20 coolest hotels in Marrakesh
Tourism has boomed in Marrakesh in the past ten years, with hotels opening at a rate rivalled only by New York and Dubai. As of last year it had more boutique hotels than any other city (about 400) but the trend now is for high-end, international mini-chains to open a North African outpost. Miami’s Delano Hotel and the Far East’s Banyan Tree are among half a dozen five-star hotels opening this year, while a Baglioni, Mandarin Oriental and Mondrian are coming in 2014.
For travellers it means unprecedented choice, from chic riads ( a traditional house or palace with an interior garden) in the centre of the medina (old city) to palatial retreats in the Palmeraie neighbourhood or New York-style boutiques in the Ville Nouvelle modern quarter. Below is our guide to 20 of the (current) hottest places to stay . Some of the more obvious contenders — La Mamounia, Club Med — aren’t on our list, simply because they are already well established.
Wherever you choose to stay, now is a fantastic time to visit Marrakesh; temperatures are still in the mid-20s, easyJet offers flights from Gatwick, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester and it’s the perfect place to do your Christmas shopping ….. just make sure to sharpen your bartering skills.
Best for romance
1. Dar Zemora
There’s something wonderfully sybaritic about Dar Zemora, 20 minutes from the city centre in Palmeraie. The circular Dome Room is the centrepiece of the house, with billowing silk drapes and wide sofas piled high with jewel-coloured cushions, while three other lounges ensure there is always plenty of privacy. The three suites and three rooms combine warm, earthy colours with a seriously luxurious feel, and the small spa in the grounds completes the indulgent feel.
Details: Doubles from £195 B&B (07913 152195,www.darzemora.com)
Best on a budget
2. Jnane Mogador
A beautifully restored 19th-century riad in a great location in the medina, Jnane Mogador is one of the city’s best bargains with 17 cosy and comfortable rooms in traditional style with prettytadelakt (waterproof lime plaster) bathrooms. There’s a sizeable roof terrace, a hamam (Turkish bath) to soothe the stresses of the city and, in the cooler months, the firelit lounge, with beautiful wood-panelled ceiling, is a lovely space for relaxing.
Details: Doubles from £32 room only (00 212 524 42 63 23,jnanemogador.com )
Best for families
3. Fawakay Villas
Perfect if you’ve got the kids in tow, Fawakay comprises three villas, each with their own plunge pool (there is a shared main and children’s pool). Set about 6 miles outside the city, it’s an ideal place to combine time by the pool with trips into the city. Fawakay is the creation of Dawn and Francis Boys-Stones, an English couple who are always on hand to smooth out any problems and provide cold beers at the bar.
Details: Villa Lak, sleeping four, costs from £270 per night (00 212 673 187 346, fawakayvillas.com )
Best for Miami chic
The Delano is ideal for people who want to pop into the medina for a spot of shopping or to eat, but have the poolside glam, spa treatments and general ambiance of South Beach. Situated in the Hivernage quarter it’s an easy walk to the medina, and the 71 rooms are light and spacious with a strong hit of French chic from the renowned designer Jacques Garcia.
Details: Doubles from £232 room only (00 212 524 42 42 42,morganshotelgroup.com)
Best for a country feel
5. Beldi Country Club
Built in the style of a douar (a small Moroccan village) Beldi is just ten minutes from the city but feels like a rural estate. Rooms are light, spacious and dotted with Moroccan antiques, while the grounds are scattered with wicker-roofed day beds and statuesque palms, throwing pools of shade across the gardens. Two restaurants serve traditional Moroccan dishes and there are two clay tennis courts as well as a good-sized pool.
Details: Doubles from £144 B&B (00 212 5 24 38 39 50,beldicountryclub.com )
Best for secret chic
6. Riad Camilia
There’s always something satisfying about staying somewhere little-known, and Riad Camilia is a gorgeous, six-suite riad that is relatively undiscovered in the medina. There are three plunge pools, ensuring there’s always somewhere to cool off, and the rooms have a French-country-house-via-Fez feel, which is both sumptuous and stylish. Meals are a highlight and served wherever guests feel like eating.
Details: A four-night break costs from £512pp, B&B, including flights and transfers (01672 500555, lawrenceofmorocco.com)
Best for spa lovers
7. Mosaic Palais Aziza
The beauty of staying in the Palmeraie, about 20 minutes from the medina, is that space is not an issue; properties can stretch for miles, with vast, flower-filled grounds and huge pools. Palais Aziza ticks all these boxes, but it also delivers service with real flair and a style that feels contemporary while incorporating plenty of traditional Moroccan touches. The spa is small — just four treatment rooms — but one of the city’s best, and massages can also be enjoyed in your room or in a garden pavilion.
Details: Doubles from €276 B&B (00 212 524 329 988,mosaicpalaisaziza.com)
Best for garden lovers
8. Dar Ayniwen
The perfect antidote to the freneticism of the medina, the gardens at Dar Ayniwen are simply idyllic; a long stretch of immaculate lawn flanking a sizeable heated outdoor pool, with olive trees and stately palms providing pools of shade in the Palmeraie, about 15 minutes from the city centre. Some of the suites are tucked away down pathways through the gardens, and the terrace is just made for languid gin and tonics while admiring the view.
Details: Doubles from £164 B&B (00 212 5243 29684, dar-ayniwen.com )
Best for local knowledge
9. Riad Kniza
Mohamed Bouskri is something of a legend in Marrakesh; he has been guiding tourists for more than 35 years and has shown the sights to everyone from ex-Presidents to A-list movie stars. A charming, gentle man, this riad in the medina reflects his love for the city; elegant without being ostentatious, furnished in classic Moroccan style. There are 11 beautiful rooms, a good-sized spa and excellent restaurant, but the real joy is sitting on the roof terrace, listening to Mohamed’s tales of the city.
