Gateway to the Atlas Mountains, Morocco's Marrakesh is known as the Red City. It was nicknamed as such in 1062 for the red wall that was built around it as protection.
This vibrant conurbation in North Africa has a world-famous medina (old town), incredible shopping, and intriguing Moorish and Arabic architecture. One can lose themselves in the winding bazaars intoxicated by the intricate labyrinth of alleyways where peddlers sell handwoven rugs, brightly coloured slippers, spices, traditional Moroccan teapots and lanterns. Barter your way through and then behold the hypnotic square, Djemaa el Fna where snake-charmers, fortune-tellers, henna tattoo artists, musicians, and food stalls swirl about the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque. Marrakesh has vibrant arts and culture scene where East converges with West and old and new intertwine. Ancient monuments sit side by side with fashionable neighbourhoods brimming with restaurants and nightlife and five-star hotels. Marrakesh casts a spell on all who visit, it stirs the senses so much that it is essential to find bolt holes to escape the sights and sounds of the city.
The BusinessClass.com guide to the best hotels in Marrakesh:
Four Seasons Marrakesh - 9/10
Nestled between the city’s ancient medina and the cosmopolitan neighbourhoods of the Ville Nouvelle – the Four Seasons Marrakesh is set within 16 hectares of Moorish gardens and pools. Unwind in the Moroccan spa or take in views of the Atlas Mountains from your private terrace. A 40 square-metre Pool Terrace room features a cosy sitting area overlooking the Atlas Mountains and offers a marble bathtub complete with amenities including down-pillows and fluffy white bathrobes. The room features a media hub and all mod conveniences but a daily newspaper is still delivered every day to help keep you up-to-date with all the latest news.
The hotel as an array of dining facilities on offer. Quattro showcases the cultural blend between southern Italy and Morocco - offering authentic Sicilian pizzoli as a contrast to the Moroccan palette. Take a seat under the olive trees at Azzera and graze on flame-grilled meats and fresh seafood - by the pool - before rounding off with the famous Four Seasons Marrakesh pistachio ice cream. At Inara, savour the mint tea and chicken tagine in the palm-fringed lounge at the heart of the resort – modelled after a traditional riad. Immerse yourself in the Moroccan culture as the hotel’s resident tea expert teaches you the secrets to brewing the perfect pot of authentic local mint tea. Alternatively, relax in an exotic setting while enjoying traditional shisha, a popular pastime for gatherings of friends. Get to grips with nature as you relax in the spa’s mosaic-tiled hammam with a full-body exfoliation caked in a soothing body mask made from Atlas Mountains clay.
Mandarin Oriental Marrakesh – 9/10
Mandarin Oriental, Marrakesh is a sanctuary within 20 hectares of manicured gardens set against the backdrop of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. Ten minutes’ drive from the heart of the Medina, the hotel offers secluded villas with private gardens, swimming pools, extensive areas for sunbathing and shaded alfresco dining. The spectacular suites feature panoramic vistas of the gardens and the surrounding countryside. A highlight is the four-bedroom Grand Villa covering 1000 square metres. It boasts many bathrooms and a dining area - all within a walled courtyard with a pool.
There are a variety of exceptional restaurants and bars, and a world-class spa - La Medina inspired by the historic cathedrals and mosques of Andalucia. Spread over 1800 square metres, this mecca for wellness features high arched ceilings, long corridors built from red brick and a stunning sun-drenched ornamental pool leading off reception, making the spa’s design one of the most beautiful in Marrakesh. Channel your inner spirit in this temple of wellbeing within one of six treatment rooms complete with Vitality baths, outside treatment areas, private gardens. Alternatively choose the Thai treatment suite or luxurious Moroccan hammams.
Royal Mansour Marrakesh - 9/10
At the Royal Mansour Marrakesh, guests will find luxury riads scattered across a medina with lanes and secret doors. Each of the 53 unique three-storey private residences are Moroccan style with selected fabrics, wood features, rugs, carved plaster, custom-made furniture, and roof terraces with views of the Atlas Mountains and a private pool. Guests can dine in sublime restaurants run by two three-Michelin-star chefs. Yannick Alléno oversees La Grande Table Marocaine - considered ‘the best restaurant in Marrakesh’ for its modern and traditional local cuisine. Meanwhile, Massimiliano Alajmo is at the helm of Le Jardin – an open-air restaurant, with pergolas, where one can enjoy garden salads, tapas, barbecues, Asian-style ceviche, sushi, and other Japanese delicacies.
The Royal Mansour Spa’s beautiful hammam and ten spa rooms plunges guests into an immersive traditional Moroccan experience. Treat yourself to a Ghassoul wrap or a floral water spray while being lathered in marocMaroc, Sisley, Intraceuticals, Subtle Energies and Dr Burgener products. The hotel is just a few steps away from the famous Jemaa El Fna square and its focal point - Marrakesh Palace.
