With much of Marrakech’s finest accommodation in the form of tucked-away riads and out-of-the-centre resorts, finding the perfect pillow can be tricky – but Culture Trip’s shortlist of Marrakech hotel favourites won’t disappoint.
You have one major decision to make when booking Marrakech accommodation: medina or not medina. Being within the old city walls is to be in Marrakech as you might have pictured it from afar. Dotted about this intense urban hive you’ll find many of the city’s riads, oases of peace, often tucked down dark alleyways behind nondescript doors. While riads can be high-end, for perfect five-star tranquility you should head out of the medina into the flat expanses separating the city from the Atlas Mountains. Mid-range hotels (as opposed to riads, which can be very affordable) are surprisingly few. Below, we round up the top picks across a range of Marrakech accommodation price points.
Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel
Courtesy of Amanjena Marrakech
Famously, staff at Aman hotels seem to have the knack for knowing what you want before you realise you want it – and that happy state of affairs holds at their Marrakech property, which sits out in glorious isolation a 10- to 15-minute drive southeast of the medina. Amanjena represents the most tasteful, understated form of five-star luxe imaginable (if it’s good enough for David Beckham’s 40th-birthday celebrations…). Set out expansively by architect Ed Tuttle to evoke a sultan’s palace, the sense of architectural harmony is almost giddying. You don’t walk around this hotel: you float or tiptoe from the vast centrepiece bassin (a mirror-like irrigation pool) to restaurants (there are two, the elevated Moroccan and the Japanese Nama) to your stunningly designed and appointed accommodation. Choose a once-in-a-lifetime maison (house) or one of the 32 pavilions. Even when Amanjena is full, it feels majestically empty.
The phrase ‘boutique hotel’ might have been conjured up for converted riads: former homes cloistering you utterly from the brow-beating heat and hustle beyond its walls. The sense of balance at Riad Mena is exquisite – even the modestly sized eight-metre pool makes you think anything larger would simply be ostentatious. The riad has six suites decorated according to the irreproachable taste of owner Philomena Schurer Merckoll and featuring huge tadelakt (waterproof plaster) bathrooms. Riad design – rooms organised around a central garden-courtyard – invites an inward focus, so it’s good that every last detail here is just-so, from the beautifully curated lounge-library to the food: in-house dada (cook) Fattima does things with couscous you wouldn’t think possible, while her homemade msemen (flatbread), granola and delicious, punchy coffee power you up for a day’s exploration of the souks (markets), which lie just a 10-minute walk west of the riad.
Check in at the five-star Marrakech Fairmont – set in a former olive grove a 25-minute drive southwest of the medina – and you’ll be whisked to the hotel’s lounge bar, which sets the tone for the whole experience of staying here. It’s a spectacular setting: picture sensuously tactile surfaces in metal, marble and stone; rich, warmly hued textiles; and low lighting emanating from all manner of sources, from retro tripod floor lamps to pendulous ceiling fixtures. The attention to detail extends into the accommodation, with all 134 rooms, suites and villas oozing comfort and affording views of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. The spa includes an eight-cabinhammam, while the meandering 2,000-square-metre (21,527-square-foot) outdoor pool snakes impressively from one end of the property to the other.
One of the beautiful things about visiting Marrakech is how close the city sits to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. A 45-minute drive south of the city (or 30 minutes from the Marrakech airport), Kasbah Angour is a gorgeous introduction to rural Morocco, with its hilltop kasbah (citadel) silhouette rising like a crown in the scrubby desert landscape near the village of Tahanaout. A sense of stately peace and quiet abides within the hotel, which was purpose-built in 2011 by Brit Paul Foulsham. The 25 bedrooms and suites nestle alongside 10 acres of lush tended garden, featuring all manner of fruit trees, from peach to pomegranate. Take a guided walk into the nearby Toubkal National Park and stroll through local Berber villages, then cool off in Kasbah Angour’s fine swimming pool before enjoying a meal of (very) local produce and Moroccan recipes.
Where would the most flamboyant sultan of the 16th-century Saadian dynasty stay were he to time travel into modern Marrakech? In this hotel that bears his nickname, of course. Even Ahmad al-Mansur might be dazzled upon arrival, with the public spaces big on visual impact, all marble, mirrors, mashrabiya (lattice-covered windows) and (invariably gilded) metal in seductive arrangements. Things calm down a bit in the bedrooms, with a relatively muted (but oh-so-comfortable and fully mod-conned) vibe. Bear in mind that Superior rooms have balconies. The restaurant dining rooms are enormous and, depending on your mood, may feel like a banqueting hall or a mess hall; more atmospheric by far is the rooftop cocktail bar. Located in Hivernage, the hotel gives equally easy access to Guéliz (the newer part of Marrakech’s new town, a 15- to 20-minute walk) and the medina (a half-hour walk).
There’s something filmic about the story of La Maison Arabe, with the property owned and overseen by a kindly Italian count and occupying what was formerly the (very grand) home of two elderly French women who opened Marrakech’s first fine-dining restaurant here in the mid-20th century. The food on offer today maintains those high standards, as does the on-site cookery school. The 26 rooms – half of which are suites – are spread across a jigsaw of riads and evoke discreet, peaceful, old-school luxury with warmly lit antiques, crafts, tilework and intricate cedar woodwork at every turn. With the souks a mere 15-minute walk away and the new town less than 30 minutes, La Maison Arabe enjoys a best-of-both-worlds location. There is a sister resort in the Palmeraie, served by a complimentary shuttle service; hotel guests are invited to use the resort’s facilities.