and fine diners. Embarks on a food safari. DAY ONE 9.30am: Coffee confidence “Do I look focused?” asks Nasha, star graduate of Origin Coffee Roasting’s barista school and a self-described modern coffee wayfarer. “Well, I am.” The Zimbabwean loves an audience, and coffee-tasting demonstrations here provide a pre-converted one. [caption id="attachment_47404" align="alignleft" width="600"] Meet Origin Coffee Roasting’s expert barista Nasha[/caption] “Mum had a white friend who used to drink coffee obsessively and I was fascinated because we didn’t drink it,” he says. “When I came here, I saw it everywhere. I thought, I’m gonna be an expert.”   The fact that 12-year-old Origin, on Hudson Street in the trendy De Waterkant district, lays claim to being the city’s original ‘good coffee’ place tells you just how recent the ‘scene’ here is. The 22 year old raves about the relative merits of the aeropress versus the yama siphon, and then explains why Rwandan and Tanzanian beans are better than the altitudinally challenged local ones.   “I’m just an expert in ratio and time,” he says. The brews he serves up over the post-industrial counter confirms his substance matches his style. 10.45am: Looking for ‘bunny’ Nowhere lays this city’s cultural idiosyncrasies on the table better and faster than Eastern Food Bazaar on Longmarket Street in the city centre. To the sheltered traveller, the canteen is a cave of chaos, but it has its own natural flows and rhythms; queues sprout and wither equally speedily in the dual-entrance mall.   Ten shops purvey shawarmas, tandoor dosas, local sweet biryanis et al, celebrating Cape Town’s Asian and sub-continental food heritage. Local carb-and-curry overload ‘bunny chow’ best represents this: a loaf of white bread, de-cored, then filled with the not-too-spicy, fragrant and sweet Cape Malay curry.   It should sate a couple comfortably for 50 rand ($5). 12.30pm: Bree there or be square Legend has it that if you walk from one end of Bree Street to the other, at least one brand-new boutique will have sprung up by the time you walk back down it again. This is Cape Town’s coolest foodie corridor, a breath of culinary fresh air compared to tourist-magnet Long Street, a couple of blocks over. [caption id="attachment_47407" align="alignleft" width="600"] Stroll buzzy Bree Street[/caption] The pick of Bree’s eateries is Chefs Warehouse and Canteen, with its ever-changing tapas menu. It doesn’t take reservations, but you can wait at No Reservations bar for a free table. For a side of something different with your lunch, check out cafe and art space Red! The Gallery or FOLK COFFEE ANTHROPOLOGY, which has plenty of books to thumb through over coffee.   Or join the Cape’s beautiful people at Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room, with its fresh juices and all-day breakfasts, or at purveyor of ‘slow fast food’ Cafe Frank. Don’t miss nearby Bree Street institution Jason Bakery, where you can tuck into a ‘bacon chilli popper’ sandwich with freshly baked bread, a hand-made bagel with all the works, a filled brioche doughnut or carrot cake cheesecake. [caption id="attachment_47402" align="alignleft" width="600"] Don’t miss a sweet treat from Jason Bakery on Bree Street[/caption] 3.45pm: Grown-up shakes Where Bree Street peters out to the south, pop over one block to the Fire and Ice bar at Protea Hotel on New Church Street to peruse the ‘grown-up’ milkshake menu. Distrust your initial instincts; the marshmallow, caramel and pumpkin milkshake is the bomb. No, really. 6.45pm: Sushi surprise This may be the first time that I’ve recommended dinner at a shopping mall restaurant, but always eat where the locals do, as the maxim goes. Walk past the well-heeled stores at the Gucci end of Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre (V&A Waterfront) to the weirdly sophisticated Willoughby & Co for hands down some of SA’s finest sushi.   The ‘4x4 rainbow reloaded’ selection is on another level, especially the spicy and creamy rock shrimp roll. If sushi’s not your thing, try the line-fish curry.   