Rug shopping in Marrakech is such an exotic, colorful, and artful experience. It runs the gamut from fabulously ornate shops, such as the newly-opened ZL Gallerie, to shops in the souks so tiny you literally cannot move your arms, to a gorgeous packed-full family riad, to at-home at Maison 28 for a private showing.
During the 8-day Magical Morocco Girl Trip, my co-host and travel adventurer amie, Sandra Barron of Sandra Barron Interiors, and our oh-so-eager shoppers spent untold hours shopping for everything. From early in the morning ’til late at night, these girls went non-stop. Ultimately, rugs and textiles were the number one items on everyone’s wish list.
Each morning we all assembled, sleepy-eyed, at this gorgeous table in our accommodation for the week, Maison 28 Marrakech. We feasted on strong coffee, Moroccan pancakes, yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit prepared by our lovely cooks. Sandra and I outlined our day’s agenda for the ladies, and off we would go.
Sandra and I booked our personal shopper, Pat Bell of Kasbah Chic, to guide us to her own special favored shops and artisans over two days. As far as we’re concerned, a guide is the only way to go, and Pat came highly recommended by our friend Melanie Royals, owner of Maison 28. Pat escorted us to several rug shops – large and teensy.
Pat and her visiting USA friend Shirley loaded us up into SUVs and we headed to varied locations: the new city of Gueliz, the industrial zone Sidi Ghanem, and the souks in the medina. ZL Gallery was within walking distance from Maison 28, and had only been open for a week. It was jaw-dropping and so unexpected, like stepping into a high-end art gallery.
We were treated to mint tea and a showing of many different kinds of rugs, with full descriptions of where they were made, and what styles they were.
Not only were we treated like queens by the owner, we were invited to the rooftop where all of Marrakech and the Atlas mountains could be seen in 360 degree splendor.
One of the ladies in our group is building a new home, and she was thrilled to be able to order spectacular made-to-order rugs from ZL Galerie.
On the first day of our trip, our Maison 28 house manager extraordinaire, Zubair, whisked the group off on a whirlwind walking trip around the souks to showcase several of his personal favorite not-to-be-missed shops and artists. One of his friends, Ilyass, took us from his small shop in the souks to his private riad where he stores what seems like acres of rugs to view. If you dream rugs, this is your paradise! He also took us upstairs for the magnificent view. Looking up during our climb was timeless and mesmerizing.
Right at the end of our trip, I raced back to Ilyass’ shop to purchase a traditional Beni Ourain rug, a plain wedding blanket, and an oversized pillow cover. Ilyass shipped my purchases, combined with Sandra’s for better shipping pricing, to Sandra’s home in Greensboro, NC, which arrived just a week later. Perfect since we live near each other. Be sure to visit his Instagram shop at rugs_for_all. Ilyass specializes in vintage berber rugs and if you are looking for something unique he will try to find it. I have been in touch with Ilyass this week and he is selling and shipping, and is easily contacted using WhatsApp.
(I know you are wondering about prices. It’s impossible to say exactly, but in general, rugs bought in Morocco are much cheaper than buying similar ones in the states. Even factoring in the shipping cost.)
Binge shopping in Marrakech requires, what else, lunch! One day we were near Palais Donab, and enjoyed a lovely feast of salads, briouats (a sweet or savory puff pastry), and pastillas (a rustic sweet or savory Moroccan pie) in the sunny courtyard.
I mentioned personal rug shopping right at home at Maison 28. How cool is that!
Several times Zoubair, (pictured above) and his staffer sister Mouna gave us personal shopping experiences to the max. They moved the furniture and brought out rug after gorgeous rug, sprinkled with Zoubair’s own new pouf designs. Zoubair made our lives so much easier by shipping all of our large and heavy purchases from the entire trip back home. The cost was quite reasonable, and everything arrived soon after we got back home.
You can find Zoubair’s rugs and wedding blankets on Instagram at worldcarpets1. I messaged him yesterday on Instagram and he is not shipping just yet due to the virus lockdown, but he will be eventually.
Late afternoons, and some evenings, the ladies ventured out within walking distance to satisfy their never-ending shopping fix. Truly days of shop ’til you drop! We left for Maison 28, laden with packages, no, dripping with packages, for the walk home. We passed doorway after unique, hand-crafted doorway like this one in our neighborhood.
Just when we thought our arms would break, we arrived home, in Derb Slima.
We grabbed a glass of wine and put our feet up on the rooftop.
And savored the sunset. Ahhhhhh. Divine!
MORE ABOUT SHOPPING RUGS IN MARRAKECH
Blogger MarocMama has a great list of how to shop rugs – bargaining, caring for your rug, and more. In addition, after three trips to Marrakech, Sandra and I agree that hiring a trusted professional shopper to take you carpet shopping is the way to go. Rug shopping is mind boggling. They know the shops and shopkeepers, and since carpets are the most expensive purchase you will likely make, having the confidence to make a good purchase and get it home is SO worth it.
A NOTE ABOUT GUIDES
Our personal shopper, Pat, is always considerate to the local “official” guides and the fact they are licensed. She says it is always best to have a guide accompany you during medina shopping. She normally uses three local guides to join her on excursions, but in our case, none chose to accompany us. Pat had their documentation to show that she tried to organize the outing with them, if asked.
I will share my purchases large and small, and how I incorporated them into our home décor in North Carolina. Stay tuned!