Marrakesh

2nd November 2007 at 00:00
It seems everyone these days has a favourite riad in Marrakesh - and more of these converted mansions are opening in the Moroccan city all the time. They are ideal for a sunny winter break. Aside from lounging in the courtyard or on the rooftops, drinking mint tea, there are the souks to explore, or if you're all shopped out by Christmas, try visiting the old madrassas, the 15th- and 16th-century Arab schools of theology, medicine, science and maths.

It's a short three-and-a-half-hour journey with plenty of choice of carrier. Royal Air Maroc, BA, easyJet, Ryanair, Thomsonfly and Moroccan low-cost airline Atlas Blue all fly from Britain. Find out more at www.visitmorocco.com, call 020 7437 0073 or email info@morocco-tourism.org.uk for a list of accommodation.

The Best of Morocco (0845 026 4588, www.realmorocco.com) still has some availability for four-night city breaks over the Christmas holidays, departing on 19 or 20 December. Riad Laora is a small riad deep in the Medina, with a heated courtyard pool and a fireplace in the dining room: BB from pound;545pp. Four riads have become one small luxury hotel at La Sultana, where all the rooms have fireplaces and there's also a spa, lounge bar and library: BB from pound;890pp. Prices include BA flights from Heathrow.

Or take the children and mix Marrakesh into a wider tour on The Adventure Company's eight-day Saharan Sands family adventure (0845 450 5311, www.adventurecompany.co.uk). With departures on December 23 or 27, the tour includes a two-day desert safari by camel, sleeping like Bedouin under the stars, as well as a walking tour of the bazaars of Marrakesh. The price of pound;839 per adult and pound;769 per child (minimum age five) includes flights from Heathrow, all transportation, seven nights' accommodation, most meals and the services of a group leader.

Reader tips

What to do

The souk in the middle is great fun ... although be prepared for snakes. A favourite trick is to try and wrap a snake around your neck and then charge you. You have to haggle to buy everything as no store (except the tourist ones and they rip you off) advertises its prices.

Caroline, Derby

Wear a head covering if you are a woman - I got less hassle in the markets that way. It is the most European of Moroccan cities, but remember, everyone will be pushing for you to buy and they'll all be offering you mint tea to entice you to come into their store. Just decline politely unless you want to fritter away 10 hours on a hard sell for a carpet.

Suzanne, North Yorkshire

Where to go

Squeeze through the bustle and the narrow roads to find the El Bahia palace. Built in the 19th century for a Grand Vizier, its courtyards and gardens are really peaceful.

Geoff, Norfolk

Go into the berber villages in the mountains and eat tagine - it's the best and most authentic goat I've ever had.

Paul, Swansea.

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