Details: Doubles from £148 B&B, including airport transfers (00 212 524 37 69 42, riadkniza.com )
Best for authentic style
10. Riad Noga
Noga remains true to the traditional style; tadelakt bathrooms, open fireplaces, each room with its own colour scheme, deep red, honeycomb yellow, cool grey. The pool, backed by rose-pink walls, is the perfect spot to cool off after the souks and the two flower-strewn roof terraces can be terribly hard to leave.
Details: Doubles cost from £84 B&B (00 212 524 37 76 70, i-escape.com)
Best for glamping
11. Jardins d’Issil
About 20 minutes’ drive outside the city centre, Jardins d’Issil offers glamping with a capital G; beautiful, silk-draped tents,complete with ensuite bathrooms, wonderfully comfortable beds and all the Arabian Nights atmosphere you can handle. In late spring the huge rose garden is spectacular to see and smell, and the restaurant at the main house does a good line in traditional Moroccan food.
Details: A three-night break costs from £138pp, B&B, including transfers (but not flights) through Fleewinter (020-7112 0019,fleewinter.com)
Best for art lovers
12. El Fenn
Owned by Vanessa Branson the sister of Richard), el Fenn, in the medina, is set apart from the rest thanks to the spectacular art collection that graces the walls, and the clever interior design that manages to be warm and impeccably stylish at the same time. The 20 bedrooms feature works by artists such as Antony Gormley and the photographer Terence Donovan, while the elegant courtyard lounges feature work by leading Arabic artists. A nice touch is that food can be ordered at any time, to be eaten anywhere. there’s a sweet spa, too.
Details: Doubles from £135 B&B (00 212 524 44 1210, el-fenn.com)
Best for luxury
13. Palais Namaskar
Currently one of the city’s hottest addresses, Palais Namaskar, about half an hour from the city centre, combines Far Eastern design with Moroccan architectural style, and Balinese gardens that stretch for what feels like miles. It’s a place for Dior sunglasses and wafty kimonos, Guerlain treatments in the spa and rooftop cocktails. Rooms are oriental-minimalist, with lots of cream, grey and taupe decor. If you’re after Moroccan maximalism, this isn’t the place.
Details: Doubles from £331 B&B (00 212 5 24 29 98 00,palaisnamaskar.com)
Best for minimalists
Ideal for dipping in and out of the city — a regular shuttle runs all day until 11.15pm (it’s about a ten-minute drive) — Sirayane is the perfect choice for fans of Aman-style minimalism, without the accompanying price tag. Two stark, cubist buildings house rooms in blonde wood and taupe-and-cream decor, while the spacious restaurant and bar ooze muted style; soft-metallic decor and artfully presented dishes that bring Moroccan cuisine bang up to date.
Details: Doubles from £118 B&B (00 212 5 25 11 88 80,sirayane.com )
15. Riad Souika
As many riads vie with each other to become grander and more plush,a really intimate bolthole in the medina is harder to find. Riad Souika has just three rooms and a sweet, homely feel with a good-sized roof terrace and a delightful houseman, Aziz, who will whip up breakfast wherever you fancy eating it. Lunches and dinners are available on request.
Details:Four-night breaks from £421pp B&B including flights and transfers (01672 500555 , lawrenceofmorocco.com )
Best for young families
16. Talaa 12
Marrakesh may not be the first place you think of visiting with a young family, but choose the right accommodation and it’s a breeze. Talaa 12 is a gorgeous riad in the heart of the medina that offers cots, child beds and babysitting services. Children under six stay free and guests also receive free entry to Nikki Beach and its pool. With just eight rooms it has a cool, pared-down style but the vibe is delightfully warm and relaxed.
Details: Doubles from £152 B&B (00 212 524 42 90 45,talaa12.com)
17. The Penthouse
If you want to truly escape the crowds, this penthouse apartment in Gueliz, 15 mins walk from the Jemaa el Fna, is a great choice. Right next to the Park Majorelle, lovely for early evening strolls, the apartment boasts a 100 sq metre roof terrace, modern decor and two bedrooms, both with their own balconies.
Details: A week for four costs from £474 (01865 312000;holidaylettings.co.uk )
Best for groups
18. Riad Star
One of the newer kids on the riad block, Star is a fantastic choice for a group of friends or extended family, as all seven suites can be either twins or doubles, most can be made into triples and two suites connect. Set in the medina, there’s a stylish, art-deco feel to the decor, and the plunge pool in the courtyard can be covered to give space for everything from yoga classes to parties.
Details: Doubles from £140 B&B (01239 701814,naturallymorocco.co.uk)
About 20 minutes’ drive out of the city, Fellah is an extraordinary place; 69 rooms and suites are housed in adobe-style villas, but it’s the vibe that’s unusual. Part rural farm, with chickens providing the eggs for breakfast, part stylista-hangout (foie gras dim sum is just one choice on the dinner menu), part arts centre, with an artists-in-residence programme and multilingual library, it’s one of the more unusual places to stay in Marrakesh.
Details: Doubles from £144 per night (00 212 5 25 06 50 00,fellah-hotel.com )
Best for vintage style
20. Riad Malika
If Austin Powers designed a riad it would be Malika; an archly-clever melange of art deco design, contemporary furniture, stained glass and wonderfully wild gardens, in the medina. There are nine suites and rooms that mix Moroccan fabrics and decor with anglepoise lamps and statement furniture, gorgeous terraces with papaya and banana trees and a fabulous pool area that looks straight out of an interiors mag.
Details: Doubles from £90 B&B (00 212 5 24 38 54 51,www.riadmalika.com