There may be a queue, but you can order (and drink) a glass of wine to make the time fly. 8.45pm: DRINK IN the View Head back to your accommodation on the V&A Waterfront for a nightcap. The five-star Silo Hotel is located above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (which houses Africa’s largest collection of contemporary African art), in the elevator portion of a historical grain silo. [caption id="attachment_47406" align="alignleft" width="600"] Spend some time on the V&A Waterfront[/caption] The hotel’s new-look exterior was designed by Heatherwick Studio, its 28 rooms are funky and art-focused, and its sixth floor Willaston Bar – serving cocktails and local and international wine – affords majestic views of the city and Table Mountain through its pillowed glass windows. DAY 2 9am: Pastels with flavour Working-class Bo-Kaap (literally, ‘above the Cape’) district has the prettiest gathering of pastel houses in Africa, which will live long in your Instagram feed. Traditionally the hue of each house represented the trade of the householder (or which colour paint was on sale that day, so goes the local gag). [caption id="attachment_47405" align="alignleft" width="600"] See the colourful houses of Bo-Kaap[/caption] Start your morning’s exploration of the area on a high at Harvest Cafe & Deli, an airy plant-filled space that serves beautifully presented dishes so tasty you might forget they’re good for you too.   Try a signature smoothie bowl (think spirulina, avocado, lime and banana with homemade salted chocolate granola, pomegranate and coconut) or pumpkin fritters with Greek yoghurt, berries and maple syrup, a twist on a South African classic. Best enjoyed on the building’s rooftop, with its panoramic views of Bo-Kaap and beyond. [caption id="attachment_47403" align="alignleft" width="600"] Eat breakfast at Harvest[/caption] 11am: Visit mom and pop Bo-Kaap, where freed Malay and mixed-race slaves settled, also happens to be its own mini food safari.   The trick is to poke your nose into all the little mom-and-pop cafes and tuck shops. Atlas Trading Company is a nice education in Cape Malay spice culture. Don’t miss the wee corner shop next to Biesmiellah restaurant for a traditional koeksister (deep-fried doughnut with honey glaze). 11.45am: Garden of eatin’ For the first time in 300 years, edible plants return to the Cape’s CBD. The traditional botanic Company’s Garden (the old Dutch East India Company property) hosts allotments for nearby Bo-Kaap families. [caption id="attachment_47409" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Old Biscuit Mill is a hub of art and cuisine[/caption] The permaculture veggie patches overflow with everything from gooseberries and grapes to wild garlic and sour figs plus a plethora of indigenous plants used in the prolific home-remedy industry.   It’s supposed to be look-but-don’t-taste, unless of course you chat to one of the gardeners. 1.15pm: The Devil’s drink Frankly, you’d have to be an idiot not to find a quality bottle of wine in Cape Town, but traditionally the same could not be said for beer.   Thankfully, the whole micro-brewery party is underway in earnest. On the cusp of mercurial Woodstock, you’ll find taprooms for party-starter Devil’s Peak Brewing Company, a vanguard that helped instil in South Africans that there is more to life than Castle lager.   The hero of the five micro-brew-and-food pairing is the nuptial between the zesty King’s Blockhouse IPA and extra-zesty Sriracha chicken. The view over actual Devil’s Peak (mountain) becomes more intense with every sip. 3.45pm: The Woodstock revival (for the rest of the day) Woodstock used to be the wrong side of the tracks (literally), a seedy side of town to say the least. Artists started to colonise it during the early noughties, redefining the vibe, until the multicultural neighbourhood became an artisanal circus of cafes, gin distilleries and galleries, with something different happening every night of the week. [caption id="attachment_47401" align="alignleft" width="600"] Dine in the ‘Light Room’ at experimental Test Kitchen[/caption] All roads lead to cuisine-and-art-hub The Old Biscuit Mill. Shop for presents of thought-provoking homewares in its artsy shops, then take a tour of the bean-to-bar Cocoafair for some pre-dinner Fairtrade 71 per cent ginger dark choccy.   Fortuitously, The Old Biscuit Mill happens to house two of South Africa’s most innovative and best restaurants, both brainchildren of chef Luke Dale-Roberts. The star is craftily designed Test Kitchen, which as the name gives away, is ‘a creative world of experimentation’.   Suffice to say, whether you choose this one or the Pot Luck Club – where sharing dishes are divided into five basic tastes: salty, sour, sweet, umami and bitter – this last stop on your food safari should be booked thoroughly in advance.
