Returning To Marrakech’s Luxury Resorts


One of the hottest global holiday destinations, Marrakech’s boutique hotel retreats are luring five-star travellers in search of holiday karma. Laura Henderson reports

Peppered with Kasbahs and bustling bazaars, most visitors to the ochre-hued city of Marrakech rarely venture beyond the hustle and bustle of the Medina, let alone savour the Zen-like tranquillity of the suburbs or explore the lush green Ourika Valley in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. But aspirations and expectations are changing fast, thanks to the growing portfolio of exclusive retreats offering visitors an authentic oasis experience just a heartbeat away from the city’s attractions.

Anyone who’s been back to Marrakech after a several year absence might have difficulty recognising the place. The most noticeable change has to be the proliferation of five-star hotel and luxury boutique spa accommodation now available – a growth spurt linked to the government’s Vision 2020 tourism agenda which aims to double visitor numbers in six years to 20m. For visitors, it presents an embarrassment of ‘where to stay’ riches with difficult decisions on which option to pick. Abode2 have cherry-picked two wickedly indulgent choices:


Les Deux Tours

Ensconced in three hectares of Andalusian-inspired gardens amidst the verdant groves of Marrakech’s Palmeraie, Les Deux Tours comes with a ‘serenity guaranteed’ preservation order. Originally built in 1991 as a small Arabesque village, the homestead and park were turned into a unique hotel in 2008 by the internationally acclaimed French architect Charles Boccara who also designed the Tichka Hotel and the Marrakech Opera House. Still owned by his family today, the designer-owner partnership has worked an eclectic architectural design palette to impressive effect: Middle Eastern and Moorish themes offset by Andalusian and Persian accents, best exampled by the delightful arcades and domes and open-sky courtyards.

The gardens are a feast for the senses – giant Royal palms, citrus orchards, fig trees and olive groves, while the soothing sound of water cocoons individual living spaces; the rippling fountain entrance way setting the tranquil tone through to the network of water features and cascades, culminating in the palm flanked cobalt piscine which dominates the central courtyard.

Hammocks, four poster beds under the trees, any number of terraces lead off the main building all with with cream calico covered sofa and chairs, swings hanging from trees, a lovely pergola-shaded outdoor dining terrace, a kitchen garden with tables and chairs in shaded spots with loungers and rattan chairs under parasols.

Room décor follows a similarly muted, minimalist theme to display the handsome inlaid décor to best effect, whether it’s a tartari ceiling, bejmat tiles, a stone fireplace, or restored antique Moroccan furnishing. White linen sheets and embroidered throws adorn the beds, en-suite dressing rooms sport hand-carved clothes rails and shelving, while the bathrooms are positively iridescent with their bespoke finishings and satin tadelakt walls. Every suite has a patio area or terrace, so if trundling to the pool for a dip sounds too much like hard work, you can relax in the privacy of your very own garden.

Executive Chef Hamza Afquir is known for cooking the best lamb tagine in Marrakech. At Les Deux Tours’ Le Salammbô, he takes pleasure in using the garden's vegetables and herbs in his Moroccan- and French-inspired cooking. The restaurant is a decadent space with pink marble walls and a huge, chandelier-hung vaulted ceiling. The hotel also has a relaxed open-air eatery by the pool serving a seasonal barbecue buffet and a light healthy lunch menu. www.les-deux-tours.com

Intimate, oh so quiet and about as far removed from the kaleidoscope of colours, sights, fragrances and bustle that envelops you in the Medina, the peeling away of life’s stressful layers begins as soon as you venture beyond Tigmiza’s imposing entrance gates. Nestled in the greenery of the Palmeraie, this luscious 5-star retreat rises out of the palm groves like a Kasbah; its hide-out collection of suites, chalets and villas offering guests a cocooned retreat with a generous sprinkling of laid-back luxe.

The property is very much a family affair. A five-year development and renovation project undertaken by parents and offspring has coaxed this enchanting property back to life with a brand new personality. Design accents mesh several influences; from the decadent black and gold baroque ambiance of Diversity, reminiscent of a Raj palace to the more modern Green Art Deco suite; each room has been custom decorated with objets d’art from the four corners of the world.

Exquisite tiled courtyards lead to a serene pool area, where chaises longues are shaded by palm trees. Each corner of the estate has been crafted with style to evoke a sense of place; flowered patios with fountains, leading to galleries with chiselled plaster archways, hand-woven Berber carpets, camel-bone mirrors, filigree iron work and fine wood used to make the intricate carved furniture and the iridescent colours of the decoration are so harmonious that they create an elegant setting in a refined, calm atmosphere. The English Bar has been created with pieces of the original La Mamounia Bar where Churchill was a frequent drinker, salvaged when the famous hotel underwent a facelift in 2009.

The Spa dazzles in a mint hue and offers guests the obligatory Moroccan Hammam experience, with the added pamper draw of a state of-the-art beauty, massage and fitness centre.

And then there are the dining options: the Moroccan Room, the Pool Bar, the Dining Room, The Maasai and The Terrace. Foodies are in for a treat with a refined medley of local and Mediterranean cuisine. Breakfast is a healthy, yet spoiled-for-choice affair from the fresh-baked flatbreads, sweetmeats and home-made yoghurt to the melt-in-the-mouth omelettes filled with fresh peppers and succulent tomatoes.

For bon viveurs with a moreish appetite, a traditional Moroccan tasting menu can be sampled at Lallati - each delectable course presented with a suitably apposite glass of wine. Better still meals can be enjoyed wherever you like, lunch around the pool or a candlelit dinner under the stars in one of the secluded courtyards.

Ultimately however, what guests are likely to remember is Tigmiza’s cocoon-like atmosphere - whether you’re soaking up the full bloom scents from the garden, admiring the High Atlas snow caps and palm grove from the Sky Bar or sipping a cup of freshly infused mint tea in your kaftan; few places in the world come close for bespoke serenity. www.hotel-tigmiza-marrakech.co.uk


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