It’s easy to see how Marrakech captured the imaginations of writers, poets, artists and designers across the centuries. Today, the turreted city’s bohemian soul remains fully intact, as does its warren of lush and lavish secret courtyards. Head to the pink-walled Imperial Palace for Marrakech at its opulent best.
If you’re after a chic-but-private sanctuary amid the city bustle, the Royal Mansour offers an elegant stay, with sunshine, culture and culinary delights all achieved in one afternoon.
Set the scene:
There are views, and then there is the view from The Royal Mansour Marrakech. An endless sprawl of riad rooftops is animated with the call to prayer, the soundtrack of the markets below and nesting birds chirping in the high ruin walls. Beyond this, the Atlas Mountains lift into a magnificent haze. Inside, the luxury brief is taken seriously with eye-popping interiors, elaborate tiles and plants that recall old world afternoons made of tea and reading. Afternoons here have a similar habit of vanishing, often in Le Jardin alongside the pool which glistens in the sunshine, much like guests’ glasses of rosé.
In this Moroccan resplendent oasis, a private three-floor riad comes in place of a room. The hotel is a sprawling maze of 53 of them, each with a rooftop plunge pool, sun deck and bath (which are naturally big enough for two). A mirage-like scene of vivid-green olive trees, dusty-pink terracotta brickwork and wafting linen curtains unfurls inside. Blow-the-budget honeymooners should opt for the Grand Riad – a vast, palatial slice of the Royal Mansour decorated in haute couture fabrics and fine artworks.
Food and drink:
The World-famous chef, Yannick Alléno, waves his culinary wand at the Royal Mansour’s La Grande table Marocaine and Le Jardin, conjuring up exquisite menus as well as his signature playfulness. Expect mouth-watering seafood Pastilla, Strawberry Tajine with Sorbet and milk cream pastilla.
Built by the King of Morocco to house any overspill for his diplomatic and royal guests, the Royal Mansour understood the regal assignment. Decked in gold-leaf walls, green onyx floors, mosaics and carved ceilings, this is Moroccan maximalism at its best. Today, its lavish good looks continue to seduce honeymooners and couples seeking a romantic escape – particularly with the rare combination of poolside sunshine and royal-grade interiors.
A plugged-in children’s club keeps tiny tots stimulated (and well away from sunbathing parents). As mellow music plays across the pool, children disappear into Le Jardin de Lila to enjoy creative workshops, beginners’ Arabic courses, treasure hunts in the palace medina, and sport activities such as painting. So well-deserving parents can sip Moroccan tea and relish grilled prawns on their sun loungers, secure in the knowledge that their little ones’ will be fully engaged in thrilling adventures, within the hotel.
The spa is truly a show-stopper, adorned with hand-carved white marble and intricate ironwork that recalls the delicacy and skill of lace. In the spa guests are expertly pummelled, scrubbed then steamed to perfection in the hammam, de-stressed with a lymphatic drainage massage or pampered during a Green Caviar facial – the hotel’s exhaustive and extensive holistic wellness programme caters to all whims of wellbeing.
Le Jardin is a colourful, fragrant and enchanting restaurant where nearly all ingredients tow the seasonal and organic line. Freshly picked vegetables such as organic carrots, cardoons, turnips and broad beans are delicately prepared by the Royal Mansour Chefs for nourishing (and truly delicious) plates. Medicinal plants cultivated in the new bio-aromatic garden are used in infusions and are integrated into the Royal Mansour Spa well-being programme.
Lavish interiors and activities aside, the Royal Mansour is built into the city’s ancient walls, making it the perfect launchpad for exploring the medina (old town) via horse and cart, or on foot. Sunny, souk-lined streets and Marrakech’s hustling main square are within ambling distance. Yves Saint Laurent’s infamous garden of Eden, Jardin Majorelle, is not far, nor is the beautiful 14th century Islamic college – two charming day tripping options. Guests are met by the Royal Mansour team the moment they step off the flight and whisked to a VIP area for passports, then through security in the diplomatic lane (you are staying at the King’s hotel after all).
Riad suites from £900, royalmansour.com