Meryanne Loum-Martin’s first trip to Morocco inspired her passion for interior design, and in 1985, she moved from Paris to Marrakech to transform the city’s run-down riads into elegant boutique hotels. Jnane Tamsna, one of her best-known masterpieces, showcases her sophisticated eye for design and combines traditional Moroccan splendor with contemporary flair. Now, the Parisian lawyer-turned-hotelier has designed a porcelain collection for Meissen called Jardin de Marrakech and is writing a book that chronicles her 30-year immersion in Marrakech’s architecture, design and style. Here, the Renaissance woman speaks to Indagare about her favorite hotels, her Morocco travel tips and what’s on her bucket list.
What is your favorite aspect of living in Marrakech?
All is possible here for creative people.
Do you have a favorite site or activity in Marrakech?
I love going to the YSL Museum and the new Museum of Confluences, celebrating the history of tolerance in Morocco, through Islam, Judaism and Christianity. I enjoy walking in the Palmeraie, where I live and work, and in the Medina, which is always wonderful. I still feel like a tourist who happens to be very familiar with the place.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Marrakech?
The pool at Royal Mansour, the studio at the YSL Museum and a small French restaurant called Le Petit Cornichon are my favorites. I am looking forward to this winter’s opening of a 12-seat gourmet restaurant helmed by a chef who used to work for a Michelin-starred restaurant in Belgium. I’ve tried his food, and this restaurant will be at the top of my list. We are also planning to host a monthly pop-up with him at Jnane Tamsna.
What three things do you think every first-time visitor to Marrakech should do?
Visit Dar Si Said, with its perfect Moorish courtyard, the fascinating Palais Badi, and the YSL Museum and Majorelle Gardens, which showcase a deep love of Morocco and Marrakech by two foreigners.
What is your design process?
It is very fast and spontaneous. Space is analyzed, colors are envisioned, shapes are self-imposed. I am puzzled if the process is not immediate.
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Name a favorite city and describe a perfect day there.
Paris is my favorite city. I’d begin with a luxurious lunch, perhaps at L’Arpège. Then I would walk along the Quai Voltaire to visit galleries and head through Boulevard St-Germain to shop for shoes, custom jewelry and clothes. For dinner, I would stop at Trama, a neighborhood bistro popular with local Parisians that has outdoor seating in the summer (83 Rue du Cherche-Midi), or Monsieur Bleu for dinner in a hip, glitzy setting.
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What restaurant do you always bring out-of-towners to?
In Marrakech, I invite friends for a magical candlelit dinner in the garden at Jnane Tamsna.
What is always in your carry-on bag?
I bring clothes that are easy to accessorize, such as flat elegant shoes, statement pieces (like fabulous custom jewelry), a very good moisturizing cream, little gifts (for an unexpected dinner invite) and a good thriller.
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What is your favorite foreign dish?
I love Brazilian feijoada (a traditional stew of beans, pork and beef), because it reminds me of days dancing samba, eating and drinking batidas cocktails.
What trip has changed your perspective?
A solo trip though India in 1984. I had high expectations, and they were all satisfied.
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What is your favorite travel ritual?
I always eat breakfast in the hotel dining room (never in the room) and go for drinks at the destination’s most famous hotels.
What are some of your favorite hotels worldwide?
I like Devi Garh in Rajasthan, Las Alamandas in Mexico, Six Senses Yao Noi in Thailand and the Terrass-Hotel in Paris because it has great views, a charming staff and delicious food.
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