Nightlife offerings throughout the sultry Red City are just as diverse as the culinary options, ranging from modern to old-world. This makes it one of the best places in Africa to go to party the night away or just sip on your drink and people watch. Here’s our roundup of the best nightlife in Marrakech.
Comptoir Darna, a Hivernage district outpost of a Parisian nightlife institution, is bumping any day of the week, and the bass vibrations radiate under the sidewalk up and down the block. The throbbing house music, mixed in with Shakira, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg, is unequivocally modern, and the upstairs dance floor is packed with hot, gyrating twenty- and thirty-somethings sipping on specialty drinks with names like Majic Cosmos. If you’re looking for some quiet conversation, you can retreat to the garden patio in the back with a shisha pipe. The decor throughout gives it an almost medieval air: most of the lighting comes courtesy of a trail of votives leading up the dramatic staircase in the foyer, gilded candelabras on the landing, and solitary sticks emitting wax tears flickering on the tables.
At the Lotus Club, also in the chic Hivernage district, a brightly lit marquee above a red carpet gives the entrance the look of an old-fashioned theater. Inside, the décor consists of retro-themed paintings and randomly placed faux-Greek busts, and a bevy of feather-shaped chandeliers create a glittering halo above the bar, adding a touch of flapper flair. A stage dominates the main room, where, when a DJ isn’t spinning beats, any number of live acts will keep you entertained, ranging from saxophone players to flamenco dancers. The highlight is the sultry five-member female cabaret Revue Ohlala, who make full use of the tautly strung ropes that form poles on the stage. Oh, la la, indeed.
If you can get past the velvet ropes at the Sofitel Imperial Palace Hotel’s So Lounge, first you’ll encounter a sleek, über-modern open-air bar done up in blue and white and decorated with glowing lanterns, a soothing little outdoor escape. But step inside and you’re suddenly in a posh multilevel nightclub, with high-octane music coming courtesy of either a DJ or a live band and packed with revelers dancing till 4 a.m. The latticed wrought-iron railings, copious brass lanterns, and, of course, sheeshas in the outdoor lounge all give it a local touch, reminding you that you are, in fact, in Marrakech. If the thumping bass gets overbearing, there’s also a more low-key outdoor patio area.
A relatively recent arrival on the scene, quirky Djellabar is a colorful onetime wedding hall — complete with an intricately engraved ceiling, zellij-tiled walls, and faux-snakeskin pillows. It’s old-world Morocco meets pop-art modernism — let’s call it Maroc n’Roll, after one of the signature drinks on offer. Both the menu and the music continue the East-West fusion vibe: order the pasta served with chunks of spicy merguez sausage and the rosewater syrup-infused cheesecake, all the while grooving to mixes of “Billie Jean” and “It’s Raining Men” recast on ouds, flutes, and drums. The kitschy décor and sound track filled with 80’s pop tracks set to Moroccan instruments make it a favorite for the fun-loving set.
Kechmara is a former mechanic’s garage that was reclaimed by a pair of inventive brothers, who’ve transformed it into a stylish, modern lounge: stark white walls, Scandinavian furniture (are those sculptural Saarinen chairs?), chrome fixtures, and a rotating array of artwork. Food is served in the dining room on the ground level, or you can just grab a cocktail at the roof terrace bar. A DJ spins, and there’s live music several nights a week.
Jad Mahal lives up to your most outrageous Arabian Nights fantasies, with extravagant decor and belly dancers galore. The sultry red lights permeate through dark shadows and candle light setting the mood for a night to remember. DJ’s mix the latest dance tracks and the younger crowd gets grooving on the dance floor as the night goes on. Food is pretty decent here but a tad pricey, better to just skip it and go with dessert washed down with a nice cocktail. Performances throughout the week also feature live bands and various singers. For a video to get an idea of what you might see there, click here.
Sky Lounge at the Pearl Marrakech (formerly Delano Marrakech) is pure Miami chic that will make you think you are in South Beach, especially when the roof opens up throughout the night. The first floor is a bar/club combo giving 360 degree views of the city, while the second floor lets you lounge at a table and smoke some shisha. DJ’s usually stick to house music, Moroccan tracks and a bit of hip-hop to keep the dance floor moving. Belly dancers are also par for the course, and will usually come out a few hours after dark to entertain the crowds. Food is delicious, we recommend the beef tagine, though if you’re putting away the drinks you might want to go for the pizza. For a glimpse into the fun atmosphere, check out this video.