I have visited Marrakech a few times, but in the five years since my last trip, the transformation has been more significant than I could have imagined. New hotels are popping up every month and the design scene is thriving. The alluring character of this city is still very much there but it feels somehow more accessible as a traveller.
The Mandarin Oriental Marrakech opened a few months ago, it is slightly removed from the main medina in the centre of town – a more relaxed and remote location, which creates an instant sense of calm. With the Atlas mountains in the background, this luxurious hotel is set amongst 20 hectares of fragrant, landscaped gardens.
Like many of the group’s properties, MO Marrakech is monochrome in design, with a straight-forward elegant style. We were greeted on arrival with sparkling rose drinks and warm smiles from all the staff.
The hotel boasts private villas and spectacular suites, each with unparalleled facilities. It is difficult to pull yourself away, but when you do decide to explore the city your butler will arrange everything via a handy whatsapp service. This speedy system also ensures you have all the information you need at your fingertips – restaurant menus, spa availability etc.
After a short ride through the gardens (incredible that anything grows considering the sweltering summer heat) we were introduced to our heavenly villa. The Mandarin Pool Villas are a contemporary take on the traditional Moroccan riads. You enter through a walled courtyard, complete with your own pool, lounge area and outdoor kitchen.
The indoor rooms are instantly calming (and cooling – thanks to superior air conditioning). Fresh fruits adorn the living room table and a giant TV provides entertainment, should you need it. Coffee and tea facilities and a minibar is all here for your needs.
The bedroom is simple and chic with a sumptuous giant bed and various buttons to control the high-tech blind and curtain functions. I was grateful for the room remaining dark even when the sun came up early outside!
The bathroom was a sight to behold, a giant circular bath, spacious double sinks and a shower that doubles up as a steam room. The amenities are by French perfumer Diptyque, one of my favourite brands.
When it was time to (begrudgingly) leave the villa, lazy mornings were spent overlooking the expansive tropical gardens and pools. Breakfast is chosen from a lengthy a la carte menu and an overflowing buffet of sweet treats. I particularly loved the morning entertainment, a musician played a charming traditional instrument as we sipped our coffee.
The hotel has two main restaurants (both only open for dinner), Ling Ling by the Hakkasan group serves modern Cantonese food and Shirvan, by Michelin-starred Chef Akrame Benallal, for delicately spiced sharing plates. During the day guests can opt for an al fresco lunch in the pool garden or in villa dining.
We enjoyed local wine and flavoursome grilled meats at Shirvan on our final evening at the hotel. The staff were so attentive and ensured we had absolutely everything we needed.
The spa at MO Marrakech is already garnering quite the reputation due to its impressive size and variety of spa treatments. I visited for a restorative facial using the brand Biologique recherche. After a thorough cleanse and extractions my skin was pampered with the nourishing products and I left feeling incredibly relaxed.
Despite being a hotel primarily for adults, little guests are very much celebrated at the hotel and the staff genuinely seemed to adore my two little boys. The kids club and farm occupied and thrilled the boys and at meal times the kitchen made special dishes to satisfy their appetites.
Just three hours from London by plane, Marrakech really is a very appealing destination for sunshine and culture. With hotels like MO Marrakech making visitors feel so at home, I can see why people would return again and again to this city.
I was a guest of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. More information and to book a stay here.