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Marrakesh Hotels

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
AnaYela
Medina
Marrakesh
Morocco
Tel: 212 524 386969
anayela.com

Everything at the five-room AnaYela, in the northern part of Marrakech's Old City—from the rose petal-filmed plunge pool to the abundance of filigreed chandeliers that send spangles of light dancing off the walls—speaks of romance. The riad, located in a 300-year-old palace that sits behind an unmarked wooden door, is thrillingly elusive, reached by a ten-minute walk through a series of twisty alleyways (a staff member will escort you from one of the main squares). Inside, the original structure has been left mostly intact, and the restrained creamy palette means the few occasional bursts of color—the terra cotta of the exposed brick, the ruby-toned etched-glass windowpanes, and the dozens of silver objects that decorate both the rooms and common areas—shine all the more brightly. There are few concessions to modernity: Rooms have A/C but no locks, phones, or TV. Without these distractions, it's easy to wile away an entire day on the plush roof deck, polishing off another plate of almondy pastries brought by the sweet (if occasionally absent-minded) staff.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Angsana Riads
Marrakesh
Morocco
Tel: 212 24 438 517
www.angsana.com/en/marrakech/index.html

Angsana, the Singapore-based sister brand of Banyan Tree hotels, has made a major foray into Morocco with the launch of a terrific family of riads. Run by impeccably trained young hotel professionals (many Moroccan riads have been opened by newcomers to the hotel business), this group of six properties, all located in the medina, have wonderful spa menus that blend indigenous hammam culture with first-rate Thai, Ayurvedic, and Javanese massages. Among the six riads, three are standouts: The seven-room Riad Si Said is a beautifully restored aristocratic residence with a stunning courtyard of antique zelig (mosaics) and a plunge pool. Riad Bab Firdaus, also with seven rooms, houses a small but superb spa; and the intimate five-room Riad Tiwaline was renovated by noted local architect Nesereddine Njima, who has coined a hip new idiom for contemporary Moroccan architecture; all rooms here also have wood-burning fireplaces. Riad Bab Firdaus serves delicious traditional Moroccan dishes as well as excellent Thai and international food.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Dar JL
Arset Sdiguia, Talaint
Annakhil Nord, Circuit de la Palmeraie
Marrakesh
Morocco 12419
Tel: 212 6121 0549
www.darjl.com

Tucked away in the Palmeraie district, this private estate, whose Swedish owners recently opened it to the public, is a literal oasis. The 12-acre grounds include an organic garden, a tennis court, two lap pools, orange and olive groves, a jogging track, a yoga studio, and four residential structures, each outfitted with numerous lounging areas. Every guest room has found its inspiration in a different Asian or African country—the Mali room, for example, is furnished with rich mud cloths, cut-brass lamps, gleaming raw-silk curtains, and wooden masks. Collectively, they're proof that a Moroccan hotel can feel integrated without relying on an overabundance of, say, tiles (though there is lovely tilework here). Overseeing the polished staff of 30 is the efficient manager, Salma Bennani, who leaves guests a take-home bag of full-sized bottles of the property's citrus-scented bath amenities.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Jnane Tamsna
Douar Abiad
La Palmeraie
Marrakesh
Morocco 40000
Tel: 212 24 32 94 23
reservations@jnanetamsna.com
www.jnanetamsna.com

In the early 1990s, visionary Senegalese interior designer Meryanne Loum-Martin introduced the boutique-hotel concept to Marrakesh with a pair of posh villas that put the city on A-list travelers' maps. This, her second property, which opened in 2001 in La Palmeraie, more than lives up to her design reputation and its name (jnane means "garden" in Arabic). The 24 guest rooms are divided among five buildings, have lavish baths, and exhibit Loum-Martin's innovative fusion of Moroccan, African, Middle Eastern, and Indian furnishings and fabrics; most have fireplaces. There are activities on offer—tennis, frequent cooking classes, photography workshops, yoga retreats—but the point is to chill out in grand style, lounging by one of the five swimming pools or padding through the garden. Most of the produce used to prepare the earthy North African/Mediterranean cuisine is organically grown on the nine-acre property, which is landscaped with date palms, lavender fields, olive and citrus groves, and fragrant herb and rose beds. (Loum-Martin's husband Gary is a well-known ethnobotanist.) Breakfast and soft drinks are included in the room rate, but note that there is only a set menu for dinner. Don't expect heel-clicking service, either; the place is informal in the extreme (some rooms don't have locks on the doors, for instance), but that doesn't keep the fashion and film celebrities who flock here from enjoying the louche luxury. Note: If you can't swing $425 per night for a standard double, consider the $70 half-day package that includes a quickie cooking lesson, lunch, and pool privileges.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Kasbah Tamadot
Asni
Morocco 42150
Tel: 800 225 4255 (toll-free)
enquiries@virginlimitededition.com
www.kasbahtamadot.virgin.com

