Jajjah by Hassan Hajjaj
In the industrial neighbourhood of Sidi Ghanem, where I spend quite a lot of time because of my field of work, I recommend the collaborative space Jajjah by Hassan Hajjaj, a Moroccan restaurant and art gallery. The menu at Jajjah offers traditional Moroccan cuisine with a modern twist. I think it is a great place for lunch and breakfast, with a range of light salads, sandwiches and pastries. The interior design curated by Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj is fun, blending Pop Art with Moroccan design, with its colourful tiles and vivid table settings. The boutique sells products designed by Hajjaj himself and has a gallery showcasing the work of local artists. With the industrial area becoming gentrified, there are lots of cool design and furniture shops importing products from southeast Asia, Africa and Europe. I would recommend having a stroll and popping into these shops before going to Jajjah for a late breakfast/lunch.
Malhoun art space
Malhoun is a very new art space. It includes a residency programme and studio for local artists and a curatorial platform. The gallery is one of the best places to see works by emerging Moroccan artists in dialogue with more established artists, with the principal focus on the African continent and its diaspora. Recently, I exhibited one of my sculptures there – Lombardini Tipo 833. Conceptually, it reflects on the watermelon industry in Zagora, which in recent years has seen large farm businesses growing watermelons. It brings into question whether this business, mainly designed for export, supports responsible and sustainable use of desert fossil water.
Le Grand Café de la Poste
Formerly a post office and now an iconic French restaurant, Le Grande Café de la Poste is known not only for its excellent gastronomy, but its French legacy architecture, renovated by renowned Paris-based architecture firm Studio KO. The grand statement staircase and Art Deco motif palm fronds, beam ceiling and marble floors transport you back to the Roaring Twenties. Many people who go there aren’t aware of the lounge on the top floor. I particularly like it for its atmosphere – both chilled and quiet, making it a great place to have a drink and chat before dinner.
The Royal Mansour
This luxury hotel in the centre of Marrakech was designed by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, so, as you can imagine, it’s very grand, showcasing the country’s traditional architectural styles. The hotel has four restaurants. I have been to Le Jardin bar and restaurant a few times – it’s a beautiful open-air space serving Asian and Mediterranean fusion cuisine. The unique menu is actually inspired by the stories of the great Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta, who brought new cooking methods, using embers, back from Asia. It the perfect place to go for dinner if you want to experience Moroccan dining at its finest.
This Italian restaurant has been open since 1974 and what I particularly like about the dining area is that it surrounds a pool and is all candlelit in the evening. It really is an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Discover more about Éric Van Hove’s artworks at ericvanhove.com