Tucked into a smart residential area of the Palmeraie, this gem of a place, small and luxurious, has a wonderful staff who are fantastic with children. There are only seven bedrooms, which means it’s also a great place to take over for a house-party weekend. Done up in a terribly chic, modern Moorish style, the rooms have vast baths and comfortable beds; some also have large fireplaces. The three-acre garden offers a respite amid lemon trees. Other highlights: a serene heated pool, three sitting rooms and a library for gatherings. Private dinners can be arranged with sensational food and belly dancers, and a new hammam and massage area aid recovery. Rooms from $334.
This private estate is the creation of one of North Africa’s most stylish women, Meryanne Loum-Martin. Popular with fashion designers and celebrities for its privacy, the resort offers five country villas on a sprawling walled estate, twenty minutes from the medina. (The houses may be rented together or separately, and can accommodate up to forty-eight guests.) The muted bedrooms are decorated with Moroccan furniture, Senegalese textiles, Berber rugs and Asian silks. The place feels more like a home than a hotel, thanks to the care that has gone into choosing each painting, pillow and cherished objet. The air is filled with the scent of lavender and white oleander from the garden. Meals are a relaxed affair, and the homemade food is exquisite. Loum-Martin has even trained her staff to set the tables with flair. Powerful Moroccan massages can be done in the peace of your room, and In:Spa often hosts spa weeks here, so check the Jnane Tamsna Web site for upcoming dates. In her home across the way, Loum-Martin has a fabulous shop where you can buy locally made accessories and objects with an unusually refined touch. And come nightfall, Jnane Tamsna’s swimming pools are lit with hundreds of flickering votive candles that seem to echo the stars in the desert sky. Rooms from $521.
La Maison Arabe
Jewelry designer Gogo Ferguson raves about La Maison Arabe: “This is a beautiful small hotel in the medina.” Housing one of the top Moroccan restaurants since the 1940s, it was originally opened by two European women who created the first Moroccan restaurant in the medina near the Bab Doukkala Mosque. Over the years, a number of guest rooms were added and its current owner, Fabrizio Ruspoli, an Italian prince who fell in love with Morocco on childhood visits, just did a major expansion adding a new wing of ten modern guest rooms, a small pool and a wonderful second restaurant, Les Trois Saveurs.
One of the great pluses of La Maison Arabe is that it offers a town-and-country experience for its guests because it has a “country” annex just outside the city, which has a large pool area surrounded by gardens, so guests can stay in the medina but escape daily to the more relaxed outskirts. The pool feels like a secret walled garden, and hotel guests can enjoy lunch or dinner there under fig tree or in a caidale tent. Like all riad hotels, the rooms are on the small side but the new ones have pool views and balconies and a décor that is much less cluttered than that of the main Arab-Andalusian public rooms. Traditional crafts such as carved plasterwork, tadelakt wall painting and cedar ceilings were used but in a refreshing contemporary way. Other notable charms of the hotel: a gorgeous new hammam and very well regarded cooking school. Many of the ingredients come from the kitchen garden and the teacher is a famous dada, or traditional Moroccan chef. Rooms and suites from €190 to €660, depending on the size and season.
Note: La Maison Arabe features 26 rooms and suites. The 4 standard rooms do not have baths.
Favorite room: The Noor suite in the old wing has a private balcony and lovely old fashioned Moroccan expat décor with leather headboard, landscape paintings by French artists enamored with the region and lots of carved wooden details on the doors and furniture.
Riad Noir d’Ivoire
This riad, opened in 2008, is gorgeous without being pretentious, thoughtful without being clever, clever. Stay in the Chameau Suite, with its canopied four-poster and round sunken bath; it’s deeply romantic.
One of our most plugged in friends in Marrakech has told us that she loves the just opened Riad Tarabel. “It would be perfect for your type of clients,” she raved. “It is very stylish and great on exclusivity, very easy access at the entrance of Dar El Bacha.”
UPDATE: I had a chance to take a tour of the Riad Tarabel, which is currently in the midst of expansion, and it is definitely a special addition to the riad range in Marrakech. With only three guest rooms at present, it would be the perfect place for a few couples, a family or anyone seeking total privacy to take over as a rental. A true labor of love, the house was bought by Leonard Degoy, who had spent holidays in Marrakech for fifteen years before deciding to buy a riad. He hired the architect Romain Michel Menière to transform it into his ideal fantasy retreat. While maintaining the original Arabic layout and proportions, Menière and Degoy have brought a Provencal elegance to the property. (Tarabel is the name of his family chateaux in the south of France and many of the antiques and paintings came from the region.) Dainty iron garden furniture sits in an alcove off of the central courtyard where orange trees scent the air. In another corner sits a vintage rattan chaise shaded by a giant umbrella and next to it rests an antique birdcage. Regional decorative details like latticework and tadelakt walls have been subdued by a neutral palette of beiges and grays. There are many colonial influences but the overall atmosphere is that this is a private home, and technically it is. Not only do the Degoys spend time here, but since it only has three rooms (one suite and two guestrooms) at present, it is not a licensed hotel. It is, however, the kind of place that plugged in artists, photographers and designers retreat to and then pass along as a favorite address to their friends. There are lovely salon rooms, which are perfect for drinks or curling up with a book, a tiny hammam and a rooftop terrace where meals can be served. (There’s a housekeeper and cook who look after guests.) Once the riad next door is connected and another seven guest rooms and a small pool are added, Riad Tarabel will be more of a proper boutique hotel. I hope that it keeps its highly personal, intimate feeling, though, because that—and its Provencal-Moroccan aesthetic—is what sets it apart. Rooms from 170 euros, depending on the size and season. Riad rents from 900 to 970 euros a night, depending on the season.
Villa Rose Sultan
When this hotel opened in 2008, the New York Times reported: “The hotel, a secluded boutique compound on the outskirts of Marrakesh, comes with an impressive pedigree. The owner, Majid Ej Jennane, a grandson of the former pasha of the imperial city of Meknes, worked in marketing for Chanel and Hermès. Though open only since May of 2008, the Villa Rose Sultan has already welcomed high-profile guests like Jake Gyllenhaal.”
Read the article here.