The best and brightest hotel openings around the world
The latest and greatest hotels, resorts and unique stays to check into and check out right now. Kāmana Lakehouse, Queenstown, New Zealand Kāmana Lakehouse is the latest addition to Queenstown’s hotel offering. [caption id="attachment_47314" align="alignleft" width="600"] The beauty of the Kamana Lakehouse[/caption] Located high above Wakatipu Lake, the boutique property’s 73 rooms feature contemporary design (inspired by the Kāmana bird and its natural habitat) and luxe amenities, while the Living Space provides guests with a convivial social space complete with fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows with views to the lake and the surrounding mountains. LUX North Male Atoll, Maldives With bright jolts of colour that pop against the endless blue of sky and sea, LUX* North Male Atoll in the Maldives sets itself apart from other properties in this paradise. [caption id="attachment_47313" align="alignleft" width="600"] Walk the jetty at the new Lux Maldives[/caption] Its 67 two-storey residences sit on the beach or over water, each boasting a rooftop area, private pool and butler-style host. There are numerous restaurants, one overseen by the Maldives’ only Peruvian chef, Beach Rouge with its pool-club vibe, and an over-lagoon wellness spa. Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong Reflecting Phuket’s unique history and culture through its decor and guest experiences, the 180 spacious and vibrant rooms of Hotel Indigo mimic the area’s tropical location and buzzy nightlife. [caption id="attachment_47310" align="alignleft" width="600"] Take in the views at The Cloud rooftop swimming pool[/caption] There’s also a 24-hour fitness centre, authentic local dining experiences and a Muay Thai boxing ring with professional trainer on site. Four Seasons Bengaluru In the Indian city of Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), Four Seasons has installed the 230-room Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru and Four Seasons Private Residences into the hospitality, retail and corporate Embassy ONE development. [caption id="attachment_47309" align="alignleft" width="600"] Outside the Four Seasons[/caption] Conveniently located 30 minutes from the airport and well connected to the CBD, the sleek hotel features a selection of dining options, a pool, lush botanic gardens and spa. Iraph Sui, Okinawa Located in Japan’s unique tropical paradise, the luxurious rooms of this boutique property all have balconies overlooking white-sand beaches, with several boasting private pools. Plus the spa incorporates local Okinawan ingredients. [caption id="attachment_47311" align="alignleft" width="600"] The pool at the Iraph Sui[/caption] Tengile River Lodge, South Africa Luxury safari and experiential travel company andBeyond has recently opened the brand new Tengile River Lodge, a luxurious lodge in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve, and boy is it magical. The nine-suite lodge offers a high level of exclusivity and sense of tranquillity with a contemporary bush design. Each of the suites features a private deck with a swimming pool, an outdoor lounge and a master bedroom that opens out onto a luxurious bathroom with an outdoor shower and views over the river. Built with an extremely light footprint, using sustainable construction materials and an environmentally friendly design, the lodge has also been cleverly positioned on a bend of the Sand River, so that each suite is nestled in the tree line along the riverfront and boasts a magnificent view out over the Sand River, an area inhabited by a world-renowned diversity of wildlife. The elegant design concept is based around blending luxury with the natural landscape and bringing the outdoors inside, drawing inspiration from the textures of the surrounding bush. Pullman Luang Prabang, Laos This new five-star resort is located 10 minutes away by car from Luang Prabang’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town. [caption id="attachment_44535" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Located in Luang Prabang, it is within 2.9 miles of Night Market and 3 miles of Mount Phousy[/caption]   Its 16 hectares encompass 123 modern guest rooms with large terraces, a two-bedroom villa and a healthy scattering of infinity pools and streams. The Pullman Luang Prabang is now the largest hotel in town, but its low-rise architecture – which draws on traditional Laotian influences – sees it blend in well with the surrounding natural landscape.   