I journeyed to Morocco to find magic. Not a cheesy hocus-pocus sort of magic, but a spark. An ignition, really. Something to fuel my inner electricity and remind me that life is still full of surprises. I wanted to gasp. I wanted to be amazed. I wanted to be curious and adventurous.
I wanted to be…photo-bombed by a cobra:
Yes, the first hour of my first day, I found myself fearlessly dancing with a live cobra. Ok, “fearlessly” might be a bit of an exaggeration – initially there might have been some screaming involved. Scared-shitless whimpering, to be precise. But clearly, I became comfortable having a snake draped over my neck like an Hermes scarf. And this, I realized, is how Morocco bewitches you: presenting moments that you never dreamed possible, charming your fear into submission and leaving you craving more. This was the magic I’d come to experience and Marrakech shimmered with it.
As you may suspect, I’m not much of a budget traveler. Although I adore a good adventure, I get grumpy without a little luxury mixed in: comfy beds, good meals, access to a spa and a bathtub the size of my apartment (that last one is negotiable). So when we went in search of a lovely Riad (a traditional Moroccan bed and breakfast) we turned to TripAdvisor and found the oh-so-lovely Riad Granvilier. This little gem is nestled within the beating heart of Jemaa el-Fna square, itself a lovely surprise. We checked in expecting a nice room. What we found was a suite fit for a princess. We expected a nice little rooftop. We found an oasis. We expected good service. We found friends.
A view from the rooftop into the interior courtyard. See the table sprinkled with rose petals? Yeah. Ours.
Mostapha meticulously sets our table for a traditional Moroccan welcoming dinner. Jet lag didn’t keep us from enjoying an amaaaaazing five-course meal of tagine chicken, salads, and this amazing dessert of apples and peaches drizzled with honey:
We loved wandering through the walled neighborhood where our Riad was located – homes were nestled within the walls, behind these elaborate doors – so curious what lies within!
One of the top things on my list: visit the gorgeous Royal Mansour hotel. I’ve blogged about the illustrious interiors before and touring the halls in person was simply breathtaking.
Every single detail was pure perfection, meticulously detailed and yet elegant.
Tile work at the Royal Mansour
Ah, yes, I think I could dine here. In fact, I believe I will my next trip to Marrakech.
I truly could have spent an eternity inspecting every inch of this hotel – and probably would have if my iPad camera battery hadn’t died. Um. Oops.
Perusing one afternoon, I came across this amazing mirror – written in English! – that summed up exactly the attitude you should have when shopping in Marrakech: “Show You Are Not Afraid”
Lounging above the swirling crowds of Jemaa el-Fna square, sipping mint tea on one of the many rooftops, we watched the shadows grow long under the setting sun. Smoke curled from the food stalls below, softening the air and carrying delicious smells up to our perch. Somewhere amid the smoky haze, thousands of voices buzzed like a wasp nest. In the distance, drums thumped like heartbeat, adding a rhythmic structure to the chaos.
Every adventure needs a good, strong dose of adrenaline and we decided floating above the Sahara Desert in a hot air balloon would be the perfect rush. Leaving before daybreak, we watched as the giant balloon rose with the sun, adding a circus quality to the beige, sleepy landscape. Nerves kicked in as we huddled in the tiny basket. Knees knocked. Hearts raced. Deep breath. Deep breath! Lift off! Suddenly, we were floating above the sandy earth, peering down at the dots that used to be goat herders and tiny irrigated gardens kept by Bedouins.
Our fearless pilot, Daniel, manned the balloon and made sure we didn’t plummet to earth. Thanks, Daniel!
After the hot air balloon ride, still on an adrenaline high, we visited a Bedouin woman’s tiny home for tea. Fatima, the hostess, was hilarious, entertaining us with her imitations of Americans drinking whiskey and cackling at her own jokes. Her small home was so warm and wonderfully decorated with color and texture – truly a magical moment.
Of course, my designer-brain wouldn’t be satisfied until I’d gone lamp shopping! Note to self: book a crate for the next trip. I swear I could have purchased nearly every item in this store.
The requisite “aren’t you jealous” dessert shot: flan with fresh strawberries.
The sunset over Marrakech. Le sigh.
You should be proud of my photographic restraint – hundreds of shots document every moment of the trip but I managed to whittled them down to the most essential. No matter how many times I stopped in my tracks to fiddle with my camera, I still failed to capture the pure enchantment of Marrakech, learning that the ancient city exceeds what the lens can see. It’s a full sensory experience, beckoning anyone with a desire for magic. The photos are endless. The stories are endless. Endless too: the valuable reminder I took home with me, that surprises are everywhere if you allow yourself to look.
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100 Derb Jamma, Place Jemma el-Fna
Marrakech 4000, Morocco
I’ve dreamed of Morocco for as long as l can remember and today is The Day!
