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Riad El Fenn, Marrakesh 

See the Marrakesh Guide ›
2 Derb Moulay Abdallah Ben Hessaien
Bab El Ksour
Morocco 44000
Tel: 212 24 44 12 10
view web site ›'s insider take:

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.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
This sublime ten-roomer is a perfect combination of Asian glamour and pedigreed European-style creature comforts. The huge marble or tadlekt bathtubs fill with hot water in under a minute, the assortment of in-room CDs includes both Madonna and Algerian raï singers, the traditional courtyard garden has a marble fountain that trickles into a rose-petal-filled basin, and the second-floor library is stocked with an enviable array of English- and French-language books and magazines. Each room is unique, decorated with exquisite local tiles, handcrafts, and furniture and hung with edgy canvases by contemporary British artists. By year's end, a major expansion will add one of the largest open-air pools in Marrakech, a hammam, and a gym.—2005 Hot List

When to go: Skip scorching July and August in favor of May, June, September, and October.

Which room to book: No. 2 has a soaring ceiling and a dramatic brown-marble bathroom

Amenities: Pool, Spa

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