If it is your first time in the beautiful city, a stay at the Royal Mansour hotel, winner of the 2018 Prix Villégiature award for Best Hotel in Africa, is a wonderful experience. The famous palace hotel boasts 53 riads, creating a city within a city, with each individual riad spread over three floors with a rooftop terrace to relax in and take in the sweeping views of the grounds. The hotel is also home to arguably the best fine dining restaurant to sample Moroccan cuisine. La Grande Table Marocaine spoils your senses with an authentic menu that features pastillas, tajines and of course couscous in a wonderful oriental décor. The village-like hotel is a haven with an extraordinary level of quietness despite the hotel itself being located in the heart of the Medina. With sprawling grounds with lush gardens, it is easy to get lost in the romance of living like royalty in gorgeous Marrakesh.
Shopping and bargaining in the souk at Jemaa El Fna is all part of the Marrakesh experience. Get lost in the maze that is the souk, with alleys leading from one stall to another, selling everything from spices to kaftans. In the belly of the souk the Marché aux Epices is hidden, with charming cafés and more stalls selling woven bags to choose from. The market is open all day, though it really comes alive at night with the food market setting up in the middle of the square and street artists entertaining passersby on their way into the souk for traditional souvenirs.
Yves Saint Laurent changed the look of fashion and at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent the designer’s love and life are celebrated through a wonderfully curated permanent exhibition in the city he loved to escape to. Walk through the retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent’s designs, from his iconic tuxedo to his famous Mondrian collection, and admire the designer’s talent and avant-garde designs that changed fashion forever.
A gorgeous attraction located just next door to the Musée Yves Saint Laurent is the Jardin Majorelle. The botanical garden is an open invitation to wander around a colourful paradise and to get lost in the lush greenery peppered with vibrant azure blue and yellow vases, guiding you through the garden and to the Berber Museum, which is housed on its grounds. The sprawling grounds also feature an impressive Cubist villa that was designed in the 1930s by French architect Paul Sinoir who resided there with his wife and which was later bought by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé.
Rolling in a seaweed wrap might make you feel, and smell, like a wakame salad, but at The Chenot Vitality spa at the Selman Hotel, it is a way to detoxify your body. Leaving you feeling light and with soft skin, the treatment is only one of the cures available at the facility that is renowned for it personalised programmes. While The Chenot spa isn’t a weightloss clinic, it does offer personalised programmes and 3 to 12-day cures to help you find balance, for both your mind and body. Another way the Selman Hotel invites you to leave your worries away is by diving into its outdoor pool. The proud title-owner of being the longest swimming pool in Africa, the Selman pool is only one of the attractive features found in this unique hotel. Making for a wonderful destination for an Arabian dream getaway, and where Madonna famously celebrated her 60th birthday, the Selman Hotel boasts horse stables that are home to award-winning thoroughbreds.
Another address worth visiting while in Marrakesh is La Mamounia. The plush hotel that was nominated for the 2018 Prix Villégiature award for Best Hotel in Africa, is an inviting palace of luxury, complete with a warm signature scent created by Fragonard. Designed by French designer Jacques Garcia, La Mamounia is a perfect mix of traditional and modern design, bringing together the luxury of today with intricate arabesque detailing that recall traditional moroccan décor.
The hotel, which hosts the Marrakesh International Film Festival, is a legendary address of the city, with the glamorous hotel attracting jetsetters and stars from all over the world who are looking to escape to an exotic location.
All photos © Sandra Iskander