Guests can dine on international cuisine at L’Atelier and sink a cocktail overlooking paddy fields at the Junction. One&Only Nyungwe House, Rwanda   Promising a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, One&Only Nyungwe House sits within the dense Green Expanse of a tea plantation, next to Ancient Montane rainforest.   Wild experiences such as chimpanzee Trekking or walking among majestic mahogany trees allow guests to max out the incredible setting.   The 23 rooms and suites combine local African craftsmanship with a contemporary look and feel, Plus there’s a Spa that uses natural products from luxury brand Africology. FREIgeist Göttingen, Germany   Located in the historic university town of Göttingen, in Germany’s Lower Saxony, Hotel Freigeist is a relentlessly modern new build (and a member of Design Hotels) featuring 118 rooms.   The décor continues the theme, with wood and copper fittings throughout contrasted against a palette of grey bricks, neutrals and shots of blue, and Basquiat-inspired artwork.   The whole thing has a Nordic vibe (enhanced by the on-site sauna), but in Intuu, its signature restaurant, it’s Japanese/South AmericaN Fusion all the way. Omaanda, Namibia   Omaanda is nestled in the Namibian savannah in the heart of the Zannier private animal reserve. Its 9000-hectare footprint, which offers lashings of peace and quiet and natural beauty, houses 10 luxury huts inspired by traditional Owambo architecture.   Ambo Delights restaurant offers cuisine inspired by the best local produce, while the bar at the edge of the heated swimming pool has views over the savannah. The Shangai Edition    A perfect blend of old and new Shanghai, the 145-room Shanghai EDITION sees Nanjing Road’s 1929 Art Deco Shanghai Power Company building fused with a new-build skyscraper.   Its various food and drink options include star chef Jason Atherton’s HIYA (translated to ‘clouds in the sky’), a Japanese izakaya-inspired eatery on the 27th floor. Six Senses Maxwell, Singapore   The Six Senses group has had a busy year, having already opened properties in Singapore and Fiji; now comes Six Senses Maxwell.   A sister property to Six Senses Duxton, the wellness brand’s first city hotel, the 120-room property is also retrofitted into a historic Singapore colonial-style building and features Euro-chic interiors courtesy of French architect and designer Jacques Garcia. The Apurva Kempinski, Bali   The first Kempinski hotel to open in Bali is a suitably grand reflection of Balinese architecture and craftsmanship.   Situated in the Nusa Dua area of the island, the hotel boasts 475 rooms, suites and villas and all the requisite inclusions expected from the luxury brand, from five dining options to a 60-metre swimming pool to an ocean-facing spa and a cigar and shisha lounge.   It even has its own beachfront wedding chapels.  
Rabat Morocco Africa
City guide to Rabat, Morocco
Look past the Moroccan greats of Casablanca, Marrakesh and Fez to discover Morocco's capital Rabat, brim full of ancient treasures. Rabat is known for Old medina, the beautiful Kasbah, Souq shopping Rabat's Eat streets When dining in Rabat you should sample the best of both the Moroccan tradition and the French colonial influence.   A much-loved traditional restaurant can be found in the old medina. Dinarjat (+212 37 70 42 39) adds a little theatre to proceedings: you’ll be met at the medina gates by a man in traditional dress bearing a lantern who leads you through the labyrinth of old streets to the old wooden door of the restaurant. [caption id="attachment_31353" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Mosque in the old town of Rabat, Morocco.[/caption] Inside a 17th-century mansion you choose from a classic menu of lamb tagine, couscous and salads under vaulted ceilings.   For a taste of France, head to Le Grand Comptoir. Housed in a restored 1930s Art Deco building, it has that Casablanca romance; a place of martinis, jazz and rare steak. Out and about in Rabat If you only have a day or two in Rabat head straight for the 17th-century walled Medina, a rabbit warren of streets that carry that old North African sense of romance and adventure.   Dip in and out of the souqs and cafes and you could get lost, but not for long as you’ll eventually hit one of the ancient fortress walls.   Head north up the Rue des Consuls past grand old courtyards before leaving the Medina and entering another of Rabat’s treasures, the beautiful Kasbah les Oudaias, through the spectacular Bab Oudaia gate.   Relax in the Andalusian Gardens here and wander the narrow streets and blue-and-white walls of this 12th-century citadel that overlooks the Atlantic. Insider’s secret Summer heat getting too much? There's a lovely clean swimming beach right in the city. Retail reconnaissance Make your way to the 14th-century Grande Mosquée de Rabat Medina, which marks the start of Rue Souika, a thoroughfare of shops with the reed-covered Souq as-Sebbat at its eastern end.   