In our 5 Shops series, we’ll point you in the direction of our favorite independent shops across some of the world’s best cities. From food markets to bookshops, vintage and homegrown design, we’ve found a diverse and exciting mix of local retailers where you can pick up one-of-a-kind pieces.
I remember my first visit to Marrakesh wandering wide-eyed through the Medina, buying as much as I could cram into my suitcase as possible, promising to return one day with an empty vehicle and fill it. I never actually thought I would, but I finally did in 2019 when I drove from the UK to Morocco to live. So, in the end, it wasn’t a vehicle I filled; it was a house and a new life.
I love shopping in Marrakesh for the buzz of being amongst so much creativity, and the opportunity to meet the makers and buy handmade products at source. The Medina, a shopper’s paradise, offers endless opportunities to wander, rummage and barter. This bustling artisan hub features a wide range of options, from traditional souk stalls to upscale designer boutiques. Gueliz is another great shopping area, provided you swap the central boulevard high-street stores for the independent boutiques on the leafy sidestreets that showcase local design and craftsmanship.
Don’t know where to start? Here are five of the best independent shops and markets in the city where you’ll find something unique to take home.
Best for souvenirs: Caravan Serai
This new consortium is a one-stop shop for your Marrakech gift and souvenir shopping. To find it, start from the Dar el Bacha museum and walk east 250 meters along a narrow pedestrianized street. There’s no shop sign outside, and the fact that it’s so deliberately obscure makes it even more special. Look out for billowing fabric sheets overhead and then step off a narrow alley into an open-air artisan market with a dozen stalls under one roof.
It’s new, clean and organized with a well-curated mix of small and large items, mostly locally-made rattan baskets, rugs, lanterns, ceramics, glassware, brassware, and fridge magnets. Be prepared to negotiate prices.
I’m a sucker for the basket bags – light to carry, travel well, made by hand, a natural material, and affordable. Depending on style and detail, expect to pay between 150-250 MAD ($15 – $20).
A guide to haggling in Marrakesh
Best for local design: Hanout Boutique
If you’re looking for Moroccan-made stylish, chic and cool couture, Hanout Boutique has you covered. Moroccan owner and designer Meriem Nour studied fashion at Central St Martins in London and combines the streetwear style of the UK capital with Moroccan elegance with clothes for daywear and special occasions. Think beautifully tailored skirts, shirts, floor-length kaftans and flowing dresses in colorful silk, wool and cotton.
Nour designs the clothes for this womenswear brand, and a team of seamstresses brings them to life in her nearby atelier. Need tweaks to items before taking them home? They can be whizzed off to the atelier, adjusted, and picked up or dropped at your accommodation the same day.
Prices lean on the pricier side. Expect to pay around MAD1950.00 ($193) for a kaftan dress.
Best for vintage: Bab el-Khemis
For real thrift bargains, head to the Bab el-Khemis flea market at the historic Bab el-Khemis Gate and get digging! It’s like a car boot sale where you can buy anything from pottery to brass, glassware and doorknobs. There are a lot of interesting items at this daily (except Fridays) market, but a lot of junk, too, so you have to keep digging to uncover the good stuff.
If you’re looking for vintage-style clothes, try Warda la Mouche by the Djemma el Fna. Technically this should fall under the “local design” category because the items here aren’t pre-loved, but the locally-made designs are all inspired by 19060s and 70s Moroccan fashion with kaftans decorated with handmade embroidery and floaty blouses and trousers. The leather bags with kilim (Moroccan carpet cut-offs) detail would make a lovely memento or gift (from MAD790 / $78).
Best for books: Chatr
Bookstores are rare in Morocco, partly because the art of storytelling is traditionally verbal. Still, there is Librairie Chatr, which opened in 1965. It is one of the oldest bookstores in the city. There are two levels of books and stationery, with the top floor entirely dedicated to Arabic literature. The ground floor has an extensive selection of Moroccan literature in English, French, and Arabic, alongside international classics and current bestsellers (primarily French, but you’ll come across some in English too).
There’s a good stock of travel guidebooks, Moroccan road maps, and a second-hand table for rare finds at bargain prices. It’s fascinating to flick through the large coffee table specialist books on Moroccan history and culture and zoom-ins on different regions like the imposing Sahara.
Best for food: Barbe
On a quiet backstreet in the upscale Gueliz neighborhood, you’ll find Barbe, a beautifully presented deli and wine store. Owner Adnane and his wife traveled the world and came home to Morocco to open this welcoming place with charcuterie, fromagerie, deli goods — and a stunning cork-ceilinged wine cave in the basement.
There’s an excellent selection of artisanal Moroccan products, perfect for gifts or take-homes, including herbal teas, spices, olives, honey, amlou (a Moroccan spread made from toasted almonds, argan oil, and honey), other nut butter spreads (from MAD70 / $7) and an extensive selection of some of Morocco’s best wines.
There’s always a warm and friendly vibe here; Adnane is also a DJ, so you’ll usually be greeted with music and the scent of fresh Bloom coffee brewing.