Amanjena - 9/10
Amanjena translates as "peaceful paradise" and this slice of heaven is part of the Aman collection. Designed by the famed American architect Ed Tuttle, this Moorish Palace was designed with earthen buildings in the style of Berber villages. Its rose-blush walls are inspired by the Red City itself. This oasis of palms trees and vines with colonnaded walkways and marble fountains filled with petals is tucked into the high Atlas Mountains away from the outside world. Step into paradise as you behold the splendour of this property. Find Moroccan-style Pavilions and two-storey ‘townhouse’ Maisons arranged in a fan shape around the pool and the crème de la crème is the Al-Hamra Maison with glorious mountain views.
Inside one can find majestic king-sized beds, ample living space with a fireplace. Bathrooms feature stunning pink tubs set in blue and green marble, surrounded by pillars, twin vanities, dressing areas, sunbeds, and all mod cons. One need not raise a finger with butlers on demand. For those in the mood for Japanese food, Nama serves delectable sushi and izakaya-style sharing plates, while the main restaurant rustles up Italian and Moroccan fusion within a beautiful garden setting. For pure relaxation visit the hammam, then burn some calories in the indoor gym. Take a dip in the 33-metre swimming pool, play a game of doubles on the floodlit tennis courts, or peruse the hotel’s extensive library for a good book. Others can simply shop until they drop in the hotel’s boutique. The hotel’s secluded location is appealing for those who wish to escape the chaos of the city.
La Villa des Orangers - 9/10
La Villa des Orangers is a traditional Moroccan riad with an interior courtyard built in the 1930s as a home and converted into a magnificent hotel in the late nineties. This exquisite property has just 27 dwellings spread across two levels. Stay in terraced deluxe rooms, duplex junior suites, master suites or even a private residence of your own. The standalone riad accommodates up to five people with two double bedrooms containing queen or single beds, two bathrooms with twin vanity sinks, a shower and tub. All modern conveniences are catered for with Wi-Fi, a Nespresso service and minibar. The terrace features a solarium, private patio outdoor lounge and pool.
This sprawling but intimate property forms a shaded oasis to relax and unwind. There are three heated pools and a long basin pool to splash in. At the Villa des Orangers restaurant guests can graze on gourmet food beside the fireplace or beneath citrus blooms. Discover the Nuxe Spa which takes inspiration from Arabian Nights with a majestic 60-square metre hammam built in the traditional Moroccan bath style with five massage booths and an additional one suitable for couples. The hotel is close to Koutoubia Mosque, sandwiched between the Royal Palace and the lively Jemaa El Fna Square.
Oberoi Marrakesh - 9/10
Amid 28 acres of Mediterranean orchards sits a stunning Moroccan-style building inspired by the 14th century Ben Youssef Madrasa. In the Oberoi Marrakesh, guests can relax beneath a blossom of citrus and centuries-old olive groves as they gaze upon the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. Deluxe villas with private pools span 197 square metres of luxury, containing a master bedroom and bathroom while presidential villas are almost twice the size at 375 metres and boast private pools and gardens. Inside find soaring ceilings and handcrafted furnishings. There is a master bedroom, pantry and a private garden with a large terrace framing views of the Atlas Mountains and lush gardens. Finally, the Royal suite covers 320 square metres and features a king-sized bedroom, a dressing space, a marble ensuite bathroom and a separate living space with a grand fireplace.
Survey the impressive views of the Atlas Mountains, the grand canal, and the orchards from the heated pool on the large sun terrace. Feeling hungry, then there are a few venues to eat. Siniman and Taminet both specialise in seasonal produce from their organic garden and brings it to guests’ plates. Siniman focuses on Moroccan cuisine, while Tamimt serves Mediterranean, Indian, and international dishes. Mark a special occasion at Taminet surrounded by paintings and grand chandeliers and dine under the frescoed domed ceiling at Azore or simply enjoy poolside snacks outside. Rejuvenate in the 2,000 square metre SAHA Oberoi spa with therapy suites, pampered in Moroccan style with Alqvimia treatments and Oberoi signature massages.
Riyad el Cadi - 9/10
Seven riads form the basis of this boutique guest house founded by the esteemed diplomat Herwig Bartels. Situated in the heart of the Medina it has three entrances, making it an ideal bolthole from the hustle and bustle. Choose from double rooms, single rooms, and suites. However, for a truly unique stay, the Blue House is a “house within a house” ideal for families or small groups. Inside this quaint dwelling one can find a private courtyard with small sitting room ideal for private parties, a kitchenette, and private terraces for lengthy sunbaths. There are also two bedrooms with double beds in the Blue Room on the ground floor and the Kilim Room on the first floor.
