While certain destinations never fall out of favor with the modern jet-set pack, new must-visit cities pop up every season. One such spot suddenly slipping from in-the-know lips everywhere? Marrakech, the Moroccan city in Northern Africa that’s just claimed a spot on American Express’ list of trending destinations for 2019 (travel is up 89 percent year-over-year).
A city that’s known for the winding alleys of its medina, Marrakech certainly has no shortage of things to buy. The trick, as always, is knowing what’s actually worth the suitcase space on the trans-Atlantic flight home—and how to find it.
If traipsing around and hoping to stumble upon gems isn’t your thing, consider booking a professional guide. Amex’s concierge service is an option that matches you with someone well versed in your retail interests (plus a car and driver) and arranges the logistics, including a pick-up directly at your hotel.
Here, five items to make sure you put on your shopping list.
There’s a reason travelers to this region frequently return home with new pieces for the home: Made locally by artisans working in various tribal styles, prices are dramatically lower than what you’d pay for back in the states. Shopping is an experience, so going with a guide who speaks the language may be a good option. Plan on spending a couple of hours being shown piece after piece while being plied with mint tea. Shipping large orders can be handled by the storefront, and smaller buys can be tightly wrapped in a bundle you can check directly with your airline.
Seen everywhere in the city, these slip-ons can be just right if your style leans toward the boho-side of things (simply earmarking them as house slippers can inject flair into the everyday).If you’re after a pair, pay attention to the details. Stalls upon stalls stock them, but the quality is not all the same. Check to see that the bottoms are real leather with a smooth texture, examine the quality of stitching, and bend and roll the shoe (it should be supple, rather than looking as if it might snap).
3 Argan Oil
Argan trees thrive in Morocco, explaining why the area is ground zero for the “gold that grows on trees.” (Fun fact: This is the varietal you see in ‘goat tree’ photos—the animals love to munch on the nuts so much they’re not averse to climbing up into the branches for them). TSA-friendly bottles make the perfect souvenirs for people back home. Not only good for hair, argan oil can be used on the body and face; culinary versions exist that let you experiment with the Moroccan habit of including it as a dip for breads (in the same way you would use olive oil).
Worn for everyday and as formal garb (weddings included), caftans are a category Marrakech knows well. Imagine how you’d ideally wear one—whether a breezy cotton style pulled on at the beach or a richly embroidered piece styled for the evening—and then hunt out quality. The higher-end makers are the ones tucked behind more demure doorsteps (the opposite of the stalls with bright synthetic styles flapping in the air).
Tailors can help you find your perfect fit and make alterations as needed, then have your custom style messengered to your hotel.
If you’ve fallen for the beachy-boho trend of basket bags stitched with cheeky witticisms, Marrakech will be your everything. The area’s historical usage of the woven vessels for transporting anything and everything means it’s packed with craftspeople who have made every shape under the sun.To avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options, go in with a shopping list of sizes and shapes (and prep your cheeky phrases in advance). Pre-stitched options exist, but the real opportunity here is being able to customize exactly what will fit in with your personal style.
This post originally appeared on Town&Country.