TRAVEL | Revisting Atlas Cedar

The time is around 4:45am. Pre-coffee, pre-flight. Gate B7. 

With bags lining both our arms and eyes, we quickly boarded the plane and discussed expectations for the days ahead. There’s a palpable impatience once aboard, all itching for the landing preparation to be announced, so we can finally embark on the trip we’ve all been waiting for.

Shoulder-to-shoulder in our dusty, yellow cab, we stare out onto the roads and try to take in as much of the Moroccan scenery as we could. The pastel-hued landscape flew past the window at breakneck speed - something which proved to be perfectly symbolic of both the beauty and pace of Marrakech.

We stepped out of the car and onto the streets, without a moment to assess or confirm direction. Instinct thankfully threw us onto the right path and a maze of streets and shops at the very epicenter of the city. Whilst merchants enticed us with all manner of goods, our noses went into sensory overload, lapping up the rich aromas of cumin, pepper, turmeric and alike.


A few roads later and simple left turn lead us away from the crowds and chaos and towards our place of refuge for the following days.

Opening the large cast iron door handle, we each made our way to one of the Riad’s many rooms in unplanned unison. Naturally the striking of matches filled the hallways and after we had finished positioning candles in every vacant corner it felt just like home.

 

Within the hour we had left behind our small piece of temporary paradise and into the patted-clay walls of the Medina. Our phones firmly in our pockets, we vowed to let the city leads us, without the help of maps or similar. 

After the day’s events, we decided that coming to terms with the sights, scents and sounds of the souks could only be done by slumping into the cushioned balcony seats of Nomad. What was once a former carpet store now houses four-floors of fine dining, concentrating on the importance of fresh, local produce. A ‘modern-Moroccan’ menu lined our table with every variety of tagine, sitting alongside rainbows of spices and freshly harvested vegetables.

We head back to our riad where after a quick nightcap we retire to our rooms to sleep, full-to-the-brim and more than eager to experience more of Marrakech in the morning.

Breakfast meant freshly squeezed orange juice from the garden and expertly baked Khobz. Over sweet-sips of mint tea, we explored our strengths, weaknesses and improvements for the coming year. This rare situation saw us all gathered in one room, discussing our favourite brands and influences and how they are and can be inspiring what we do at Earl of East London. 

Our notepads full and thoughts exhausted, we set out on a customary visit to the Yves Saint Laurent Museumwhich has proved to be an instant classic amongst design and fashion-enthusiasts. The impressive curation of this venue was second to none, prompting shared conversations of admiration amongst both us and visitors. An admission without time restriction gave us plenty of time to observe and admire the resident succulents in the neighbouring gardens, before heading back to the mayhem of the souks for some last minute purchases.

Amongst the many recommendations we were kindly suggested, most appeared to send us towards the Beldi Country Club - an extensive resort that sits in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains. Here, we discovered the true meaning of the word, ‘retreat’. Devine food, charming stores, radiant sun and more than enough time spent bathing in it. As we walked the rows of olive trees, were also fortunate enough to catch a glimpse at the workings of a traditional glass blowing factory. Being makers, creators and appreciators of the artisan, watching others work with their hands and demonstrating their skill became an obvious priority.

 

After a day or so, we found ourselves exchanging pleasantries with familiar shopkeepers and fluently exercising our bartering skills; something we quickly learned was an essential in any visitor’s arsenal.

Just as we became fully-immersed, it was finally time to part ways. This was not only a retreat to rest and recuperate after the intese year behind us, but also an incredible opportunity to revisit the streets that inspired one of our headline scents - Atlas Cedar. Brimming with white musk, cedarwood and olive leaf, this candle leaves the high-energy of the souks behind and instead concentrates on the serene surroundings of the mountains and the Berber community that reside there. A perfect companion to unwind and regain focus after the liveliness of Marrakech, something that makes all the more sense after our visit.

Our suitcases were full and laden with beautiful hand-stitched rugs, throws and pillow cases. These won’t be making it to the shop floor however, as we are all more than keen to recreate the laid-back Morrocan style in our own homes.  

Before long we were passing over a patchwork-quilt of fields and farms, catching glimpses of the world below between intermittent naps.