In mere hours, I’ll settle into a large, metallic tube that will whisk me across the Pond and plop me into Marrakech just in time for mint tea on the rooftop.
Our adventure will find us hovering above the Sahara Desert in a hot air balloon, sipping tea (or cocktails?) at the breathtaking Royal Mansour hotel, and haggling our hearts out for lovely little things to bring home.
Pics will be posted in real-time as often as possible…and you’re invited to join the adventure!
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New blog posts will resume Monday, June 3rd!! Wishing all my darlings fabulous days ahead.
And now it’s time…
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Today I’m working through my massive, pre-trip To Do List (sunscreen, check! awesome floppy hat? check!) because tomorrow I board a plane to Morocco! I’ve reached that butterflies-in-my-stomach level of excitement and my inner travel girl is doing cartwheels. Clearly, I love travel. “Love”? Ok, I’m addicted to travel.
And I know I’m not the only one! For all my fellow travel addicts out there – and those of you with a mild case of Travel on the Brain – I’m excited to share this Luxury Holiday Planner by Sovereign Luxury Travel for great getaway ideas.
Where will you go this summer?
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When the Godfather of Innovative Luxury, Sir Richard Branson, set his sights on this Moroccan resort in 1998, there was no doubt it would quickly capture the imagination of oasis-seekers. Beckoning from the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, just an hour outside of Marrakech, the Kasbah Tamadot shimmers like a fanciful mirage, promising luxuries that could only come from the mind of its shoot-for-the-moon owner.
The North African retreat is part of Branson’s “Virgin Limited Edition Collection” – a well-curated list of locations that offer discreet decadence in some of the world’s most exotic locations. As with every venture that Branson undertakes, the Kasbah Tamadot was spared no expense to achieve excellence.
The resort features a choice of exquisite suites or plush Berber-style tents, complete with private plunge pools or two-person Jacuzzis.
Each room is highly unique, offering a distinct character through the color palettes, upholstery, and breathtaking antiques.
Although the rooms reflect the rich style of Morocco, they stop short of feeling thematic or ostentatious. Instead, they embrace guests with a quiet luxury that is perfect to soothe the mind and soul.
When Sir Richard Branson visits Kasbah Tamadot, he often chooses to stay in Room 31, known as “Tarrat” – the Berber word for virgin.
The views are otherworldly – I truly think I could sit here with a glass of wine for the rest of my life…as long as they keep the wine flowing.
The Berber tents are a brilliant idea for luxury lodging, inviting the Moroccan landscape to mingle uninterrupted with the elegant interiors.
A private pool with a mountain view – also known as Heaven
When the Kasbah Tamadot was acquired in 1998 from renowned art collector Luciano Tempo, a wealth of artifacts came with it, many of which are proudly displayed in the rooms.
I sincerely hope to pay a visit to the Kasbah Tamadot during my Moroccan adventure, beginning next week. Ah, what a dream, to sip good wine on the terrace with Sir Richard Branson and soak up his brand of inspiration as the sun sets behind the Atlas Mountains. Dare to dream.
While we can’t promise a private session with Mr. Branson, we can tell you how to book your own fantasy retreat at the Kasbah Tamadot
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Sales and Reservations Department (UK)
T: 0800 716 919
T: +44 (0)208 600 0430
Sales and Reservations Department (US)
T: 877 577 8777
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Blame it on the day-job, but one of my favorite ways to relax is flipping through the New York Times Real Estate section and imagining how I’d design the empty spaces. Yesterday, my exhausted brain needed a little candy, so I perused available apartments near my neighborhood and stumbled onto this little gem:
Lovely, no? This two-bedroom apartment is so spacious! I love the circular pattern of the floorplan, which to me, makes a space feel even larger. And it has one of my favorite features: exposed brick.
My imagination pretty much ran wild on this one. The space is perfect for practically any style, but I decided to play with a Mid-Century inspired concept:
Disclaimer: This is just an inspiration board, not a furniture-placement suggestion
In this space, I would love to mix pieces and patterns, using Mid-Century elements while jazzing things up with unexpected patterns and colors. Teal blue with yellow will be the anchoring color scheme, adding a rich contrast.
A boldly patterned rug will play nicely with the texture of the brick. And this space will see a lot of wood, leather and metals mingling together like a fabulous cocktail party, providing a sense of luxury without being overt. This space is comfortable, tailored, and party-ready. Would you like a martini?
Sofa: Room and Board / Hutton Sofa
Rug: West Elm / Courtyard Wood Dhurrie
Pillows: Dwell Studio New Hadley
Chandelier: Circa Lighting All Aglow
Leather Lounge Chair: My Modern via 1st Dibs
Knoll Walnut Buffet: Metro Retro Furniture via 1st Dibs
Sunburst Mirror: Zgallery / Avila Mirror
Table Lamps: Circa Lighting / Coupe Table Lamp
Cocktail Table: Design Within Reach
For more on this lovely Midtown West apartment, contact Halstead Properties or take a peek at the NY Times real estate listing here.