Practise your bartering for Moroccan lamps, embroidered babouche slippers, jewellery and fabrics among baskets filled with bright spices and Turkish delight.   Don’t miss the bustling souqs in the neighbouring city of Salé, a short taxi hop over the bridge that crosses the Bou Regreg river.   Salé is known for its carpenters, who produce fine chairs, tables and trays. [caption id="attachment_31354" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Moroccan women and children having fun on a sunny day at the Kasbah des Oudaias beach in the city of Rabat, Africa.[/caption] Stop by one of the woodworking factories to pick up a gift. The ultimate experience Looking like some alien obelisk, the Hassan Tower forms a striking edifice on the banks of the Bou Regreg river.   The 44-metre high minaret, a slab of ornately carved red sandstone, is all that remains of Sultan Yacub al-Mansour’s effort to build the biggest mosque in the world, an attempt that was destroyed by earthquake in 1755.   Take a walk in the surrounding gardens and then catch a five-minute taxi to Rabat’s other must-see sight, the Chellah.   This medieval muslim necropolis was built on top of a Roman Fort. You’ll find the remains of a spectacular mosque here and the ancient ruins now play host to an annual jazz festival in September. Caffeine hits Avenue Mohammed V is a tree-lined boulevard with plenty of shady spots to sit and have a coffee.   Try La Comédie, which bakes its own pastries every day, and watch the world go by. Stay & play Affordable: The Repose has traditionally styled suites in a lovely old riad in Salé’s Medina.   Moderate: Riad Sidi Fatah is set in a traditional mansion in Rabat Medina.   Luxe: With its own hammam, wellness centre and pool, the Relais & Châteaux property Villa Diyafa is the ultimate way to indulge after a day in the hot, crowded souqs.
Sun International
Discover luxurious Africa on a soul-intriguing journey
Immerse yourself in the ultimate in South African luxury Sun International’s Sunlux Collection invites you to discover Africa’s wonders on a truly soul-intriguing journey, from Cape Town’s landmark The Table Bay, within the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront; to the gracious Boardwalk in South Africa’s friendliest city, Port Elizabeth; Sun City’s The Palace of the Lost City, nestled in an extinct volcanic crater surrounded by the Pilanesberg Big-5 nature reserve; the timeless Time Square in Menlyn Maine, Pretoria; and the heart of Johannesburg’s Sandton at The Maslow. [caption id="attachment_44998" align="alignnone" width="600"] Be intrigued by the ancient[/caption] The Table Bay Be captivated by perennial beauty. The Table Bay, opened in May 1997 by former South African president and icon, Nelson Mandela, is situated on the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, in prime position against the exquisite backdrop of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean.   The Maslow Time Square Arrive at the place that’ll take you further. The Maslow Time Square is a specialist 17-floor business hotel situated in South Africa’s first ‘green city’, Pretoria. The hotel is packed with state-of-the-art facilities and technology to satisfy the most switched-on business executive, but with the ability to switch to leisure mode as well.   The Boardwalk Quintessential elegance. Port Elizabeth is rated as South Africa’s friendliest city, with a charming coastal atmosphere perfectly mirrored by this quaint hotel itself. The Boardwalk conjures up scenes from a bygone era and is an ideal place to pursue your wildest or most elegant portside dreams. [caption id="attachment_44999" align="alignnone" width="600"] Be captivated[/caption] The Palace Be intrigued by the ancient. From its inception in 1992, The Palace has enthralled and amazed visitors from all over the globe. This addition to South Africa’s Pilanesberg landscape is dwarfed in years by the 1.3-billion-year-old extinct volcanic site on which it is built; it’s the perfect base from which to explore this timeless place.   The Maslow Sandton The mind’s preoccupation relies on the body’s location. Situated in the heart of Sandton’s financial district in Johannesburg, The Maslow is a specialist business hotel that is consciously positioned as a game-changer as well as a destination for professionals and a portal for travellers to discover unique fascinations within and surrounding this diverse city.   For more information, visit suninternational.com
South Africa.