The main restaurant serves tagines and exotic salads underneath the citrus trees in the summer months and by the fire when the weather turns colder. Retreat to the spa for an indulgent black soap scrub and massage before being served mint tea. Or have a manicure followed by a facial using products based on Argan oil. This super oil commonly known for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties is found only in Morocco. The products in the Riyad El Cadi spa all contain natural ingredients ranging from argan oil and rose water to Ghassoul clay.
Riad Farnatchi - 9/10
Escape to a world of mystique and tradition and find ten luxury suites in the historic heart of the Marrakesh Medina at Riad Farnatchi. Rooms are stunningly decorated and the beds are dressed in Egyptian cotton sheets and all come with satellite television, Bose iPod docks, on-demand movies, stereo cd players, telephones, and Wi-Fi. All suites feature both air conditioning and central heating for the winter months. Each one is numbered and unique inside. Suite Number One is a self-enclosed riad with exquisite hand-carved plasterwork, a bedhead made from an antique Moroccan door frame and a vast glazed lantern over what had once been its courtyard. Suite Six is a duplex styled in true Moroccan fashion with bright splashes of vivid colours and Middle Eastern influences. Step out onto its large private sun terrace from the bedroom and overlook the pool while suite nine is magnificently furnished with an ornate doorway and hand-carved metal and plasterwork and its own private courtyard.
Enjoy Moroccan fine dining at Le Trou au Mur on the rooftop overlooking the Medina. Meals are based on family recipes are slow roasted in the traditional clay mechoui oven and there are also gourmet burgers and Tagines. Le Farnatchi has two beautiful candlelit dining rooms with comfortable seating for 24 people, two sitting rooms and B’hous. There is also a roof garden, complete with sun loungers, dining tables for 16 people and a barbeque. Farnatchi Spa showcases marble hammams with vaulted ceilings and tranquil treatment rooms with showers. Guests can indulge in Ila and Nectarome treatments and graze on healthy meals while children enjoy zip wire and obstacle courses on site.
Les Deux Tours - 9/10
Away from the cacophony of the Medina, in the city’s lush Palmeraie, is the tranquil boutique hotel - Les Deux Tours. Amid lush three-hectare park ripe with Andalusian gardens, pools and fountains, 40 garden and pool suites blend into the surrounding environment. Rooms have unique characteristics from Tartari ceiling, Bejmat tiles, a stone fireplace or carved ceilings. However, the suites are superb and come with hand-carved wooden frescoes at the head of the bed. So Chic Suite, Charles Boccara Suite and Happy Family Suites which are all exceptional in terms of space, décor, and comfort. This destination scores highly in terms of gastronomy. Nibble on club sandwiches and salads or tasty barbeque food under shady trees beside a swimming pool in the serene garden at La Pergola or savour their local specialties; tajines, pastillas and briouates. Meanwhile, Salammbô, serves fine French and Moroccan cuisine in a refined setting indoors, with the option to bask in the sunshine with a cool glass of vino or arrange private dining by candlelight.
The terrace is a trendy spot to watch the sunset as a resident mixologist prepares artistic cocktails. Pay a visit to Les Bains des Deux Tours spa for relaxation time. After the spa therapists take you on a journey through their Oriental beauty rituals, surrender your senses to the warm, steamy hammam and its hot bathing pool. This hotel is great for kids featuring special menus and activities, including a babysitting service, to keep the little ones entertained as you relax.
La Mamounia - 9/10
The truly luxurious La Mamounia Hotel faces the Atlas mountains yet is in the beating heart of the old city of Marrakesh. The hotel was built in 1929 by Henri Prost and Antoine Marchisio on the 15-hectare palace and garden sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah gave to his son Moulay Mamoun in the 18th century. So, striking is the hotel that Alfred Hitchcock decided here was perfect to film his 1956 movie The Man Who Knew Too Much, starring James Stewart and Doris Day. Accommodation is organised into rooms, suites, signature suites and riads.
Four restaurants onsite ensure that all culinary tastes are catered for and include L’Italien par Jean-Georges, Le Pavillon de la Piscine, L’Asiatique par Jean-Georges and Le Marocain. The Churchill is both a wine bar and eatery named for the wartime British Prime Minister who described Marrakesh as "simply the nicest place on Earth to spend an afternoon". This establishment oozes with British class from its menu of smoked salmon and caviar to its finest selection of Champagnes and Grand Cru. You will not go thirsty in this hotel as there are three more venues on site including Le Bar de la Piscine, Le Lounge Marocain and Le Bar Majorelle. Alternatively, take an elegant afternoon tea at The Tea Rooms or visit Le Salon de Thé par Pierre Hermé for delectable chocolates and cakes. After all that indulgence, work off some calories at the gym and then soothe away aches and pains at the Spa at La Mamounia, where trained therapists are on hand for massages, relaxing hot stones, and reflexology.
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