This is Sir Richard Branson's Moroccan retreat—as every other sign on the property will remind you—and it's every bit the North African fantasia you'd build if you too were a globetrotting billionaire. The setting is unbeatable: 16 acres of manicured gardens on the slope of a wadi (dry riverbed) that snakes through the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, an hour-long drive south of Marrakesh. Branson expanded the original 1940s kasbah extensively, and the result is a jumble of courtyards, reflecting pools, stairways, and salons, all decorated in traditional Berber and Marrakeshi style with touches of India and sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 18 rooms, our favorites are Nos. 11 and 12—at almost 500 square feet and with large terraces, they're bigger than average, separate from the main building but still close to the infinity pool, and have a private tiled terrace planted with fruit trees and bougainvillea. There's an excellent restaurant, and plenty of activities (tennis, spa, gym, camel petting). We suggest a morning hike—or at least a mule ride—up the neighboring ridge: It's worth the effort for the view of the valley and a peek at a traditional Berber village (ask for the amiable young Mohammed as your guide). While a night here will set you back, at minimum, $475, we recommend it as an indulgent add-on after a few days in dusty, busy Marrakesh, or for the adventure-minded, as a launching point for mountain biking, horse trekking, or even a two-day assault on Mount Toubkal, North Africa's highest peak. But if your idea of adventure is ordering a second bottle of rosé by the pool, you need not look further.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ksar Char-Bagh
La Palmeraie
Marrakesh
Morocco 40000
Tel: 212 24 32 92 44
info@ksarcharbagh.com
www.ksarcharbagh.com

Extravagant and extravagantly expensive (suites start at just under $1,000), Ksar Char-Bagh lies beyond the Medina walls in La Palmeraie, a vast oasis ten minutes' drive from town where luxury hotels are currently springing up like palm trees. The main court is an outrageous take on Granada's Moorish palace, the Alhambra, while the extensive gardens laced with flowing water are designed along more Persian lines. The black tadlakt pool surrounded by a lush green lawn and the sexy red-marble hammam are both stunners. Middle Eastern and local treasures (Syrian chairs inlaid with camel bone, sculpted stone Turkish fireplaces) decorate the 12 sumptuous guest rooms—the smallest of which is 750 square feet. Each includes a living room as well as a private garden or terrace. Antoine Gonzalez presides over the restaurant and turns out French cuisine that some consider among the best in town. It's all quite beautiful and popular with the French upper class and haute bourgeoisie, but we've heard reports of haughty and often lackluster service, especially toward guests who do not speak French. You may wish to look elsewhere if vous ne parlez pas français.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
La Mamounia
Avenue Bab Jdid
Marrakesh
Morocco 40040
Tel: 212 524 388 600
informations@mamounia.com
mamounia.com

Three years in the remaking, Marrakesh's most famous hotel, La Mamounia, which dates back to 1923, reopened in September 2009. The challenge of this lavish makeover, led by French decorator du jour Jacques Garcia, was to bring the hotel into the 21st century while preserving the soul of what many view as a national treasure. To pull it off, Garcia employed hundreds of Moroccan craftsmen who worked around the clock cutting tiny tiles, sculpting arches, hand-painting doors and ceilings, and relandscaping the hotel's 20 acres of spectacular gardens. Beyond the main hotel building—which now encompasses 207 guest rooms decorated in Garcia's signature rich colors and fabrics as well as a mix of Moroccan and Art Deco antiques—the designer oversaw the construction of a trio of freestanding, three-bedroom riads with private pools. Also built under Garcia's supervision is a four-story Alhambra-inspired structure that houses a Moroccan restaurant complete with private salons and a top-floor bar. Among the dining options, the reborn hotel has Michelin two-star chef Jean-Pierre Vigato (of Apicius in Paris) looking after the French restaurant and another two-star name, Alfonso Iaccarino (of Don Alfonso 1890 on the Amalfi Coast), in charge of the Italian dining room. The hotel's main pool has been enlarged to lake-size proportions, and the new spa, one of the city's largest, includes an indoor pool, three hammams, and six outdoor massage cabins. While there have been complaints—for example, the food is overpriced and, despite those fancy chefs, can be underwhelming—it's still early days in this legend's comeback. Under the capable watch of general manager Didier Picquot, the kinks will no doubt be worked out. The simple truth is that Garcia has done a masterful job, and one of the world's greatest hotels is now unquestionably ready to reclaim that status.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Murano Oriental Resort
Douar Abiad
La Palmeraie
Marrakesh
Morocco
Tel: 212 24 32 86 66
www.epoquehotels.com/h.php/marrakech-hotels/boutique-hotel/h/muranoorientalresort/l/en/

