Morocco’s glittering bohemian city is brighter than ever with a flash new pack of fabulous hotels
Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech – Villas in a secret garden
These are some serious digs: a total of 54 deeply private, one- and two-bedroom villas, all with creamy stone floors and carved tadelakt walls framed by stately columns (there are also nine first-floor rooms with fabulous Atlas views). The outdoor showers are enclosed with bamboo, while the courtyards have crackling wood fires and there are marble hammams in the bathrooms. A stroll through the 20 hectares of gardens, perfumed with the scent of 100,000 roses, leads to a spa and hammam of epic proportions, which unfurls in a series of graceful arches like those of the Mezquita in Córdoba. It’s the attention to hand-crafted details like these that sets the Mandarin apart from the city’s more blingy five stars, and there’s other carefully curated stuff too – from making dinner-party dishes with high-flying chef Meryem Cherkaoui to visiting Zitouna, the resident donkey, in the organic fruit and vegetable garden that will soon sprout the freshest juice bar in town. When the heat of the day gets too much just sneak back to the villa and spend the afternoon snoozing on a king-size daybed by the pool. This is somewhere to waft around indulging in all the extras, from yoga sessions to an in-room supper whipped up by a private chef.
Riad Goloboy – Bright bolthole in Sidi Mimoun
The designer of this beautiful riad, Beatrice Faujas, spent some time in the Soviet Union and its name comes from the Russian word for blue. Fittingly, she has painted the courtyard an eye-popping Majorelle blue, using it as a flamboyant foil for her gallery-worthy art collection, which ranges from a hot-pink canine sculpture in the lobby to a graffitied splash-back in the rooftop shower. The eight bedrooms are altogether more sultry, with a palette of dark metallics. The Catherine, for example, has aubergine walls, python-skin armchairs and a fireplace trimmed with hand-beaten metal. Creamy, intricately carved plaster makes a statement headboard for the bed. The bar and sitting room is finished in charcoal tadelakt with floors embossed in Islamic motifs that contrast pleasingly with pastel-coloured armchairs and gold velvet banquettes. The furniture was bought mainly at auction or specially commissioned, and every last stick is for sale. Work will soon begin on converting the house next door, which will add a large pool, spa and eight more bedrooms by the end of the year. But for now, this is a peaceful little hideaway in the heart of Sidi Mimoun, the neighbourhood that’s also home to La Mamounia. Cute and cosy with lovely staff, it’s just the kind of place to combine a low-key weekend with a spot of sightseeing.
Kasbah Beldi – A kasbah in the country
A 50-minute drive from Marrakech in the village of Amizmiz, this kasbah is absolutely charming but the real joy is its surroundings: a gigantic green lake fringed by pines, the honey-hued peaks of the Atlas so close you can almost touch them, and the conical shape of Toubkal dusted with snow. The Kasbah is the rural sibling to the well-established Beldi Country Club in town, and since it opened late in 2014 has become a popular base for long hikes or gaucho-style gallops across the plains. There are 30 bedrooms, a couple of dining rooms, a Berber tent, two swimming pools and a hammam lit by jewel-bright glass, all hidden hobbit-like among thickets of purple fountain grass. The best are the lodge rooms, each with a floor-to-ceiling window facing the mountains so as to soak up mesmerising sunrise views from your bed. After a wilderness escapade, recline on one of the Berber carpets laid out beneath an ancient holm oak and picnic on harira, lemony chicken tagine and chocolate mousse. At sunset, sit poolside with a cool bottle of Casablanca to watch the water on the lake flicker from emerald green to midnight blue – when evening comes, the canopy of stars unfolds above, unspoiled by city lights.
The Source – Rock star crashpad outside the city
This hip and friendly hotel is set in five hidden acres off the dusty road to Orika. Its rock-star theme was dreamt up by music-loving French owner Laurent Cohen, and his concept extends to a recording studio (with in-house technicians) and every conceivable instrument to play around with. The rooms (including two villas with private pools and an air-conditioned Berber tent) are imaginative and fun, with a stylish mix of handcrafted furniture. Each is different: the baroque, scarlet-walled Rolling Stones room; the Jimi Hendrix with a four-poster and a bath hidden behind a latticed wooden mashrabiya; the flashy silver Backstage artist’s lodge, or even the powder-pink Pompadour. All of which may sound over the top, but is in fact elegant and wonderfully laidback. The good vibes continue at the white-on-white spa with treatments that include the Sound of Silence (using resonating Tibetan bowls) and the Forever Young (an anti-ageing massage with argan oil and prickly-pear essences). The garden restaurant, surrounded by citrus trees, serves soups, Moroccan salads and chicken and lamb tagines, with skewers of fresh fruit and honey pastries for pudding. If you can tear yourself away from the pool (where local musicians jam at sunset) or the dramatic views over the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, the clamour of Marrakech is just a 20-minute drive away…
Handcrafted large circular wooden tray with white Moroccan stencilled artisan finish. Channel a decorative dimension into the heart of your interior design scheme with the Notre Monde White Marrakech Driftwood Tray Round Large. Inspired by traditional Moroccan textiles, this circular tray is characterised by its welcoming floral and geometric stencilled tray surface, set within a driftwood frame.