The hustling, bustling city of Marrakech in Morocco is alive with culture and commerce. Framed by the magnificent Atlas Mountain range, the Red City is located just above the Sahara desert, bursting at seams and teaming with life. Not for the feint hearted, Marrakech can seem intimidating at first, and with its 1000 year trading history where seemingly everyone is out to make a buck. But stick to the beaten track and you’ll find some of the most spectacular sights in the world, and surround yourself with opulent Moroccan luxury and exquisite food and drink.
Where to stay
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing resort in the desert, or an intimate Riad in the heart of the city, there’s something for everyone in Marrakech, and no shortage of 5 star hotels to chose from. We visited some of the best in the region.
The Four Seasons
Located on the edge of the historic Medina, The Four Seasons Marrakech resort is magnificently nestled amongst 40 acres of luxurious gardens, and provides a beautiful escape from the bustling city. Popular with older and younger guests alike, there is something for everyone in this beautifully purpose built complex, with a huge variety of amenities including tennis courts, stunning pools and exquisite restaurants.
As expected from the 5 star luxury resort, a complementary car services is provided to help you explore the historical city in complete comfort, and located just 10 minutes from Djemaa el-Fna means many of the tourist attractions are within reach.
The resort’s 139 rooms and 27 suites are built around a stunning central boutique courtyard, with pools, sun loungers and immaculately landscaped gardens. For an ultimately intimate stay, we highly recommend the private 2-storey villas, which are exceptionally well appointed and feature their own pools. The impeccable interiors of all the resorts rooms are finished in a contemporary style, with beautiful furnishing and lavish decor. The marble clad bathrooms are a real showstopper, with integrated tech and large sumptuous double baths. The finish, cleanliness and service is all flawless.
The Selman Marrakech
Relax in opulent splendour at the world renowned Selman Marrakech resort, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. Frequented by royalty, the ornate, boutique style hotel merges French and Moroccan design styles, culminating in a truly unique and extremely luxurious intimate space. Designed by architect Jacques Garcia, using intricate handmade Arabic mosaics alongside Imperial style grand chandeliers, he creates a fascinating blend of old meets new in this fabulously dark and mysterious retreat.
Spanning an impressive 15 acres of immaculate gardens, the resort is built around owner Abdeslam Bennani Smires’ passion for thoroughbred horses, with impeccable stables open for guests to explore and a twice weekly dressage show accompanies your evening meal at one of the on-site restaurants, Assyl. The equestrian theme is subtly featured throughout the resort, from beautiful photography on the walls, to the intricate carvings and decor, and even the group logo. This equine love gives the resort a real sense of character.
Royal Mansour Marrakech
The Royal Mansour is a traditional Riad – a Moroccan style townhouse style hotel – featuring spectacular tiled interior, lavishly adorned with decor fit for a king, this one especially so. Commissioned and owned by King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the interior design, amenities and service is unquestionably suitable for a ruler. As far as Riads go, the Royal Mansour is widely considered the best of the best, and is a calming oasis amidst the chaos which intoxicates the senses.
Where to dine
Marrakech is famed for it’s food, and with culinary delights everywhere you turn, it can be difficult choosing the best spots. Here are our top fine-dining recommendations.
Located within The Four Seasons hotel, Quattro is a southern Italy inspired fine dining restaurant, set in possibly the best venue we have discovered in Marrakech. The concept focusses on 4 regions of Italy, hence the name.
Seasonal ingredients are used to create a range of fabulous dishes that really showcase the the cultural blend between southern Italy and Morocco, which is the ethos instilled by Executive Chef Thierry Papillier, and invites guest to join him on the culinary journey to his native country.
We highly recommend dining on the terrace if the weather permits, which offers spectacular views of the resorts immaculately kept gardens and water features.