The opening of the Murano has given the Palmeraie, a sleepy resort area a few miles north of the city's spirited medina, an injection of European chic. It shares design elements with its sister property in Paris—the restaurant's claret wool-upholstered chairs, the bar's plasma screens showing abstract animation—but incorporates the warmth of the Maghreb. Four riads, each with a plunge pool, house 37 suites with smooth tadlekt walls and domed fireplaces. The desert hues throughout the resort are offset by splashes of habanero red—on lounge-chair cushions, lobby lamp shades, pool tiles. Relaxed by day, the Murano Oriental morphs into a pulsing nighttime hot spot, one where drinks on the lobby's long white leather couches precede dinner, followed by a nightcap in the bar, where local DJs and an urban ambience re-create a night in the Marais.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Riad El Fenn
2 Derb Moulay Abdallah Ben Hessaien
Bab El Ksour
Medina
Marrakesh
Morocco 44000
Tel: 212 24 44 12 10
riadelfenn@menara.ma
www.riadelfenn.com

Owned by Vanessa Branson (sister of Sir Richard), El Fenn encompasses three interconnected Medina palaces, houses 18 rooms (some of which top 1,000 square feet), and is tended by 48 staff members—making it one of the largest riads in Marrakesh. But it's not just size that matters and this mega-riad pulls out all the stops in the decor department too. Traditional Moroccan design is whimsically updated in the guest rooms with brash touches such as leather floors, floating staircases, and prints and paintings by big-time modern artists, including Bridget Reilly, Terry Frost, and Fiona Rae. (Ms. Branson is also a noted London gallery owner and art collector, and her connections there make this a popular escape for the Brit media mafia.) If you can spare $400 per night (breakfast and afternoon tea are inclusive), book Suite 19: A glass-bottomed plunge pool on this duplex's private terrace forms the ceiling of the salon below. Public spaces conform to the over-the-top philosophy too—an "installation" of 20 pairs of Moroccan slippers greets guests in the entry foyer, beyond which are tropical courtyards laid with Carrera marble, two heated outdoor pools, a screening room, a marble hammam, more modern art, and even a terrace-top putting green.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Riad Farnatchi
Derb el Farnatchi Rue Souk el Fassis
Medina
Marrakech
Morocco
Tel: 212 44 384 912
enquiries@riadfarnatchi.com
www.riadfarnatchi.com

Riad Farnatchi's five beautifully decorated rooms never let you forget you're in Morocco, with tadlekt walls, Berber carpets, hand-forged lamps, and handsomely hand-tiled bedside tables; bathrooms are equally stunning, with marble tubs, yellow granite sinks, and Philippe Stark fixtures. Although rooms are swish, what really makes this place sing are the public spaces, including two courtyards—one with a lap pool, the other with a hamman—and a lushly planted rooftop with views over Marrakech.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Riad Hayati
27 Derb Bouderba
Riad Zitoun Jedid
Medina
Marrakesh
Morocco 44000
Tel: 44 777 043 1194 (U.K.)
info@riadhayati.com
www.riadhayati.com

