Rabat is the official capital of the Kingdom of Morocco. It is under the shadow of other major destinations in the country such as Red city of Marrakech, imperial city of Fez or businessy Casablanca. However, as a Moroccan national I think it’s the best city to live in. I never lived there but for now I enjoy the many things the city has to offer for few days. Here my selection of things to do in one memorable night in Rabat!
My latest trip to Rabat was in April 2015 to attend AIESEC’s Global Discovery Road 2 conference where I was invited to be one of the speakers. This is an exclusive opportunity for me to showcase my work as travel blogger, share my adventures, meet my audience and mainly visit Rabat again.
14.00 pm – Check in at Villa Mandarine Hotel
Villa Mandarine is a magical place as it really reunites all Morocco through its architecture, design and objects. Every detail in the hotel seems to hold a story, every object represents a period in the Moroccan history: from Islamic to Jewish and from Berber to French colonial times. As if I were in a museum, I was really walking around and exploring bit by bit. This hotel is also great way to connect with nature as it is part of a 3 hectares garden filled with 700 orange trees where it felt like the hanging birds sang just for me!
The room has a fresh Mediterranean look, quite large and colourful but not too much. Just the right shades of yellow, blue and green to feel relaxed and enjoy a night on a comfy bed. There is some great care by the owners over the hotel overall and also the cleaning staff who was very friendly. Although, I think that the front desk staff could have been slightly warmer to deliver a real Moroccan welcome. Anyway, in the morning I had the choice of getting my breakfast served at the room or get directly served from the buffet at the restaurant. I obviously went for the buffet which was a smart move! The food was delicious, fresh and very varied as well. Facilities include a spa, a gym, a bar, a pool and so on! The city centre is not very far; just a 15 minutes ride to most places of interest in Rabat. And at the end of my stay, I requested a late check-out which was easily granted.
Book your stay at Villa Mandarine here: http://www.villamandarine.com/
15.00 pm – Rabat Zoo
This is a mythical zoo; that I visited 10 years ago when it was in a miserable state but it has finally been refurbished to look astonishing and host a selection of animals coming from all over the world. I planned to visit the zoo for one hour but I ended up staying almost 3 hours, that clearly shows how much I enjoyed it! It is quite big and once I got in, I wanted to leave only after seeing it all. It is also divided into 5 main parts: Atlas Mountains, Savanna, Desert, Humid Zone and Tropical Forest. Moreover, there are restaurants, gift shop, cafés and information centre, all within the zoo. The only thing that really bothered me was transport back to the city centre from the zoo. Quite limited but I managed to get a Grand Taxi back to city then use the tramway or Petit Taxi.
18.30 pm – Kasbah of the Oudayas
This is by far my favourite spot in Rabat. It is quite touristy but I still enjoy it. The walk around is simply magnificent. I always make sure to get to the well-located café overlooking the ocean. The view is breathtaking and completed with the sound of the ocean and the pulse of the city.
20.00 pm – Dinner at Chez Ouazzani
Quite off the tourist trail… That’s one great Moroccan restaurant well known by locals. I didn’t notice any menus around but I always know what to order. I take a selection of grilled meat with French fries and my all time favourite ‘Made in Morocco’ soft drink, Hawai. The prices are very reasonable and also, the decoration is very special with a traditional wooden ceiling easily matching with the chairs and tables.
10.00 am – Hassan Tower
An iconic landmark of Rabat’s humble skyline. Hassan Tower is the minaret of an incomplete mosque in Rabat which had the high aims to be the largest mosque with the tallest minaret in the world at that time, in 1195. Worth visiting and walking it around it, Hassan Tower, is really a beautiful piece of history left in the heart of Morocco. Since 2012, it has been granted the UNESCO World Heritage status.
11.00 am – Mausoleum of Mohammed V
Right in front of Hassan Tower is located Mausoleum of Mohammed V, King of Morocco. It contains tombs of King Mohammed V and his sons King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah. The architecture of the Mausoleum is fascinating. Worth taking time to snap pictures and walk around the mosque ruins.
12.00 pm – Lunch at Rôtisserie Hassan
Once again, a hidden -just for locals- restaurant. Thanks to my father’s recommendations! This restaurant specialises in roasted chicken à la Moroccan since 1972. Prices are quite low for a delicious lunch with a fast service and friendly waiters. It is always crowded around lunch time but with some patience tables get free, it looks a bit messy inside the restaurant but strangely it feels right and after a bit that messiness didn’t bother me, I rather enjoyed it!
Disclaimer: I accepted a complimentary stay at Villa Mandarine for one night to provide my personal opinion about the experience on this article. I also accepted a complimentary visit of Rabat Zoo.