Morocco is, for many, a first choice getaway, particularly if Europe is your base. A short 3-4hr flight to Marrakech avoids jetlag and lands in almost guaranteed sunshine. Morocco is a north African destination that feels instantly transporting and exotic.
Leave before breakfast and enjoy brunch on a sultry roof terrace overlooking the ancient city or, beside a resplendent pool under soaring palms. What’s more, the fabulous riads and glittering palace hotels are only a 15-minute transfer from the airport.
Once an imperial city, Marrakech, in western Morocco, was founded in 1071 under the Almovarides dynasty, which is when the terracotta rampart walls were built. It is the major economic centre of the country though it is renowned for its art, history, culture… and those gorgeous Berber rugs. There are mosques, palaces, souks, radiant riads and the standout Moorish minaret, the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque. The Jemaa el Fna Square bustles by day and night with henna tattoo artists, snake charmers, costumed water carriers, fortune-tellers, spice stalls and much, much more.
Marrakech can divide opinion: some get lost while others lose themselves. On the one hand it is hectic and disorienting while on the other it’s somewhere extraordinarily alluring. We have stayed in and selected four piquant gems in Marrakech and another in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, while simultaneously ‘losing ourselves’ in the entrancing beat and exotic rhythm that permeates Morocco’s rambling morphology.
The best luxury hotels in Marrakech
We have cherry-picked the four best luxury hotels in Marrakech, each enjoying fabulously different but authentic characters and local idiosyncrasies. All offer excellent service and five star pleasures: four different reasons to escape to Morocco, or the chance to combine experiences by booking more than one. The desert and the mountains are not far from the city and trips to these places are easy to organise, along with stays in some glorious resorts.
La Mamounia is a 5-star luxury palace-hotel with a flamboyant and enduring legacy, located just outside the city walls. It offers grand-luxe and privacy in captivating Babylon-styled gardens with glorious pools, inside and out, a knock-out spa, hammams, boutiques, and slick service. Wake up in wonder to the soundtrack of prayer and songbird, with a private terrace offering a bird’s eye-view across the beguiling city to the Atlas Mountains and beyond.
Inside the medina, El Fenn oozes boho-chic and authentic Arabic vibes like none other. It is arty and hip as the name infers, with outstanding artwork, suites that go beyond your dreams, a staggering 7,000ft roof terrace, several courtyards with pools, and service so discreet it feels like home. There is an echt-kickback-magic here that leaves you spellbound, making it a first choice for returners… over and over again.
La Villa des Orangers, located a mere 5-minute walk from Jmaa El Fna square, is the elegant ‘Armani’ of Marrakech. It is serene, stylish, tranquil and exquisitely detailed. The polished African notes create a unique atmosphere of place, while the idyllic setting of sparkling courtyards, a mesmerising olive-tree framed pool and sumptuous pristine suites, makes this Relais & Chateaux gourmet residence a private oasis of near ‘pure Moroccan perfection’.
Amanjena is a dusky-pink palatial resort with drop-dead pavilions, mesmerising water features and skyscraper palms. Nestled in magnificent style within the Palmeraie oasis, with glorious views across to the Atlas Mountains, it offers that unique ‘Aman’ exclusivity along with authentic pleasures and faultless service. Luxury at its finest, Amanjena feels idyllic, being that little further from urbanity, while its proximity to the mountains makes day excursions a simple choice.
Thirty minutes from Marrakech we recommend The Capaldi, in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, offering a tranquil escape from the hubbub of Marrakech. A personal project of the owners, The Capaldi offers spacious rooms, tropical gardens, pools and a fine French restaurant.
Full hotel reviews coming soon, but please contact our concierge for informed advice about a memorable escape to exotic Morocco.