The exotic locations shown in the film Sex and the City 2 (US release 27 May 2010), were all shot in Morocco. The story finds the four friends, Carrie (Sarah Jessica-Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) on an all-expenses-paid vacation in Abu Dhabi. The Sex and the City crew were not able to film in the Emirates, so they ended up spending eight weeks shooting in Morocco. Below you'll find out where the SATC2 gang rode camels, strolled through the markets (souks), and spent their nights, along with recommendations on where you could stay in Morocco at these Sex and the City locations and create your own fashionably fabulous vacation.
The Amanjena Hotel is the amazing, palace-like hotel you see featured in the SATC2 preview. But it's rumored the SATC2 cast actually stayed at the La Mamounia Hotel. Who could blame them? La Mamounia Hotel is a spectacular 5-star hotel just outside the medina walls of Marrakech. Built in 1923, it's an architectural gem of a place and about as decadent and classy as the stars themselves. Decorated in an Art Deco/Arab/Moroccan style, it boasts three restaurants and five bars, perfect for the cocktail-loving friends. The fabulous four would have enjoyed the huge spa, complete with traditional Moroccan hammam. All manner of royalty and famous people have stayed here -- Winston Churchill wintered here and Alfred Hitchcock shot The Man Who Knew Too Much in the hotel's lobby.
La Mamounia has 136 rooms, 71 suites, and 3 riads -- small traditional luxury houses, most of which overlook the gardens filled with palm trees and flowers. Prices for a standard room start at around $600 per night. If you can't afford to stay here, pop in and have a drink just to see the place.
The Marrkech Medina and Djemma el Fnaa
The market scene where Carrie meets up with old flame Aidan (John Corbett) was filmed in the Marrakech medina. The Medina is the old, walled part of town where life continues much as it has for hundreds of years. Mopeds battle for the right of way with donkeys in the narrow alleyways filled with shops selling steel, wool, and live chickens. The main thoroughfares are crammed with shoppers, tourists and kids going to school. You see Aidan with a big carpet under his arm, a typical look for many tourists in Marrakech. Carpets are big business here and most visitors will find themselves in a carpet shop at some point!
The main square is called the Djemma el Fnaa, and it's the hot spot every evening for story-tellers, snake charmers, and delicious fresh kebabs.
The medina is filled with interesting sights and is the main reason people visit Marrakech. Stay at a traditional Riad (or at La Mamounia if you can afford it).
The Hot Desert Scenes
All the desert scenes in SATC2 were filmed in Morocco, in the Western Saharan dunes south of Erfoud, just outside a small town of Merzouga. The dunes are called Erg Chebbi and they are as awe-inspiring as you see in the movie. No need for special lighting here. The filming luckily took place in November which probably meant some chilly nights, but hot daytime temperatures. Summers are off-limits here.
Getting On a Camel Yourself
The SATC2 crew would have traveled by car to Merzouga, about an hour from where they were staying in Erfoud. It's about 450 miles from Marrakech. There's also a small airport about 80 miles from Erfoud, with twice-weekly flights from Casablanca. Once you're in Merzouga it's either a camel or 4x4, if you want to head deep into the dunes. Recreate the atmosphere in the SATC2 movie and feel like you're living in an Arabian Nights adventure, by staying in a luxury tent at the Auberge Kasbah Tombouctou. Time your trip for spring and you may even see flamingos in a large seasonal lake close to Merzouga.
Rabat is the capital of Morocco and where the King lives. It's a peaceful city by Moroccan standards, less hustle, and grit than Casablanca. Colonial buildings sit on wide tree-lined boulevards and those are the shots of Rabat you see in SATC2.
Rabat is often overlooked by visitors, but it's easy to get to by train from Casablanca (1hr) or Marrakech (4hrs). Check out the medina, the kasbah and just enjoy the ocean breeze and relative tranquility.
What Else is There to See in Morocco?
If you like the market scenes you see in the SATC2 movie, and you love shopping, you would also enjoy Essaouira on the coast, Fes, and Chefchaouen. For the desert, follow the girls to Erfoud, or Merzouga (see above). If the desert is too hot for you, check out the Atlas Mountains. Just an hour away from Marrakech, you can stay at the wonderful Kasbah du Toubkal, only reachable by donkey!
How Should Women Dress When Visiting?
You don't have to dress like Miranda, but bearing your shoulders and cleavage like Samantha is not a great idea either. Remember the movie is supposed to be in Abu Dhabi which is much more conservative than Morocco when it comes to what women wear. In Morocco, a mid-length skirt, jeans, and t-shirt are fine. There are lots of tourists in Morocco and the people are generally tolerant. If you don't want to attract lots of unwanted attention stay away from small shorts, mini-skirts, and tight tank tops.
Is it Safe for Women to Travel Alone?
If you feel inspired to visit Morocco after watching Sex and the City 2, you may wonder if it's safe to travel as a woman alone, or with a group. The answer is a resounding yes! You may have to ignore hisses and comments and you will probably have to shrug off men wanting to chat or show you their shop. But if you stay polite but firm, you will have no problems. Do not act like Samantha! Read these tips for Women traveling in Africa and also keep in mind that violent crime is extremely rare in Morocco.