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Destination inspiration: Casablanca, Morocco

The sprawl of Casablanca, arcing around the coastline

The sprawl of Casablanca, arcing around the coastline

Why go?

From its magical Art Deco relics to its ever-lively port, Casablanca is rich, life-worn and endearingly unpolished. The city hasn’t acquired the cool of Marrakech or Fès, but a trip here leaves you in no doubt you’ve experienced the real Morocco.

Forgo the modern trams zipping through the city centre – the prettiest architectural spots and most interesting places are discovered by simply wandering.

The souk in French-influenced Quartier Habous confronts the senses with a sprawl of brightly painted tagines, fragrant mounds of spices, and patterned rugs. And, though less favoured by tourists than some others in Morocco, Casablanca’s old medina is still the place to go to catch the rhythm of local life.

Eateries dish up heaped platefuls of seafood at Marché Centrale – usually scoffed with a hearty side of people-watching. But the city’s reputation for innovative restaurants makes it clear the food scene is not confined to its markets.

Sightseers love ‘Rick’s Café’ – a real-life replica of the bar frequented by Bogart and Bergman in the on-screen Casablanca. The film plays on silent repeat as visitors sip drinks, surrounded by Syrian arches and flickering lamps.

Along the coast, a pristine beach stretches on for miles, with a devoted pack of surfers in permanent residence. The vast Hassan II Mosque sits down by – and partially on – the turquoise ocean, welcoming Muslims and non-Muslims alike to its intricate inner sanctum.

Place Mohammed V – a classic public square

Place Mohammed V – a classic public square

When to go?

The temperate months between November and May make a wonderful time to discover Casablanca. From June all the way to October, temperatures simmer around 30 degrees celsius, with slight relief from the Atlantic sea breeze. July is right at the peak of the heatwave, but also brings unmissable celebrations like the Festival de Casablanca and Feast of the Throne.

Where to stay

Down Town Hotel By Business & Leisure Hotels – Casablanca, Morocco

At Down Town Hotel guests can choose from a selection of spacious junior and executive suites – the latter with their own balcony and a comfy extra-large bed. In the heart of the Maarif district, you’re surrounded by many of Casablanca’s best-rated restaurants, making this a top choice for foodies.

Four Seasons Hotel – Casablanca, Morocco

The immaculate Four Seasons is located right on the shore, with ocean views aplenty. The hotel has a resort-like feel, and even has its own hammam to help guests unwind. Room types range from Superior to Grand Premier, up to a huge junior suite – all equipped with large beds and free WiFi.

Melliber Appart Hotel – Casablanca, Morocco

Fresh, modern Melliber offers a range of studios and suites, accommodating up to four people. Just steps away from the ocean and Hassan II Mosque, balconies and terraces here come with a spectacular view. Guests love the breakfast, which is included in most room rates, but a private kitchenette also offers the opportunity to cook up tasty local finds.