Friday, 23 January 2015

Insiders Guide I: Our favorite places to stay

Marrakech is the perfect getaway destination. With direct flights from Stockholm, London, Paris, Amsterdam and many more the red city city works perfect both for exotic weekends as well as longer stays to explore the Atlas mountains and coast outside the city. Marrakech is sunny and warm all year round but the optimal time to visist is March-May and September-November. Here you find our favorite places to stay, check them out and book your trip today!

The spa at La Mamounia

There are very many different options of accommodation in Marrakech. Some of the best and most luxurious hotels in the world are here as well as cheap and charming B&B riads. The first choice you have to make is if you want to stay in the medina (old city) or outside the city where the resorts are. In the medina you find charming riad hotels of all kinds, from budget to top end. The medina is where the charm is and you get the real "Marrakech feeling" and the magic of the souks. To escape from the hectic buzz in the medina into your own little palace is a very unique experience.

If you are only in town for a few days we suggest you chose a riad in the medina. If you stay for a week or more you can combine a few nights in a riad with additional nights in a resort outside town. For instance you find Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Oberoi, Beachcomber, Taj, Nikki Beach and other international luxury hotels some 20 minutes outside the city, many are located in the Palmerie area.

Here we list our all time favorite hotels, all are on a five star level but very different in character. They all feature very nice restaurants as well so regardless of where you stay these hotels and riads are well worth a visit just for the food and ambiance.

Palais Lamrani

Palais Riad Lamrani is located in a 19th century palace in the best district in the medina (just around the corner from where we live). For 5 years it has been carefully restored by a French/Moroccan family and it opened for business in the fall of 2014. It is the perfect riad with a big and lush garden, excellent decor and a few large and luxurious suites and a nicce pool. A lot of original details and beautiful interiors. This is our riad favorite, a true haven and real palace with a heritage.

La Mamounia

La Mamounia is ranked as one of the best hotels in the world. This is where Winston Churchill painted and smoked his cigarrs. It is ultra exclusive and top end. Very expensive and very good. In our opinion it is a bit impersonal but it is an icon with very nice suites and many fine restaurants. The spa is world class. If you look for a luxury hotel located in the medina, with history and top end service this is the place for you.

El Fenn

El Fenn is a trendy boutique riad with a lot of modern art that attracts a fashionable crowd. It has been the place to stay for many years now and is owned by Vanessa Branson. It is a very nice riad if you want a more modern decor. Very nice rooms and suites, some with their own terraces and pools.

 La Sultana

La Sultana is a top end hotel/riad with a few large suites in a great location. The ambiance and spa are great and the restaurants amazing. La Sultana has a palatial atmosphere and is a superb choice if you want a posh and private palace-like hotel.

Maison MK

Maison MK is also a very nice classical riad with a 600 years heritage but a modern take on design and decor. The riad features very nice and large rooms/suites. It lacks the garden that Palais Lamrami has but otherwise a very nice place to stay with a top end fine dining restaurants. Best view in town from the beautiful roof terrace.

The Taj

Taj Sahara Palace , the Taj opened up some years ago outside the medina and was successfully featured in the Sex & the City 2 movie.This is a super luxury hotel with amazing interiors and beautiful suites. If you stay outside the medina we opt for this palace! Beautiful views of the Atlas mountains from most suites.

Peacock Pavilions

Peacock Pavilions is located in an olive grove outside of town. It is operated by interior design guru Maryam Montague and a very "nomad cool" place to stay with amazing interiors and a personal service. They regularly host different yoga and art retreats. A stylish B&B with a twist. And yes, the peacocks room free in the garden.

Erg Chigaga, Desert Luxury Camp 

Erg Chigaga, Sahara desert luxury camp, the ultimate experience is perhaps to be found a day trip from Marrakech. In the Sahara desert you find this luxury camp site, where you stay in large tents with double beds, bathrooms and a berber decor. You can gaze at the stars, enjoy great food and experience the unique Sahara desert in a five star setting. Many companies offer "luxury Sahara camps", this is the best one! Go and be amazed! 

The riads and hotels above are all five star and top international standard. If you want to go for something smaller and more basic (3-4 star) but still very charming and genuine we recommend Riad Dar Zaman or Riad Saba:

Riad Dar Zaman
Riad Dar Zaman is a traditional riad, small but very charming and tasteful. It is a genuine and well maintained little riad and the owner can arrange good excursions and day trips. There is a small plunge pool and great food/service. African decor and a very nice roof terrace.

Riad Saba
Riad Saba is a beautiful classical riad with great location and personal service. The riad is under swedish management and the owner also runs a first class tour operating company, M Travel. Here you find all elements of a riad, beautiful decor, nice food and friendly staff.

Both Riad Saba and Riad Dar Zaman are excellent options if you want to experience riad living and get the Marrakech feeling without paying a fortune. Great value for money. Say "hi" from Per & Patrick when you make your reservations and you will get extra nice rooms.

These are our favorite places to stay that we can strongly recommend but there are hundreds of other optionsCome and find your own favorite little palace! Riad-living is the best! 

Now we are going to relax in our very own riad, in our own lush patio garden by our own indigo blue pool. Its good to stay in fabolous hotels but its great to have your own place.

All the best from the Red City,
PS, our home, Riad Arabe, was successfully rented out as a full service riad when we were not in town for the first 1,5 years we owned this place. Soon we fell so much in love with the riad so we stopped the B&B business. Perhaps in the future it will be possible to rent Riad Arabe again, but for now it remains 100% our private home in the medina. is still active if you want to check it out.