Luxury seekers take note, Marrakech needs to be next on your wish list. In a destination fast becoming synonymous with opulence, I have found the gold standard for luxury hotels in this already impressive city. Designed by none other than King Mohammad VI himself, so rest you can rest assured the following references to royal-worthy splendour are not thrown around flippantly.
Hidden away just a stone’s throw away from Marrakech’s ancient city walls, something very special awaits you, but you have to find it first. So well hidden is the Royal Mansour it is virtually invisible until you pass the security cordon, after which the hotel announces it presence with a triumphant entrance arc. Modelled on Marrakech’s signature city gate, it’s an impressive start and it only gets better from here on in. Palatial in both its proportions and grandeur, the Royal Mansour is an ornamental city within a city, comprising of 53 individual riads, ranging from 1 to 3 Bedrooms offerings, where space and privacy are very much the order of the day.
The grand approach
The Royal Mansours interiors are undoubtedly a feast for the eyes, standing as a testament to the incredible craftsmanship Morocco has to offer. A staggering 1,500 of the country’s finest artisans put their skills to excellent use bringing this vision to reality. Look out for the refined zellij (geometric mosaics – essentially Instagram like-bait so snap away), the carved cedar wood installations and ornate stuccowork. Magpies among you will rejoice, as it is said a huge 85% of the hotel is hand painted in gold and silver. A final flourish is added by rich damask fabrics and palette cleansers of lush greenery, highlighted by vast chandeliers by the dozen. Minimalists need not check in, this is maximalist grandeur done right.
Interior courtyards in the Royal Mansour riads
For those not familiar with the term riad, it is the term reserved for a traditional Moroccan house (or in this case palace) with an interior garden or courtyard. Rather than a room off a corridor in typical hotel style, each riad is a self-contained home over 3 stories, ensuring optimal space and privacy.
From your own private entrance, your riad opens onto a beautifully tiled courtyard, with a sound track provided by the idyllic trickle of running water from a fountain, which is often frequented by birds taking a dip in the morning. This leads you into a vast living area fitted with every mod con you could hope for and onto the second floor where you will find regal bedrooms and marble clad bathrooms. And last but not least, the riads crowning glory, the ochre rooftop. Your own private oasis, complete with refreshing plunge pool, perfect for sunbathing by day whilst taking in the city views. As the sunsets, ask your attendant to light the wood burner whilst you watch the city begin to sparkle with the evening’s activities.
Pool side at the Royal Mansour, Marrakech
Within such luxurious settings you can expect to be rubbing shoulders with the international good and the great, indeed the King is said to be a regular visitor, bringing only his most valued guests. With such a high calibre of clientele it will come as no surprise that service at the Royal Mansour is of the upmost priority. With 500 members of staff on hand at one time, you would expect the winding pathways around the riads to be a hub of activity. However thankfully the grounds are serenely calm, with only the occasional wandering guest, thanks to an intricate network of underground tunnels, which allow staff to serve the riads quickly and discretely. Only adding to the peaceful micro-climate of the Royal Mansour, a world away from the hubbub of the city mere feet away.
Given the luxurious trappings and the self-contained nature of the riads, not to mention the unparalleled service, it is tempting to live, eat and swim within your own riad and you would be forgiven to doing so. But it is well worth venturing out to explore the 5 hectares of fragrant Moorish gardens, which frame the large communal pool. The cool water of which is sure to offer the sweetest relief in the heady summer months.
Without doubt the Royal Mansour is a foodie go to, with the renowned Michelin starred chef Yannick Alleno leading their culinary offering across their 3 original restaurants. This December saw the newest addition, SESAMO, open its doors, where the team led by Massimiliano Alajmo, serve the flavours of Italy in a majestic (and thoroughly Moroccan) setting. The hotels French and Moroccan offerings are top notch too, not to mention the sushi which can be found pool side at Le Jardin. With everything it has to offer, it’s unsurprising to learn the Royal Mansour was recently named as the number one hotel in Africa in Conde Nast Travellers The Readers Choice Awards in 2019. Rightly so, as this is an unforgettable experience, a one of a kind dip into another world, memories of which will far outlast the trinkets you purchase in the souks during your stay.
Artisan interiors, the lobby at the Royal Mansour
As a side note, in all my travels, it is safe to say I never wished for a longer transfer to the airport, until now. Royal Mansour is conveniently only two miles away from Marrakech Menara airport. Transfers are included in the price of your stay, but don’t expect a cramped shuttle bus, this is the Royal Mansour after all. Your ride is none other than a rather regal gold Bentley, delivering you door to door in the grandeur to which you have now, thanks to the Royal Mansour, become accustomed to. A departure fit for a king (or indeed queen) you could say. Good luck adjusting back to normal life.
- Lucy Coghlan was a guest of the Royal Mansour, Marrakech, where a 1 bedroom riad starts from £900 per night www.royalmansour.com.