Checking Into: The Royal Mansour Marrakech

Elephants South Africa Safari - 04linz/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Photo by 04linz/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
MOROCCO’s top artisans were commissioned to create the Royal Mansour, a hotel designed to resemble Marrakech’s sprawling medina.
MOROCCO’s top artisans were commissioned to create the Royal Mansour, a hotel designed to resemble Marrakech’s sprawling medina.

Designed to resemble Marrakech’s sprawling medina, the Royal Mansour is comprised of rouge-hued riads, effusive fountains and lush gardens, where the only sound is that of birdsong. But it’s the inside that’s really mind-blowing. The country’s top artisans (1,500 of them) were commissioned to create the metalwork, the hand-carved cedar doors, the Zellige mosaics and the sculpted plaster walls. All told, Royal Mansour required almost four years of work, and the result is a defining symbol of Moroccan craftsmanship.

The Premier one-bedroom Riad comes with marble floors, a mosaic-tiled fireplace and custom furniture made with precious wood.
The Premier one-bedroom Riad comes with marble floors, a mosaic-tiled fireplace and custom furniture made with precious wood.

Indeed, when you pass through the monumental gateway into the lobby, you’ll see fellow guests constantly reaching for their smartphones to snap photos. The hotel is irresistibly beautiful, and it’s impossible not to marvel at all its exquisite details.

This craftsmanship is on full display in each of the 53 riads (private villas). Instead of guest rooms or suites, guests are privy to an entire house. There are four different configurations: one-, two- and three-bedroom riads plus the opulent Riad d’Honneur (more like a mini-hotel). In our One-Bedroom Riad, the open-air courtyard on the ground floor connects to the living room, styled with marble floors and a mosaic-tiled fireplace. Custom furniture includes tables made of precious wood and inlaid mother-of-pearl. Neatly arranged on the desk was stationary with our name printed in gold letters. Above the bed on the second floor, the entire wall is covered by lace-like plaster, intricately carved. The sprawling bathroom has a soaking tub with a generous selection of MarocMaroc bath products. The rooftop has yet another living space where chaise lounges are positioned between a private plunge pool and an outdoor fireplace. Technology is discreet; touch-screen panels in each room control the lighting and temperature at the touch of a button.

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To guarantee the privacy of guests, the staff uses a network of underground tunnels to access individual riads for room service and cleaning. In fact, these tunnels constitute an underground world, mirroring the service arrangements in the actual royal palace. Though this subterranean level is usually off-limits to guests, Luxury Travel Advisor got lucky with a guided tour, where — along the paved road — we passed a chef in a golf cart and a waiter balancing a tray with champagne flutes. Elevators access the individual floors of each riad, creating an unobtrusive “back door” entry. So upon check-in, the butler can arrive on the second floor to help with unpacking, carrying welcome glasses of fresh strawberry juice. On the ground floor, an attendant can enter the riad through the service kitchen to light the fireplace.

To reach the spa building, stroll on meandering paths past the other riads of the “medina.” Fragrant with flowers, the gardens are planted with 800-year-old olive trees, rose bushes, jasmine and century-old date palms from Agadir. Enter a soaring atrium that resembles a birdcage fashioned with wrought-iron latticework that’s painted white. Centered around the atrium, the 10 luxurious treatment rooms are located upstairs. The crème de la crème are the three Spa Suites, where guests book a slot of time rather than one of the 101 treatments on the encyclopedic menu. Our favorite is the suite with the private hammam and the terrace overlooking the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas mountains. Don’t miss the heated pool in the glass atrium facing a citrus grove. Tip: Personal trainers are available at the fitness center.

We say the Royal Mansour offers the best dining experience in Marrakech under the guidance of Parisian Chef Yannick Alléno. Awarded “Cuisinier of the Year 2015” by Gault & Millau, Alléno holds three Michelin stars at the Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris. Morocco’s fine gastronomy is showcased at La Grande Table Marocaine with classic Moroccan cuisine made sublime with the best of the country’s products (truffles from the Atlas mountains, olives from the Zaalouk souk, saffron from Ourika, line-caught fish from the coast). Paired with wines chosen by the sommelier, a meal here is a culinary tour de force. Stand-out dishes include the sampler of Moroccan salad delights, the beef tangia with saffron-infused gnocchi, and the “orange pearl” dessert. In addition, La Grande Table Française offers fine French cuisine, while La Table is the all-day dining restaurant, featuring an al fresco option and a “Pastry Library.” There is also a cigar lounge, a gold leaf-adorned bar and a chimney lounge.

Other hotel facilities include private reception rooms and a library, where the ceiling opens to the sky.

It might be difficult to tear yourself away from this urban resort, but when you’re keen to discover the best of Marrakech’s culture, shopping, trendy cafes and historic sites, the concierge team is a wealth of information. Reach out to Head Concierge Touria El Rhachoui ([email protected], 011-212-529-808-080), recognized as a Clef d’Or concierge. The concierge team can also arrange hot-air balloon rides and excursions to the Atlas mountains, two hours away. For bookings, contact Director of Sales & Marketing Karim Slimani ([email protected]) or Sales Manager Soufiane Berrada ([email protected]). A new general manager, Jean-Claude Messant, was appointed in September 2014, and he has ambitious plans for Royal Mansour. Stay tuned!

Royal mansour’s 53 riads showcase Moroccan craftsmanship.
Royal mansour’s 53 riads showcase Moroccan craftsmanship.

 

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