We swapped clubs and cocktails for shopping and sunbeds – and discovered the perfect Mumscapade

The writer Aoife and four of her mother picked Marrakech for their retreat – Aoife O’Riordain

Like many of the best things in life, our Mumscapade happened spontaneously. Five of us (journalist, horticulturist, designer, teacher and soon-to-be psychologist with 10 children between us) had decided that a break from the drudge and drudgery of winter would be in order.

Our calendars aligned and so did our thoughts. We needed the sun, we needed shopping and we needed spending.

There was never any debate about where we would go. For us, Marrakech was the obvious choice and it also felt like the right time to visit. The city was back on its feet and welcoming tourists after the devastating effects of the September 2023 Atlas Mountains earthquake and there were also plenty of new openings.

We stayed in the heart of the media at the Annexe House, which complements the newly opened and stylishly renovated Riad Brummell Medina, an easy walk from the Djemaa el-Fna. Breakfast delivered to our doors every morning. In the evening, we gathered on the roof terrace for drinks while watching the sun sink behind the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque. At night, everything was quiet except for the early morning call to prayer and the cat brawling from time to time.

The group stayed at the stylish Riad Brummell MedinaThe group stayed at the stylish Riad Brummell Medina

The group stayed at the stylish Riad Brummell Medina

This was a trip that was unapologetically light on culture and heavy on retail. Shopping was at the top of our agenda and the souk, one of Marrakech’s hands-on highlights, was on our doorstep. Each evening we would review what we had bought that day, or make a mental note to return to a stall (including one run by a basket vendor we nicknamed Pharrell because of his flaming headgear).

Between rummages, we found time to be completely spoiled at a hammam. The Spa at the La Sultana Hotel in Kasbah Medina was the ideal location due to the underground pool and the overwhelming sense of calm. Still, modesty was left at the door as our therapists ushered us into the steamy suite of the room and laid down on the warm marble as they worked their magic, scrubbing our skin with hammam gloves and black soap and finishing with Argan oil. massage. Later we emerged, blissed-out and blinking, into the heat.

With the temperature hovering in the mid-20s, a day by the pool was non-negotiable. So we left the city behind and took a 40 minute drive to the newly opened Farasha Farmhouse. It is the creation of Rosena and Fred Charmoy, founders of events company Marrakech Boutique Souk, which has organized everything from Madonna’s birthday party to Dior’s catwalk shows.

Riad Brummell Medina has been stylishly renovatedRiad Brummell Medina has been stylishly renovated

Riad Brummell Medina has been stylishly renovated

As you would expect, the farmhouse was designed with fun in mind. It’s ultra-chic in a restrained Morocco-meets-Ibiza way and comes with a show-stopping saltwater pool edged by olive trees and double bedrooms under crocheted umbrellas. Although there are four bedrooms, non-residents can visit on weekend pool days and tuck into a delicious lunch: a good night’s sleep by the pool before heading back to town.

Eating was one of our main priorities. L’mida, hidden in the medina with a boho rooftop terrace overlooking the glamorous sprawl of Marrakech, was a favorite back to her (even the wifi password, ‘ladiesfirst’, seemed to be the message for our trip ). On other nights, we made it to Guéliz, a 10-minute taxi ride away and full of reliably buzzy dinner spots.

Farasha Farmhouse is a great place for a pool dayFarasha Farmhouse is a great place for a pool day

Farasha Farmhouse is a great place for a pool day

Among them, we found +61, an expat enclave during the French Protectorate era that now feels Marrakech in the manner of Melbourne. Then there was Sahbi Sahbi, one of the newest openings in the neighborhood. With a wooden interior with zellige tiles designed by trendy architecture practice Studio KO, it features a menu that celebrates Moroccan dadas (women chefs who cook for their communities) with traditional recipes handed down through the generations.

Our four days together felt like a long conversation full of laughter. We’ve covered every topic we could, running the gamut from air fryers and the best bingeable TV (The bear) to our children’s cell phone addiction and the inevitable menopause.

