Jnane Tamsna, La Palmeraie, Marrakesh
Tel: 212 24 32 94 23
Concierge.com's insider take:
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 offertennis, frequent cooking classes, photography workshops, yoga retreatsbut 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.