Please note, Real Estate Redecorate is purely for creative purposes. The spaces are not measured for accuracy. For your own professional consultation, including accurate floorplans, detailed design inspirations, samples and more, contact Angela Leland Interiors: email@example.com
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I know it’s hard to believe, since freak snowstorms keep spanking much of the country, but Memorial Day – the traditional kick-off to summer – is only 12 days away! Twelve!
That means 12 days until bikinis, barbeques, rooftop drinks, air conditioning bills, sunburns, swimming pools and, if you live in New York, a beach retreat to the Hamptons!
For city dwellers, escaping to the Hamptons is an unparalleled oasis of lush landscapes, cool breezes, and lazing poolside in style. Some are even lucky enough to live there. Dare to dream. And I can’t imagine a more ideal place to loll about, sipping Cucumber Mint Cocktails, than in this eclectic Hamptons home designed by acclaimed designer Kathleen Clements.
Kathleen combines Traditional style with touches of Americana to create an unexpected twist.
I adore the masculine, lived-in feeling of this family room. Black leather? Bold choice for a beach retreat! But it’s done perfectly, combining the sleek style of New York with the easy, breezy cool of the Hamptons.
Surrounded by bright white elements, the otherwise-heavy Chesterfield sofa becomes a perfect anchor for the airy room.
A collection of hand-woven baskets give the space a great earthy texture!
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Black and white stripes seem to be a trend that will never (and should never!) truly end. The simple pattern has a magical ability to look both modern and timeless, flattering and fun, formal and casual. So in honor of the stripes – and for “creative inspirational purposes” (sounds official, no?) – I’ve collected a few of my favorite striped eye-candy. Enjoy!
via Nuevo Estilo
Olivia Palermo rocks the stripes – ’nuff said
via Adore Home Magazine
via House Beautiful / designed by Hillary Thomas and Jeff Lincoln
…the moms who daily pour their hearts into raising amazing human beings…
…the soon-to-be moms who are eager to glimpse that little face…
…the like-my-second-mom moms who step in to fill the gap…
…the forever moms who cherish the moments they had with their angels…
…the hope-to-be moms with nurturing hearts and dreams for the future…
…the step-moms who love us like their own…
…the pet-moms who love their animal babies…
To all the different sorts of moms out there, we wish you all a very Happy Mother’s Day! May you receive beautiful flowers, sincere appreciation, macaroni necklaces, moments of laughter, and maybe even a nap.
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Many of us perform an impressive juggling act every day: tackling to-do lists, climbing corporate ladders, being mommies and daddies and lovers and friends, kissing boo-boos, chasing dreams, and trying not to burn the house down while mastering a new bacon-wrapped shrimp recipe (um, oops!).
But once in a while, we get some “Me Time” – a few hours in the house, nobody around, free to indulge in anything you please. What would you do first? No, no, you will not clean, or return emails or finish painting the bathroom. No, darlings, you deserve to have some fun! Here are some ideas: 25 Decadent Things to Do if You’re Home Alone. Nobody is watching! Be indulgent. Be naughty. Be introspective. And above all: be yourself.
1. Sip champagne in a hot, scented bubble bath
2. Slip into lovely lingerie and watch a romantic movie
3. Turn up the music while whipping up your favorite meal
4. Two words: naked karaoke
5. Try an avocado and honey face mask
6. Kahlua-soaked ice cream for dinner – topped with whipped cream and a cherry, naturally
7. Sit in total silence for 15mins and write down where your mind wanders
8. Create a finger-painted masterpiece on paper, canvas, or hell, the living room wall!
9. Flip through old photographs and write down every detail you remember of the moment
10. Attempt to make S’mores using a chopstick and candle
11. Be an astronomer without changing out of your PJs
12. Build a house of cards – it’s surprisingly meditative!
13. Watch a foreign film – minus the subtitles – and narrate it yourself
14. Read your own palm
15. Discover your personality traits by taking a simplified Myers Briggs test
16. Build a kick-ass fort and curl up in it to read a book by flashlight
17. Dip animal crackers into a can of pure frosting. Yum!!
18. Watch your favorite musical and sing along
19. Jump on the bed. Go ahead, nobody has to know!
20. Have a Tom Cruise moment: rock the air guitar wearing only underwear and socks
21. Bake X-rated -shaped sugar cookies. Frost. Add colorful sprinkles if you’re feeling sassy
22. Do yoga. Pause for sips of chocolate milk through a swirly straw.
23: Tuck a lavender sachet into your pillow and take a lusciously–scented nap
24: Munch on your favorite retro candy (Mike & Ikes? Dots? Cherry Mash?) while watching a big-hair 1980’s movie.
25: Wine. And silence. Ahhhhhhh, that’s kinda what we all need, right?
This is exactly what I look like when sipping wine at my house…
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What would you add to the list?
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