Opened in 2005, this beautifully restored 18th-century residence, near the Bahia Palace, was a labor of love for its Anglo-American owner, Ron Ciccone. Ciccone has spent decades traveling in the Middle East while working as a foreign correspondent for Turner Broadcasting (CNN) and filled Hayati with treasures he picked up along the way. A priceless Damascene marble fountain is the centerpiece of the lushly planted courtyard, and antique kilims, paintings, and tapestries from Syria, Persia, and Ottoman Turkey adorn the riad's three guest rooms. The rooms all also have exotic tadlakt bathrooms with plunge pool–size tubs, and two have fireplaces. But the most luxurious accommodation here is the Palm Suite annex—a mini-palazzo carved out of two adjacent houses, with a private courtyard, roof terrace, and plunge pool. The brother-and-sister team of Abdel and Mina Hak ensures that everything runs flawlessly and Mina also happens to be one of the best cooks in Marrakesh (she was previously the chef for Marrakesh interior decorator Jacqueline Foissac). Aperitifs as well as Mina's breakfast (omelets, home-baked croissants, soft Berber crepes with honey) are included in the room rate. Many guests eschew the Marrakesh restaurant scene for her superb salads, tajines, and French desserts ($30 per person) at dinnertime too. Since the property is small and has many repeat guests (often London professionals and paparazzi-evading celebrities), it's best to book two months in advance.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Riad Magi
79 Derb Moulay Abdelkader
Derb Dabachi
Medina
Marrakesh
Morocco 40008
Tel: 212 24 42 66 88
Tel: 44 208 834 4747 (U.K.)
www.riad-magi.com

If you're watching your dirhams, this unpretentious and friendly six-bedroom riad, in a quiet neighborhood a five-minute walk from the Place Jemaa El Fna, is a fine choice. British owner Maggie Perry opened her establishment in 2001 and has since become something of a local celebrity through her involvement in the community. Her connections to all the right Marrakesh circles means she can open the doors (to the dazzling and famously difficult to reserve Dar Yacout restaurant, for example) that let her clients experience the city as an insider. Heading her capable Moroccan team is Abderrazak, who has worked here since the riad opened in 2001 and speaks excellent English. The rooms are standard-issue tadlakt,in colors ranging from Yves Klein–blue to mint green; all have en suite bathrooms with big soaking tubs. As with most riads, lunches and dinners must be booked ahead and are an additional charge, although a bountiful breakfast served on the pretty terrace is included in the low rate. Recently, Magi has become known for its weekend and weeklong cooking courses that teach the basics of Moroccan cuisine. Like everything else here, the course is delightfully low-key and a great deal of fun. Note that credit cards are not accepted.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Riad Meriem
97 Derb El Cadi
Azbezt
Medina
Marrakech
Morocco 44000
Tel: 212 5 24 38 77 31
contact@riadmeriem.com
www.riadmeriem.com

A pet project of New York designer, art collector, and world traveler Thomas Hays, Meriem is a tasteful little riad sporting glistening tadlakt walls—in mostly muted aubergine and pale beige—and dramatic speckled lighting cast by fixtures from King Mohammed VI's lantern maker. It's especially popular with Americans, many of whom take advantage of Hays's local contacts to do some serious shopping for art and antiques. Each of the five guest rooms has a different theme—the Ivory Room is starkly minimalist while chandeliers light the Star Suite, for example. Despite its relatively small size, verandas, alcoves, salons, and a vast roof terrace make the place seem larger. In the center of it all, the handsome courtyard shelters a plunge pool shaded by pomegranate bushes, olive trees, and a three-story-tall bougainvillea. Dinner (we recommend chef Najet's vegetarian couscous) can be served at a number of romantic spots on the property, including in front of the Chimney lounge's open fireplace or under a private tent on the roof; breakfast is included in the room rate. Since Meriem is located in the labyrinthine Medina, you're likely to need help finding the place (especially at night). But the friendly staff—notably Anglo-Iranian manager Cyrus and Moroccan majordomo Hassan—will make sure you find your way home, and provide a local cell phone for the duration of your stay…just in case.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Riad Noir d'Ivoire
31 Derb J'did
Bab Doukkala
Medina
Marrakesh
Morocco 44000
Tel: 212 24 38 09 75
contact@noir-d-ivoire.com
www.noir-d-ivoire.com