Farasha Farmhouse is from the founders of events company Marrakech Boutique SoukFarasha Farmhouse is from the founders of events company Marrakech Boutique Souk

Farasha Farmhouse is from the founders of event company Marrakech Boutique Souk

We also finished on a high, treating ourselves to one last night out at the La Mamounia hotel, which has been a beacon of glamor for over 100 years. Baptizing it ‘La Mumounia’, we started with drinks on the orange flower-scented terrace of the Majorelle Bar. Dinner was at Le Marocain, a restaurant set in gardens of soaring palms and delicate roses. With its musicians napping, we were very relaxed enough to try the lamb’s brain, along with less tested dishes such as tagine and couscous.

After dinner, none of us were in a hurry to get home. We picked a final group selfie in the light of the flattering hotel bathroom and went away the quiet streets, on the edge of the Djemaa el-Fna where, even after midnight, the smoke was rising from catering stalls late at night and dinner Berber musicians to huddles of revellers. The break was exactly what we needed – so much so that we have agreed to return at the same time next year. Until then Marrakech, thanks to the Mumories.


Ryanair (ryanair.com), British Airways (ba.com), EasyJet (easyjet.com), Wizz Air (wizzair.com) and Royal Air Maroc (royalairmaroc.com) fly to Marrakech from airports across the UK. A night at Teachan Leasa costs £342 for up to four guests and £513 for up to eight including breakfast (00 212 524 38 58 06, riadbrummell.brummellprojects.com). A day pass to Farasha Farmhouse costs £47, including use of the pool, towels and a three-course lunch (farashafarmhouse.com). Le Marocain and The Majorelle Bar at La Mamounia (mamounia.com) are open to non-residents. A hammam at La Sultana Spa costs £40 (lasultanahotels.com).

Six other mumscapade destinations

Nice, France

The many hotel openings and the Old Town now on the Unesco World Heritage list mean that Nice is no longer just a gateway to the Côte d’Azur. The new Anantara Plaza is a good place to stay (doubles from £440, single room; 00 33 4 93 16 75 75, anantara.com).

Lana, South Tyrol

Is your group more about brisk walks than booze? The beautiful town of Lana is located at the foot of the San Vigilio mountain in the Italian Dolomites: its summit, reached by one of the oldest cable cars in Europe, is threaded with walking paths and is suitable for hiking. Stay at 1447 Reichhalter, a historic town center inn (doubles from £154, single room; 00 39 0473 051 050, 1477reichhalter.com).

Lisbon, Portugal

With atmospheric, rustic trams criss-crossing the city and plenty of easy-to-reach sites, Lisbon has the perfect formula for a few days away. Stay at AlmaLusa Alfama: in a restored 12th-century building, it’s the latest opening from a micro-chic hotel group and has a real sense of place (doubles from £195, B&B; 00 351 21 877 0200, almalusahotels.com).

The Taybank in Dunkeld holds a number of events throughout the yearThe Taybank in Dunkeld holds a number of events throughout the year

The Taybank in Dunkeld holds a number of events throughout the year

Dunkeld, Scotland

Dunkellan is one of the prettiest Highland villages, situated on the Tee with an eclectic high street. There are also seemingly endless walking trails here, with sweeping panoramas of spectacular scenery. Stay at The Taybank, which has five bedrooms, two apartments and an atmospheric restaurant serving gastropub-style dishes (doubles from £170; 01350 677123, thetaybank.co.uk).

Athens, Greece

Not only is it a way to tick off ancient wonders like the Acropolis and the Parthenon, Athens is having a moment. It is full of new energy and a growing creative scene. Stay at Ergon House (doubles from £138, B&B; 00 30 210 0109090, house.ergonfoods.com).

San Sebastián, Spain

A great group break for foodies, San Sebastián is a place to seek out the pintxos bars of the Old Town and cycle around the coast and surrounding countryside. Stay at Room Mate Gorka overlooking Plaza Guipúzcoa (doubles from £82 per night, single room; 00 34 843 98 42 00, room-matehotels.com).


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