From surfing and safaris to bright city lights, here are 10 reasons to visit South Africa
 When it comes to travel, Africa is one place on many people's must-visit list. Here are  10 reasons to get yourself to South Africa that you may not have even considered... To go on safari in search of the Big Five Going on your first African safari feels like being on a hushed film set waiting for the key cast members [read: the big five] to arrive. And when they do, it's with all the drama, tension and romance that is implicit on a game drive. What's surprising is how much the bit players – dik-diks, kudu, impalas – steal the spotlight as they scramble for survival. A crash course in astronomy Receiving a crash course in astronomy while standing under a night sky swirling with stars in the middle of the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve is to marvel at the magnificence of the universe. Astrotourism has become a popular safari ritual in South Africa and Ben Coley, of Celestial Events, has a seriously powerful telescope to enhance the experience. To caper up the Cape of Good Hope Geography lessons come to life at the Cape of Good Hope on the Cape Peninsula, a long spindly finger of land pointing south toward Antarctica. Climb to the top of the Old Cape Point Lighthouse where you can marvel up close at the rippling sandstone and swirling blue-green sea below. Be warned: baboons are everywhere so keep your car locked when you pose for that selfie near the Cape of Good Hope sign. Explore SA's largest art museum The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa – Zeitz MOCAA – is one of the world's most important exhibition spaces for contemporary African art. It's a great echoing cavern of steel and concrete and glass located inside a grain silo built on the waterfront in the 1920s. Huge sections of the building's interior have been carved out to create a complex warren of more than 100 gallery spaces. Visit the rainbow-bright neighbourhood of Bo Kaap [caption id="attachment_44236" align="alignnone" width="600"] You have to visit the stunning rainbow-bright neighbourhood of Bo Kaap when you visit South Africa.[/caption] The boxy buildings of Bo Kaap present like a bag of Liquorice Allsorts coloured everything from indigo and fuschia to tangerine and mint green and brightening up the Cape Malay community. Turn your back on the camera-toting crowds and head up the hill to Bo Kaap Kombuis, a restaurant serving traditional Cape Malay cuisine. Coo over the penguins at Boulders Beach The waddling African penguins are not the only reason to make a pilgrimage to Boulders Beach, as the area is strewn with rounded boulders looming like giant sculptures. As well as providing ideal nesting territory for the endangered species, the tumbled rock formations are every bit as photogenic as the resident penguins. Enjoy an African sunset Table Mountain is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and, if there's a defining landmark that shapes Cape Town's skyline it is this. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has revolving floors so visitors get 360-degree views of the mountain and city from the top of the towering escarpment. Experience Steampunk at Truth Coffee, Capetown If you are a fan of steampunk, this is the cafe for you. Steampunk informs the philosophy behind Truth Coffee while paying homage to the movement with its centrepiece: a vintage espresso machine dubbed Professor Jones' Fabulous Coffee Bean Contraption. Truth is equal parts cafe and cult and the steampunk aesthetic filters down to the fashions favoured by the staff. truth.coffee To surf world-class waves [caption id="attachment_44237" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hit the beach for the ultimate surfing in South Africa.[/caption] Jeffrey's Bay is ranked as one of the best surfing destinations in the world. Located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, J-Bay offers rides of up to 800-metres long and includes breaks dubbed Salad Bowls, Coins, Tubes, Kitchen Windows and Impossibles. The best time to surf here is dawn, when the sky is indigo and the seas are stretched like blue denim over the curves of the coast. Yes, it's where Mick Fanning punched a great white during the J-Bay Open surf event, so BYO shark repellent. The grape and the good The Cape Town bar scene is cool and contemporary and includes a range of bars, some more dog-eared than others. The Outrage of Modesty serves cutting-edge cocktails in an old frame theatre with wacky wall art and tiered seating. Nearby, The Gin Bar is aimed squarely at gin geeks. The bar, which is hidden behind the Honest Chocolate Cafe in the CBD, has a charming sand-blasted courtyard and beautifully backlit drinks selection. GETTING THERE Africa Travel specialist Bench Africa has a 13-day Luxury Signature Safari Special that focuses on South Africa. Visit benchafrica.com   There is a SAA flight daily from Perth to Johannesburg operating an A340-300 and A340-600 (connecting with codeshare partner Virgin Australia from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.) Visit flysaa.com