You know you're in for a unique experience when a handsome young man dressed in black and Couscous, the house donkey, meet you in the Noir d'Ivoire's parking area (next to the Bab Doukkala Mosque) to transport your baggage through the Medina's narrow paths. This striking property is done with wit and style by British co-owner and decorator Jill Fechtmann: A large wooden camel sculpture, for example, stands in the Chameau Suite. Each of the four rooms has a canopied bed, palm frond–and–camel leather Mauritanian rugs, Indian and Syrian chairs and chests—plus all the usual electronics: Wi-Fi, satellite plasma TV, and DVD players. The equally stylish public rooms fan off a courtyard where a giant wrought-iron chandelier lights a keyhole-shaped pool. It's been big a hit with French and British high rollers since opening in late 2006, so to keep up with demand, Noir d'Ivoire has opened an annex next door with three additional super-suites. At more than 1,000 square feet each, there's room for separate studies, dressing rooms, verandas, and private roof terraces with whirlpool baths and daybeds. The real knockout here, however, is the second courtyard, where one wall is a 21-foot-high waterfall. A 36-foot-long lap pool, a well-equipped fitness center, a cigar smoking room, and a wine cellar complete the picture. Happily, for guests staying in the original, more humble wing, the flashy new courtyard is accessible to them.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Riad Privilege
22 Fhal Zefriti
Quartier Ksour
Medina
Marrakesh
Morocco
Tel: 212 24 38 73 18
riadlotus.com

After weaving down a narrow alley in the medina, guests enter Riad Privilege through an unmarked doorway and encounter a sun-filled courtyard worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest. The aesthetic is Milanese instead of the Moorish sensibility of Riad el Fenn and Riad Farnatchi, two nearby competitors. The courtyard's tableau blends white arched walls, a checked-marble floor, lemon and orange trees, a pool flanked by two mirrored obelisks, and plump white couches. Of the five guest rooms, the two courtyard suites offer the most grandeur: 15-foot-high wood-beam ceilings, a mammoth walk-in closet, a wall-mounted retractable screen (which works erratically) for watching DVDs, and a spacious fireplace fronted by Chesterfield-style chairs. What makes the experience most memorable is the affable staff, who won't hesitate to prepare breakfast for you at 4 a.m. if that's your desire.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Riyad El Cadi
87 Derb Moulay Abdelkader
Medina
Marrakesh
Morocco 44000
Tel: 212 24 37 86 55
info@riyadelcadi.com
www.riyadelcadi.com

A ten-minute walk from the Medina's central square, Riyad El Cadi is made up of seven traditional houses. Its 12 supremely comfortable rooms are spread out over five interconnected patios and are individually decorated with a mix of Berber textiles, early Anatolian kilims, Ottoman embroideries, Chinese furniture, modern paintings, and Moroccan pottery. Note that rooms on the ground floor do not have AC. Various salons, corridors, and landings also serve as gallery spaces for the fine collection of both Islamic and international art and artifacts collected by the late owner during his travels as a German ambassador. His daughters now run the riad and, despite the trappings of antiquity, the overall feel is uncluttered and contemporary. Roof terraces shaded by tents offer views of the distant mountains, and you can cool off with a dip in the little pool or relax after a scrub and a massage in the hammam.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Royal Mansour
Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti I
Medina
Marrakesh
Morocco 40000
Tel: 212 529 80 80 80
experience@royalmansour.com
www.royalmansour.com

So grand is Royal Mansour, tucked in a verdant eight-acre compound in Marrakech's bustling medina, that it could have only been created by kingly ambitions—which it was. Sparing no expense, King Mohammed VI employed 1,200 master craftsmen for three years, and the result is a swoon-worthy showpiece of Moroccan decorative art, starting with the 2.5-ton etched bronze doors that open upon your arrival. Then there's the entrance courtyard's intricate mosaic of zellige tilework, the hand-carved marble moucharabieh screen behind the reception desk... and that's before you enter your room—or rather rooms. Each of the 53 individual three-story riads comprises a mini courtyard (with a canopy that automatically unfurls if rain is detected); a sumptuously appointed living room; an equally dazzling bedroom with silk-covered walls, hand-painted arched doorways, and generous MarocMaroc bath amenities; and a private rooftop terrace with a fireplace and heated plunge pool. You and all this space are tended to by a gracious staff, in particular a genie-like butler who appears silently through the riad's kitchen service entry (staff travel unseen via an underground tunnel system). Although Djemaa el Fna square is within walking distance, there's much to keep you ensconced in this city sanctuary, including indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a magnificent spa, and two superb restaurants, La Grande Table Marocaine and La Grande Table Française (both overseen by chef Yannick Alléno from Paris's Le Meurice), as well as the indoor-outdoor La Table, which serves a formally presented breakfast and lunch by white-gloved staff.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.