The Selman, Marrakech – The pinnacle of indulgent escapism


The pinnacle of indulgent escapism in the heart of Marrakech – one visit to Selman just isn’t enough, as Laura Henderson discovers

Secreted away in verdant landscaped grounds at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, the terracotta-hued beauty that is Selman has a hybrid personality.

Swathed in luxury from the Chenot spa, sumtpuous bedrooms with French designer flair, palm-tree-flanked Olympic-size swimming pool and custom stables with purebred Arabian horses; this magnanimous retreat nevertheless manages to exude a home-from-home intimacy that few hotels of this calibre manage to achieve.

Owned and run by the Moroccan family, Bennani-Smires, the hotel’s gracious layout is the work of celebrated French architect and designer Jacques Garcia. Meshing an eclectic mix of oriental and Moroccan styles, the spacious rooms and lofty public spaces feature studded furniture and suede covered walls which sit, somehow perfectly, with lavishly embroidered textiles and millions of handcrafted zellige mosaic tiles. The 56 rooms, suites and villas display Garcia's dramatic tastes to perfection. Ornate, black-and-white patterns are everywhere, on floors, pillars and walls; and the addition of black lacquer gives old Moroccan style a sultry feel that will appeal to younger guests.

Although there are hints of the Orient in the green-tiled roofs, elsewhere a Gallic influence is pervasive, with haute cuisine delights in the restaurant and a spa offering treatments created by wellbeing guru Henri Chenot. One feels completely cocooned, while benefiting from the vast fragrant terraces and magnificent views across the gardens, the pool and the Atlas Mountains, punctuated by the glorious sight of horses galloping near the Andalusian Pavilion.


Romantic residences are a forte, the spacious Riads especially peaceful, set away from the hotel, and playing up the sense of Oriental sensuality. Each entrance leads to a central fountain and patio which opens onto a living room enclosed by embroidered curtains. Hung with fabrics, the lounge is a voluptuously hedonistic setting. Ranging in size from 580 square metres to 700 square metres, each has a private garden and a pool bordered by bougainvillea. Intimate and luxurious, they invite travellers to indulge in their Riad experience, a stay that is further enhanced by the 24-hour services of a personal butler

For ardent foodies - The Selman Restaurant sets the scene for fine-dining with exotic culinary flair. A cavernous, charcoal-grey, Caliph-charming banquet hall with garden views and plenty of pageantry, with heavy purple drapes, gold fringing, chandeliers and plump padded banquettes, the dining room’s ornate fireplace, velveteen and gilt seating match the equally sophisticated menu, with pastillas and tagines alongside lobster and fillet steak; vegetables are grown on site in the kitchen garden. The Pavilion Restaurant serves lighter Mediterranean fare in a Mousharabi-screen-shaded area of the garden. An appetite-defeating breakfast spread has scrambled eggs, meats, cheeses, pastries, breads, fruit, juices, smoothies and tea and coffee, served in the main restaurant or the Pavilion restaurant in warmer weather.

Guests in the mood for a spot of pampering are spoiled for choice; be it sun bathing on canopied beds with a glass of bubbles by the main pool, or taking a dip in the cloistered plunge pool in the Chenot Spa – a 1,200 square metre space complete with hammam, gym and an expansive range of treatments from hydro-therapy to healing herbal rituals; all under the exclusive Chenot brand. A tour of the stables, is a must. Guests can even watch the equestrian acrobatics of the majestic Arabian horses during brunch. Heaven on Earth really does exist.


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