Situated in the grounds of The Selman Marrakech resort, Assyl is a fine dining take on traditional Morrocan cuisine. Renowned for its local flavours, Assyl serves up an a la carte menu of traditional tagines, meticulously prepared meats, and fresh local vegetables. Andalusian musicians create a traditional atmosphere, adding to the lavish decor reminiscent of an Ottoman palace. We were particularly impressed with the mechoui lamb shank with vegetable couscous, and the beef tanjia Marrakchia, each meticulously prepared for 8 hours and served piping hot. The succulent meat fell away from the bone, and the accompanying dishes further showcased the diversity of Moroccan gastronomy with bold flavours and rich aromas.
Legendary in Marrakech, this Franco-Moroccan boutique style restaurant serves dishes with panache, and rarely fail. The atmosphere and theatrics are extremely impressive. Unlike your usual dining offerings, Le Comptoir is a considered mix of restaurant, lounge and boutique, situated in a large Art Deco style villa. We recommend venturing to the upstairs bar for pre-dinner drinks, and you’ll instantly see what the fuss is about, and where the renowned reputation has derived.
Le Comptoir certainly attracts a younger, more aesthetically pleasing crowd, who subscribe to the Instagram way of life, which is fine, just don’t be surprised by all the selfies. It’s no wonder, the large, plush boudoir-red dining room is decedent and luxurious. The menu is a fusion of French, Moroccan and Asian flavours, and so caters for any taste, whether you fancy a couscous and magret de canard dish, or beef with ginger, soya and sesame rice bowl, the choice is eclectic.
Later on in the evening when diners are well and truly settled in, an ensemble of belly dancers descend the staircase to provide the entertainment, with table dancing being the highlight. The venue carries on buzzing, upstairs and down, until late in the night, with plenty of room to dance and cavort.
Where to relax
For a truly luxurious experience, exploring the spas and hammams is an essential part of relaxing in Marrakech. We discover some of the best in the region.
Henri Chenot spa
Located within the Selman resort, the Henri Chenot spa is a real escape from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. An Oriental-inspired space features a multitude of indoor and outdoor heated pools, high-tech beauty and fitness facilities, along with treatments ranging from facials to full body massages. The spa is a wonderfully serene place, free for all guests to visit, and we highly recommend that you do.
Authentic Moroccan Hammam Experience
Indulge in a deep steam session in the beautiful mosaic-tiled hammam at the Four Seasons Resort. Here you can enjoy a full-body exfoliation and soothing body mask made from Atlas Mountains clay. Set in a wonderfully serene spa, there are a range of relaxing an rejuvenating treatments to help you relax and unwind, including a sensual Argania Massage, and wellness sessions like Yoga and Zen-focussed stretching classes.
We highly recommend taking a trip to the Majorelle Gardens, which was commissioned by luxury fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
Venturing out of the Marrakech Medina, you can find shade and tranquillity at the gorgeous, vibrant majorelle blue gardens. Home to a notable cacti collection, various birds species native to North Africa, and an explosion of colour. Whether it’s the chequered green-yellow tiles, the bright red paves, the cobalt blue of the museum house, the zen-inspiring green of the bamboo ‘forest’ or the odd plant pot, this place makes for a worth while journey out of the heart of the city.
Where to drink
Whilst Morocco isn’t typically synonymous with nightlife and entertainment, the progressive city of Marrakech has some truly world-class night clubs and bars. Playing host to some of the biggest DJs and acts, the main area for partying is the Djemma el Fna Square. Just a short taxi ride from the main hotels, it’s a convenient and lively spot.
Located in the Four Seasons hotel, the bar at Inara restaurant is a beautifully tranquil spot, and evening drinks on the terrace is a must. The stand out range of signature cocktails are as refreshing as they are unique. Inspired by Moroccan cuisine and flavours, there’s a beautifully garnished drink for any taste and preference. The mezzanine overlooks the fountains of the stunning resort, intimately lit and sumptuously furnished.
Cited as one of the best nightclubs in the region, with a plethora of nightly events, Theatro is a vibrant, lively and impressive spot. With explosive sounds and light shows, expect top DJs and performers on the clubs impressive roster. For the very best experience we recommend indulging in one of the VIP packages, which includes a table, bottle service and dedicated hostess to ensure a relaxing and enjoyable evening. Expect a lively mixed crowd from all over the world in a decadent and immersive international club experience.