Returning to the palm tree-adorned Fellah Hotel, in the plains beneath the Atlas Mountains, The Beat Hotel returns in 2020 for its second edition. Taking inspiration from the Beat poets and their quest for creativity-without-borders, the four-day festival presents a programme of music, ideas and food, showcasing the best of Morocco alongside international musicians, writers and visual artists.
The original Beat Hotel was a small, run-down spot in the Latin Quarter of 1950s Paris. Hot water was only available Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, its rooms had windows facing an internal stairwell, and the linen was changed once a month – if you were lucky.
The hotel gained fame as the low-rent refuge that became an artistic home for Beat poets like William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and their many friends, who, freed from the conservative morals of 1950s America, made it a hothouse of creativity. The original Beats had a deep connection with Morocco, too, gathering in Tangiers from the end of the ’50s to relax in its protective distance and the cultural overload of its post-war international zone.
Taking inspiration from its namesake, and acting as a welcoming sanctuary for anyone who stumbled inside, The Beat Hotel opened its doors at Glastonbury Festival (UK) in 2011, serving up an extensive drinks list, a round-the-clock DJ line-up, and food by a rolling roster of leading chefs.
In March 2019, the Beat Hotel followed the footsteps of the Beats to Morocco, for a four-day festival in Marrakech. Set in a 27-acre boutique resort, the Beat Hotel Marrakech brought a long weekend of live music, DJs, one-off culinary collaborations and a talks programme featuring some of today’s great minds and voices.
In 2020 live music comes from synth-wizard Floating Points, spoken word artist and commentator-of-our-times Kate Tempest, and the groove-laced Kindness. They’re joined by a roster of DJs including John Talabot, Gilles Peterson, Carista, Young Marco, Sean Johnston and Andrew Weatherall. Representing Morocco’s varied scenes, genre-blurring DJ Yasmean, cratedigger Guedra Guedra, “ethnic-electronic” live duo Sound of Mint and the hotly-tipped Casa Voyager label join traditional Gnawa master Maalem Houssam Guinia and folk-fusion act Moulay Ahmed El Hassani.
The music line up is complemented with a programme of talks, workshops and film, bringing together writers, provocateurs, artists and raconteurs for the four day cultural retreat. Turner Prize-winning visual artist Jeremy Deller and XL Records’ Richard Russell open up on their careers and creative processes. They’re joined by celebrated contemporary photographer and “Andy Warhol of Marrakech”, Hassan Hajjaj, best-selling Franco-Moroccan author Leila Slimani and globetrotting installation artist, Camille Walala.
With a menu of delicacies to choose from – banquets, barbecues and bites – chefs from Morocco and abroad bring their signature styles to bear on local ingredients. Marrakech’s Nomad restaurant challenges all preconceptions of Moroccan cuisine, whilst the North African-inspired Berber & Q bring flame-grilled flavours to the party. Elsewhere, Mexican outpost and taco emporium El Pastor take residence, as do London’s big smoker Neil Rankin, The Dairy’s Robin Gill and Berlin’s Award-winning coffee roastery, The Barn.