by Paula Hardy, The Telegraph, May 13, 2019
Luxury is defined differently at the edge of the desert. Here, a shady garden full of songbirds and fruit trees is a wild extravagance, while large, airy rooms with views over reflecting pools are deeply decadent. Furthermore, in a lean, empty landscape devoid of drama and colour, richly detailed craftsmanship is highly valued. All of this can be found in Marrakech’s luxury hotels, which feature some of the city’s finest craftsmanship alongside beautifully cultivated gardens, oasis-like pools and theatrical hammams.
Royal Mansour Marrakech
The magnificent Royal Mansour is the gold standard of luxury hotels in Marrakech, managing to pull off the feat of being simultaneously vast and opulent while also feeling intimate. Designed by King Mohammed VI, it was conceived as a 'medina within a medina' set within five hectares of fragrant Moorish gardens. Rooms are layered in opulent marbles, thick silk carpets, embroidered damask curtains, engraved mirrors, crystal do-dads and chandeliers by Baccarat. As you would expect in a hotel that tends to a king's family and friends, service here is impeccable and comes with an extra dose of that wonderful Moroccan gentility.
Read the full review: Royal Mansour Marrakech
Les Deux Tours
There is an old-fashioned sophistication to this resort, due mostly to the intelligent design and unique modern, Moorish style from renowned architect Charles Boccara – and the gorgeous Andalusian-style gardens, which beguile with their fountains and lily ponds. Although all of the 40 rooms are different, they share the same modern, Moorish décor which has been hand-finished to exacting standards; vintage Art Deco and Colonial-style furniture adds to the feel of by-gone elegance. Service respects the privacy of the guest but of course, should you need anything, it is on hand.
Read the full review: Les Deux Tours
Epic is the only word to describe architect Ed Tuttle’s extraordinary design, which is modelled on Ahmed al-Mansour’s now ruined palace, el-Badi (the Incomparable). Staff here demonstrate a soothing graciousness and are effortlessly one-step ahead of every need that arises. Like Byzantine temples, the 32 rotund Pavilions have up-lit domes, beneath which king-sized beds sit centrally surrounded by acres of space. Cedar doors slide open to reveal bathrooms where pink pillared baths set in blue-green marble await wannabe Cleopatras. Located seven miles south of the city on the road to Ouarzazate, Amanjena feels slightly in the middle of nowhere (but guests like it that way).
Read the full review: Amanjena
Jasper Conran's hawkish design eye has conjured an atmosphere of old-school glamour with a pared-back contemporary sensibility. It radiates a timeless Deco decadence that puts guests at ease and elicits impromptu aperitif parties on the roof terrace or deep and meaningful conversations at the zinc-topped bar. The manager sets a suave tone in the house chatting to guests in five languages and supplying advice on the Marrakech scene. With just five suites, staying here feels like visiting a beautiful private home, which is exactly what a riad is meant to be. If you can bear to leave the cloud-like comfort of your bed, breakfast on your private terrace or beneath the pergola on the roof.
Read the full review: L'Hôtel Marrakech
Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech
The Mandarin Oriental is the perfect urban oasis, designed by brilliant interior architects Patrick Gilles and Dorothée Boissier; it's rustic yet sophisticated, luxurious but relaxed, and stylish in an unostentatious manner. Some 300 staff members support an exceptional array of facilities including three restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, cooking classes and a range of customised tours and activities. The suites have stunning Atlas views and heated terrace plunge pools while the villas are designed as mini riads and are enclosed by high walls. They are all carry Berber motifs in the form of handwoven rugs, textured tadelakt and latticework screens modelled on moucharabieh.
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Jnane Tamsna means 'Big Garden', and true to its name the hotel immerses you in the sights, sounds and scents of a North African garden. Chiselled good looks and an artistic sense of colour provide glamour without the gilt. Moorish arches painted in a warm butterscotch frame views of bright blue skies and a verdant flora, where winding paths lead to five secluded villas housing deeply comfortable rooms styled in an easy fashion. A highlight is the Diversity Excursions, which are led by university graduates keen to take tourists off the beaten track and show them something of Moroccan customs, cuisine and art.
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Marrakech’s most storied hotel is big, bold and unapologetically brash. The ornate Moroccan tilework, intricate stucco and carved woodwork perfectly complement the geometric forms, exotic floral styles and bright Fauvist colours of the Art Deco period. Ever since Winston Churchill (who first visited Marrakech in 1935) adopted the Mamounia as his winter home, the hotel has been renowned for its impeccable, courtly service; On arrival hot towels, almond milk and dates await the tired traveller, while rooms are furnished with thoughtful touches such as armfuls of fresh roses, freshly baked spiced cakes and tempting bowls of fruit.
Read the full review: La Mamounia
Villa des Orangers
Push through the carved door into the citrus scented garden and you could be forgiven for thinking you’d chanced upon a secret royal palace – Villa des Orangers is a grown-up affair with a coolly classic atmosphere. Décor has a strong colonial style, with lots of earthy tones, hand-carved furniture and warm leather chairs, off-set with fresh white linens and graphic, black-and-white photographs. Top of the range are the Master Suites and the beautiful Private Riad, which offer all the comforts of a very luxurious home (the latter benefitting from its own private pool).
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Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech
A series of interlinked cubes, the Fairmont's earthy, apricot-coloured hub echoes the ksars (fortified villages) of the southern oases. Sensitive to the desert climate, the gorgeous interiors make a sophisticated play on light and shade. Huge picture windows reveal stepped pools out of which rise towering palms giving the impression of standing at the edge of an oasis. Light filters through moucharabieh screens and archways frame stunning garden views while allowing air to circulate in the high halls. Stretching either side of the entrance are a series of fabulously decorated bars and restaurants.
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The house – set around three intricately stuccoed and tiled patios, one of which features a large pool – has been in the Bouskri family for nearly 200 years and has been restored by some of Morocco’s most highly skilled craftsmen. On top of this artful canvas, beautiful antiques, Berber rugs, crushed velvet-silk sofas and embroidered curtains add depth and personality, creating the sumptuous look of a luxurious Marrakshi home. With celebrity clientele on its books, service here is appropriately subtle, attentive and discreet. The 11 rooms and suites are filled with incredible pieces such as golden canopies and carved cedarwood screens.
Read the full review: Riad Kniza