The Royal Mansour is the holy grail of hotels. Commissioned by King Mohammed VI and built with an unlimited budget, which saw 1,500 craftsmen working three years to build. Set within Marrakech’s ancient medina, the grandeur begins before you even arrive at the hotel when you’re met at the arrivals gate and swiftly whisked through customs whilst the rest of the plane glance bitterly in your direction. Once through, a luxury car awaits to escort you to the decadent wonderland where your 3-story town house awaits. There’s nowhere else like it.
For something equally as beautiful and a little more traditional there’s La Sultana. Made from 5 adjoining Riads, each decorated in differing but complementary styles the hotel is full of life and character. Perfectly located inside the royal quarter of the Kasbah between the Royal Palace and the Saadian Tombs, of which there is an amazing birds-eye view from the roof terrace. Despite its location, the bustling Djemaa el-Fna is just a 10 minute walk away, it maintains a blissful calmness to it. We’ve done the rounds of luxury Riads in the Medina and La Sultana is our pick of the bunch.
Haggle for spices – No trip to Marrakech is complete without a trip to the souks. You’ll find an assortment of wears from rugs, copper light fixtures, spices, argan oil, jewellery, and some rather dodgy looking Gucci knock off’s, if that’s your thing.
Treat yourself to a Hammam – Not the most relaxing of spa treatments, but definitely one of the most effective. Book in for a good scrub on the first day of your holiday in order to prep your skin for the sun. It feels quite rough and a bit aggressive at parts, but the buff skin results are worth it.
Watch the sunset over Jemaa El-Fnaa from a rooftop bar – Here the main square is a destination for all the magic of Marrakech, you’ll find snake charmers, medicine men, tooth pullers and henna tattoo artists, be wary of people offering black henna designs, the black dye is known to contain a toxic chemical and can cause severe allergic reactions. Once you’ve wandered through the thousands of people, escape to a rooftop terrace to take in the view from above. Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier is always packed with tourists but it has the most incredible views of the square.
El Badia restaurant at Beldi Country Club – One of our favourites in Marrakech, this casual, open-air poolside restaurant serves up a lunch time 3 course Morrocan – Mediterranean menu for around £30, which also includes use of either of the two 35 meter pools for the afternoon. The grounds are vast and smothered in olive trees and rose gardens. There’s also a souk selling linen and Berber carpets if you fancy a more relaxing shopping experience to the souks. We only visited for the day but we’re already dying to go back for a stay at the hotel.
Le Jardin at The Royal Mansour – Adding to its already impressive restaurant selection is Le Jardin, set in the gorgeously landscaped gardens of Royal Mansour. The outdoor restaurant serves a mix of Asian and Mediterranean inspired plates, think tiger prawns in spicy honey, sea bream cerviche and the finest Wagyu beef. It’s the perfect way to get a taste of The Royal Mansour without forking out for a stay as Le Jardin also opens its doors to non-residents with a pool day pass.
Le Palace – Is one of Marrakech’s most glamorous supper club, cocktail bar, cigar lounge and nightclubs all rolled into one. On the two separate occasions that I’ve been here the food has been excellent. Sit outside on the terrace and order the signature dish; Crying Tiger Steak before moving onto cocktails in the downstairs club where the nightly house DJ’s set the tone for the night ahead. The décor is eclectic, dark, glam and evokes a more formal feel than other Marrakech nightspots making it the perfect place to dress up.
Jad Mahal – Is not to be missed, although not necessarily for the food. The atmosphere and spectacle is what makes it deserving of a visit. Arrive too early and you’ll be wondering what all the fuss is about, so book yourself a table around 8:30, order a couple of cocktails and soak up the buzz. It’s pricey considering the average food, but once you’ve witnessed the belly dancer show and live band who go on until the early hours, you’ll understand why its earned its reputation.
WHEN TO VISIT:
March to May and September to November usually have comfortable weather conditions. Although depending on your tolerance to heat you may be happy to travel during the summer months. We have visited in both June and August which was too hot to be away from a pool, but if you’re a heat lover like we are and plan on having a more relaxing pool based trip then it’s ideal.
Don’t even think about booking a trip to the Agafay dessert during these months though. Most of the camps shut down anyway during the hotter months, but being away from a pool in a tent with no air con is not where you want to be.
Ramadan takes place during May/June but we found that service resumed as normal in the hotels. If you’re thinking of dining out though you should avoid the hours of 7:30 till 8pm as many restaurants won’t serve food or drinks during this time so that the staff can break their fast. We found that taxi’s were more than happy to pick us up at any time, but we were mindful not to book during this hour.