BOUTIQUE HOTELS AND LUXURY RIADS IN MARRAKECH
When it’s cold in England, Marrakech is an obvious, easy sunshine fix with plenty of boutique hotels to choose from. You don’t have to travel too far, you’ll find fabulous shops in the souks and there are plenty of gorgeous boutique and luxury hotels and riads; we have some of the best riads in Marrakech to choose from - whatever your budget, including one of the best luxury riads in Marrakech, Villa des Orangers.
Some of the best riads in Marrakech
Within the Marrakech medina, Lulu has hand-picked her favourite and some of the best riads in Marrakech, plus she has found a selection of Marrakech boutique hotels away from the crowds in the Palmeraie. For a new luxury riad in Marrakech try Riad Jaaneman, which opened in May 2014 this 5 suite luxury riad is in one of the most sought after locations in the medina. You don’t get much more central than Riad Abracadabra, a luxury riad 2 minutes walk from the main Jemaa El Fna Square. Like many luxury riads in Marrakech, it looks unassuming from the outside, but as soon as you enter you’ll be blown away by the 8 suites (each named after a magical character), rooftop terrace and pool. You also don’t need to worry about getting up early for breakfast - it’s served until 1pm. A more contemporary luxury riad in Marrakech is Riad Joya, hidden away in the souks it is one of the best riads in Marrakech and is super stylish with a romantic restaurant that serves Moroccan and authentic Italian food. Lulu's latest addition to her collection of luxury riads in Marrakech is Riad Hikaya a new boutique hotel in the Marrakech medina with just 7 rooms, restaurant and spa.
Another great example of our luxury hotels in Marrakech is Villa Dinari in the Palmeraie, just 15 minutes from the medina. It has 8 stunning suites and is the perfect boutique hotel for those looking for luxury and excellent service with the atmosphere of a private home. Surrounded by more than two acres of landscaped gardens Villa Dinari is the perfect tonic after a day out in the souks of the Medina.
2014 has seen a fantastic selection of new luxury riad openings in the medina of Marrakech and Chic Retreats are delighted to showcase some of the very best of these boutique hotel openings including Dar Housnia where guests can either book one of the 4 junior suites or rent out the charming 2 bedroom 'douiria' which is conntected to the main riad. Riad Mena is a charming luxury riad that opened its doors in September 2014 and features an 8m outdoor pool, hammam and mouth-watering food. Riad AnaYela is a new luxury riad with an enchanting true story behind it and a Chic Retreat that will appeal to the romantics who appreciate great style. For new boutique hotel openings in the Palmeraie look no further than Dar Nanka a French inspired Chic Retreat with swimming pool, spa, personal trainer and tennis court, the perfect all-rounder. Trend-setters should head to Hotel Les 5 Djellabas a beautiful boutique hotel consisting of 10 eco-lodges owned by Frederic Velissariou, who also owns world famous restaurant, Foundouk.
Not many luxury riads in Marrakech have a restaurant like Riad Joya, but when you do venture out to eat, you certainly won’t go hungry; Marrakech is packed with excellent restaurants and there’s something for everyone, whether you fancy international cuisine or traditional Moroccan dishes. In the Medina, Dar Yacout is as renowned for its bold interior design as much as its food, while Le Tobsil, set in an old house with a courtyard, has musicians playing to entertain diners with a Moroccan version of blues.
Lively Le Comptoir also offers the whole entertainment package: every night after a Franco-Moroccan dinner in an Art Deco villa,belly dancers twist and wind themselves around the tables. For something more casual or a quick bite, you should also try eating at one of the makeshift restaurants which set up every night in Jemaa El Fna Square. Each stall is numbered and touts hard for business but No. 14, where you can eat Moroccan style fish and chips sitting on a bench, is one of the best.
During the day, the square has a completely different feel and is filled with snake charmers, stalls selling freshly squeezed orange juice, henna artists and men with performing monkeys. Its home to one of the most recognised landmarks of the city, the Koutoubia Mosque (the city has over 500 mosques) which has four copper globes on its minaret. The square is also the dividing line between the narrow, winding streets of the souks to the north and the imperial quarter of palaces in the south.
The souks are one of the main reasons for a visit to Marrakech and as long as you’re prepared to haggle hard for whatever you want to buy and get lost several times (many of the tiniest streets aren’t even on a map), it’s a really fun shopping experience. The souks are divided into different areas by trade so for example, there’s a lantern alley, a whole street of tan leather goods, a dyer’s market, an iron-work section and carpets. Of course, certain items, such as the distinctive patterned Moroccan ceramic tableware, babouches (slippers) and pashminas, crop up again and again.
The Sights of Marrakech
When you tire of shopping, sights worth seeing include the ruins of the El Badi Palace. The original building, which was commissioned by the Saadian Sulktan Ahmad al-Mansur in 1578, was thought to have 360 rooms but today all that’s left are the sunken areas that were the gardens and central pool. Once a year, it comes to life when it becomes an atmospheric venue for part of the annual International Film Festival. There’s also the Ben Youssef Medersa, a Quranic school founded in the 14th-century which was devoted to teaching Islamic scripture. It has a beautifully tiled courtyard and 100 tiny, windowless rooms which were used as students’ quarters until the 1960s.
No visit to Marrakech is complete without seeing the stunning Majorelle Gardens, known for its glorious cobalt buildings and huge plant pots, on the edge of the New City. Famously created by French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1930s to house a villa and his workshop, it was opened up to the public in 1947. Money struggles meant that Majorelle was forced to sell parts of the land during his lifetime. In 1980, it was saved from becoming a hotel development when Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge bought it. The pair lived in the villa and restored the garden, transforming Majorelle’s studio into a museum (YSL’s ashes are scattered in the rose garden of the villa). It’s loveliest towards the end of the day when there are less visitors and you can sit and relax on a bench in the afternoon sun.
If you fancy a bite to eat while you’re in the New City (Guelize), La Bagatelle is a French institution with a terrace and a nice atmosphere, while at Le Chat qui Rit (meaning ‘the cat which laughs’) there’s a great Mediterranean menu. For Italian food, tryNiagara for tasty pizzas, pasta and huge salads or Catanzaro, which is one of the most popular spots in town. Book ahead or you’ll have to wait in line.
If you are staying in Marrakech for more than a couple of days, the city also makes the ideal starting point for a trip to the Atlas Mountains. It’s only an hour and a half’s drive from the city to the Ourika Valley and from there you can walk with a guide to the waterfall in Setti Fatma. Travel a bit further (a 3 hour drive from Marrakech) and you can visit the charming small town ofEssaouira where the windy coastline makes it a good surfing spot or Cascade d’Ouzoud, an impressive waterfall near the village of Tanaghmeilt just outside the High Atlas National Park.