Philomena Schurer Merckoll was raised between London, Paris, Berlin, and Marrakech, but it’s the latter city that she now calls home. In 2014, she converted her childhood house just outside of the Medina in Marrakech into Riad Mena & Beyond, a six-room gem of an escape in a bustling city filled with countless places to stay. It’s Merckoll’s first foray into hospitality, and as such Riad Mena is full of personal touches—film screenings on the terrace, yoga classes, and her personal art, photography, and books lining the walls and shelves. It’s full of high-end touches, too, like the Phillipe Starck-designed bathrooms, heated pool in the courtyard, and Berber rugs. If you can manage to tear yourself away from your newfound Moroccan home, Merckoll has all the best tips on how to spend your time in Marrakech. Here, she shares her secrets.
The entrance to La Mamounia Hotel. Photo by @lamamouniamarrakech
Where do you go to relax in the city? Do you have a secret hideout?
There's nothing more relaxing than the best martini in town at the Mamounia Hotel.
The interior of the Royal Mansour. Photo by @royalmansour
In your opinion, what is the best hammam?
When it comes to hammams, my belief is the luxier the better! So head to the Mamounia or Royal Mansour Hotels for a pampering scrub down.
The interior of the Berber Lodge. Photo by @berberlodge_
What’s your ideal relaxation day? Where do you like to lie by the pool or spa?
My secret hideout is a little outside the city, a newly opened hotel Berber Lodge. It is total tranquility mixed with low-key design and delicious food. I lie by the pool under the olive trees—it’s really the perfect place to do nothing.
Dinner at Le Grand Café de la Poste. Photo by @grand_cafe_de_la_poste
Where do you take a friend for dinner?
Le Grand Café de la Poste in the new town of Gueliz always has a nice atmosphere, which makes for a cozy evening with friends.
A meal at NOMAD. Photo by @ nomadmarrakech
Is there a restaurant of the moment? What about a food or drink trend?
NOMAD has been the restaurant of the moment for quite some time but is still fantastic. It epitomizes the current trend for a fresher and more creative take on Moroccan food.
A riad in Marrakech. Photo by @simplymorocco
Describe your ideal night out. What is the buzziest bar or club with the most buzz? What’s the drink of choice?
The best nights out are nights in, being invited to a party in someone’s private riad or villa. You understand why Marrakech epitomized decadence in the 70s. That feeling of liberation is still in the air. In town there is also the Teatro nightclub, which is always quite fun.
Crista Seya for Paris Fashion Week. Photo by @cristaseya
Describe your daily uniform. Where do you find these items around the city?
My daily uniform is by a Parisian brand called Crista Seya. The owners are this amazing Italian couple—her mother makes all the knitwear. It’s a family affair. They spend a lot of time in Marrakech and their Japanese cotton shirt dresses and kaftans are the perfect summer wear. In winter, swathing myself in their cashmere kaftan does the trick!
Inside Galerie 127. Photo by @juliettechenaisdebusscher
What are some of your favorite galleries in the city?
My absolute favorite gallery is Galerie 127. The owner Natalie Locatelli curates incredibly thoughtful exhibitions with artists she loves. It's always a visual and cerebral feast!
Outside of Sidi Ghanem. Photo by @atlasrouge
What is the city’s best kept shopping secret?
Most tourists head to the Souks to shop until they drop, but if you know where you are going, the industrial district Sidi Ghanem is the place. The designer Topolina has a huge showroom there, amazing clothes and accessories in wild African prints. Chabi Chic has their biggest shop of beautiful crockery. The best interiors are found there too and super hip Marrakshi Life is about to open a huge atelier. Go to Voice Gallery for a spot of art, and grab lunch at the Frenchie Le Zinc. For true Mararkech people, Sidi Ghanem is the place to be.
Painted ceramic boxes from Moustapha Blaoui. Photo by @mustaphablaoui
Do you have a favorite place for interiors? What about rugs and vintage?
I love Moustapha Blaoui, a one-stop-shop for all the best interiors Marrakech has to offer. Plus, the newly opened Kulchi for an extremely well curated selection of rugs—the owner Cassie is lovely.
Views at Place Jemaa el Fna. Photo by @blopezs
What's the best place for a tea in the city?
High: In the amazing gardens of the Royal Mansour Hotel. Low: Overlooking the magical madness of the Jemaa el Fna at any of the rooftop restaurants surrounding it.
The outdoor terrace at Nord Pinus. Photo by @nordpinus
Where do you go to escape for a weekend?
The Nord Pinus Hotel in Tangiers to take in the sounds of waves and city culture.
Riad Meda and Beyond. Photo by @riadmena_beyond
Tell us about Riad Mena & Beyond—what makes it special?
Riad Mena was originally our family home, so it contains a lot of personal touches that you would not usually find in other hotels. We have known all our staff forever as well, so it really is a hotel experience that feels like you are staying in someone’s rather comfortable and exotic home!
Marrakech countryside. Photo by @theserialholidayer
Latest discovery in the city?
The countryside! It feels so genuine and simple, a true luxury in our fast-paced world.
Hot air ballooning over the Moroccan countryside. Photo by @philbgray
Can't miss activity in Marrakech?
Hot Air Ballooning at sunrise. A little tacky but truly amazing.