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7 unique sleeps in the world’s best destinations
Expedia travel expert, Lisa Perkovic, passionately believes that where you stay can make or break your holiday. When she travels she seeks accommodation that offers something special to add to her overall experience, from hotels featuring a unique history to those that showcase innovative design. Here, she shares her top picks to add to your bucket list... The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore Once an old spice mill, this boutique hotel is still hot property. With only 37 rooms, it is perfect for a work trip, stopover or a longer break. Perched right on the Singapore River in Robertson Quay, it’s clear there is a focus on highlighting the industrial heritage and showcasing local talent in the form of artwork, furniture and cuisine. Singapore is known for its humidity, so the glass-sided rooftop infinity pool is an added bonus. [caption id="attachment_42015" align="alignleft" width="1000"] The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore[/caption] Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali Hidden away on limestone cliffs 100 metres above the Indian Ocean, the Alila Villas Uluwatu are Bali luxe at its best. Designed with locally sourced and sustainable materials, the minimalist villas all have their own plunge pools, private cabanas as well as indoor and outdoor showers – bliss! Make sure you join a morning yoga class in the Pavilion, with spectacular views to boot. [caption id="attachment_42017" align="alignleft" width="450"] Alila Hotel, Uluwatu, Bali[/caption] Pumphouse Point, Tasmania On the shores of Lake St Clair in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Pumphouse Point is another idyllic hotel with a rich history lovingly brought back to life. Built in the 1930s as a hydroelectricity station, the style is suitably understated – rooms are comfortably appointed so as not to detract from the view, and dinner is a shared affair each night in The Shorehouse. Mount Engadine Lodge, Alberta, Canada Regardless of the season, a stay at Mount Engadine Lodge will not disappoint. Tucked into the mountains in Spray Valley Provincial Park, the scenery year-round is simply jaw-dropping. There’s plenty to do during the day and the all-inclusive property kindly packs you a lunch to take on your adventures. After a day spent outdoors, guests can relax in the laid-back, homely vibe of the lodge. [caption id="attachment_42018" align="alignleft" width="450"] Mount Engadine Lodge, Alberta, Canada[/caption] The Ludlow, New York City, USA Smack bang in the middle of the hip and happening Lower East Side, The Ludlow is surrounded by trendy cafes and shops, and oozes style. Combining an industrial lofty vibe and simple, luxe furnishings, rooms range in size though all have large windows perfect for observing the bustling streets of New York below. Dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Dirty French, which is popular with locals, is a must, as is curling up and enjoying some wine in the cosy lobby bar. [caption id="attachment_42019" align="alignleft" width="868"] The Ludlow, New York City, USA[/caption] 54 On Bath, Johannesburg, South Africa Johannesburg is a major gateway to Africa and an essential stopover for many before they begin their Safari experience. If you’re after comfort and convenience, 54 On Bath is located in the cosmopolitan suburb of Rosebank and is attached to Rosebank Mall. [caption id="attachment_42020" align="alignleft" width="450"] 54 on Bath, Johannesburg, South Africa[/caption] The Mall is home to The Grillhouse, a well-known restaurant serving delicious and affordable steaks. Afternoons are best spent relaxing on the rooftop garden terrace by the lap pool with a gin and tonic. Six Senses Fiji, Malolo Island Recently opened on Malolo Island, part of the Mamanuca Islands, Six Senses Fiji is the island nation’s newest luxury resort. It’s safe to say that the property really ups the ante when it comes to the ‘fly and flop’ holiday Fiji has become synonymous with. The 100 per cent solar-powered resort has 24 private villas, each with their own pools plus options for families or larger groups. There are also three dining venues and a gourmet deli to indulge in. [caption id="attachment_42021" align="alignleft" width="765"] Six Senses Fiji, Malolo Island[/caption] To book one of these amazing hotels, visit Expedia.
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