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

Writer Aoife and four of her mum friends picked Marrakech for their getaway
Writer Aoife and four of her mum friends picked Marrakech for their getaway - Aoife O'Riordain

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

Our calendars aligned and so did our ideas. We needed sun, we needed shopping and we needed spoiling.

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 following the devastating effects of the earthquake in the Atlas Mountains in September 2023 and there had been a flurry of new openings too.

We stayed at the heart of the medina at Annex House, a standalone addition to the newly-opened and stylish restored Riad Brummell Medina, an easy walk from the Djemaa el-Fna. Breakfast was delivered to our doors every morning. In the evenings, we gathered on the roof terrace for drinks as we watched the sun sink behind the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque. At night, all was silent save for the early morning call to prayer and the occasional brawling cat.

The 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 top of our agenda and the souk, one of Marrakech’s hands-down 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 seller we had nicknamed Pharrell thanks to his flamboyant headwear).

Between rummages, we found time to be thoroughly spoiled at a hammam. The spa at the La Sultana Hotel in Medina’s Kasbah was the ideal spot due to its subterranean pool and overriding sense of calm. Still, modesty was left at the door as we were led by our therapists into the steamy embrace of the chamber and laid down on the warm marble while they worked their magic, scrubbing our skin with hammam gloves and black soap and finishing with an Argan oil massage. Later we emerged, blissed-out and blinking, into the heat.

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

Riad Brummell Medina has been stylishly restored
Riad Brummell Medina has been stylishly restored

As you might expect, the farmhouse has been designed with fun in mind. It’s supremely chic in a restrained Morocco-meets-Ibiza way and comes with a show-stopping saltwater pool edged by olive trees and double loungers beneath crocheted umbrellas. Though there are four bedrooms, non-residents can visit for pool days at weekends and get a delicious lunch thrown in: sleep it off by the pool before heading back into town.

Eating was one of our top priorities. L’mida, hidden away in the medina with a boho rooftop terrace overlooking Marrakech’s enticing sprawl, was a favourite we returned to (even its WiFi password, ‘ladiesfirst’, seemed on message for our trip). On other nights, we made for Guéliz, a 10-minute taxi ride away and full of reliably buzzy dinner spots.

The newly-opened Farasha Farmhouse is a great place fore a pool day
The newly-opened Farasha Farmhouse is a great place fore a pool day

Among them, we found +61, an expat enclave during the French Protectorate era that now feels Marrakech by way of Melbourne. Then there was Sahbi Sahbi, one of the neighbourhood’s newest openings. With a zellige-tiled and wooden interior designed by the fashionable architectural practice Studio KO, it has a menu that celebrates Morocco’s dadas (women chefs who cook for their communities) with traditional recipes handed down through the generations.

Our four days together felt like one long, laughter-filled conversation. We exhausted every possible subject, running the gamut from air-fryers and the best bingeable TV (The Bear) to our children’s mobile phone addictions and the inevitable menopause.

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

We ended on a high too, treating ourselves to a final night out at La Mamounia hotel, a beacon of glamour for more than 100 years. Rechristening it ‘La Mumounia’, we began with drinks on the orange blossom-scented terrace of the Majorelle Bar. Dinner was at Le Marocain, a restaurant buried in gardens of soaring palms and delicate roses. Serenaded by its musicians, we were soothed enough to try lamb’s brains, alongside less testing dishes such as tagine and couscous.

After dinner, none of us were in a hurry to get home. We snatched a final group selfie in the flattering light of the hotel bathroom then wandered the quiet streets, skirting the edge of the Djemaa el-Fna where, even after midnight, smoke was rising from stalls catering to late-night diners and Berber musicians played to huddles of revellers. The break had been just what we needed – so much so that we’ve made a pact to return at the same time next year. Until then Marrakech, thanks for the Mumories.


Ryanair (ryanair.com), British Airways (ba.com), EasyJet (easyjet.com), Wizz Air (wizzair.com) and Royal Air Maroc (royalairmaroc.com) all fly to Marrakech from airports across the UK. A night at Annex House 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 for 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 more mumscapade destinations

Nice, France

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

Lana, South Tyrol

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

Lisbon, Portugal

With atmospheric, rattling trams crisscrossing 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 chic micro 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 throws a number of events throughout the year
The Taybank in Dunkeld throws a number of events throughout the year

Dunkeld, Scotland

Dunkeld is among Highland’s prettiest villages, set on the River Tay with an eclectic high street. There are seemingly endless walking trails here too, 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

No longer just a pitstop to tick off ancient wonders such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon, Athens is having a moment. It’s brimming with a new energy and a burgeoning creative scene. Stay at Ergon House (doubles from £138, B&B; 00 30 210 0109090, house.ergonfoods.com).

San Sebastián, Spain

An ideal group break for the food-focused, San Sebastián is a place to trawl Old Town pintxos bars and cycle around the surrounding coast and countryside. Stay at Room Mate Gorka overlooking Plaza Guipúzcoa (doubles from £82 per night, room only; 00 34 843 98 42 00, room-matehotels.com).


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