It’s a great time to visit Morocco, with flight times making it ideal for a weekend of winter sun, and this year, in order to support the ongoing earthquake relief effort, the reliance on money from tourism is greater than ever before
Located within the 12th-century ramparts surrounding the old medina, set in sprawling Royal Gardens scented with orange blossom, jasmine and cedar, this palatial property offers an oasis of peace away from the crowds in the nearby souks. Widely considered to be not just one of the best hotels in Marrakech, but in the world, it was recently awarded sixth place in the prestigious The World’s 50 Best Hotels list for 2023. Celebrating its centenary this year, the hotel has enjoyed a long history of attracting aristocrats and celebrities, so it should come as no surprise that the team here pride themselves on a tradition of luxury and service. With an average of four members of staff for every guest, service is attentive and personalised. Extravagant interiors were created by design house Jouin Manku and blend haute modern luxury with the hotel’s signature art deco style. Facilities are matchless, too, from the underground spa to the palm fringed pool, and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating and drinking, with no less than four bars, and four restaurants, plus an opulent tea salon.
FAIRMONT ROYAL PALM MARRAKECH
Situated 12km outside the city centre, this luxurious Moroccan hideaway is the perfect place to escape the bustle and noise of Marrakech. Sitting pretty in a 231-hectare estate of landscaped water gardens at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, the resort and country club comes complete with a 2,000 sq m, lake like swimming pool, and an 18-hole golf course. 134 exquisite rooms and suites are spread across a series of interlinked cubes, designed both to blend into the desert environment, and to ensure that each offers unobstructed views of either the garden, mountains or golf course from their private terrace. The interiors blend Berber-inspired design – think handwoven rugs and carved woodwork – with modern touches. Providing total privacy, at 741 sq m, the lavish Prince Villa is the largest of the accommodation on offer and boasts a private pool and hammam in its enclosed garden. Of course, you will also find ritual hammam baths in the tranquil spa, which has been designed in the style of a traditional Moroccan riad with an interior courtyard garden. Here, a menu of treatments inspired by the culture and traditions of North Africa is offered. There are five restaurants and two bars on site, meaning you will not need to leave the resort, if you so desire, though with Marrakech so close by, you would be foolish not to.
LA SULTANA, MARRAKECH
A truly extraordinary hotel, La Sultana is spread across five riads within the perimeter of Marrakech’s UNESCO World Heritage listed medina, just a 10-minute walk from the famous Jemaa El-Fnaa Square and close to the historic sites of the Saadian Tombs, the Royal Palace and the Bahia Palace. There are 28 richly decorated rooms and suites, each with its own individual style. A true showcase of Moroccan craftsmanship, each has been refurbished using traditional techniques passed down through the generations – think delicate stucco work, fine zellij tiling and intricate wood carving. The exotic pink marble-clad spa here is truly sensational, offering candlelit pools, a Jacuzzi, two hammams and a sauna, as well as a comprehensive menu of restorative treatments. There’s also a fully equipped gym, or, for those who prefer, yoga and Pilates sessions are offered on the hotel terraces. Meanwhile, the hotel pool, set in the gorgeous brick-lined courtyard of one of the riads provides a secluded spot to relax after a busy day of sightseeing. Perhaps our favourite spot, though, is the magnificent rooftop terrace that overlooks the ancient Tombs of the Saadian Kings and out across to the beautiful Atlas Mountains in the distance. Breakfast and lunch are served here, and it is also the perfect place to watch the sun rise as the medina comes to life, or stargaze on a clear Moroccan evening.