An insider's guide to the top luxury hotels and riads in Marrakech, including the best for courtyard plunge pools, beautiful gardens and Michelin-starred restaurants, in locations near to the medina and the Palmeraie.
Villa des Orangers
Push through the carved wooden door into the citrus-scented garden of Villa des Orangers and you could be forgiven for thinking you had chanced upon a secret royal palace. Water gurgles soothingly off a fountain and olives and palms frame intricately carved plaster archways, which shade-inviting porticos. In the centre, reflecting the sky, is a mirror-like pool lined by immaculate white-cushioned loungers. It could hardly be more perfect or discreet. It’s just outside the medina walls, about five minutes' walk south of the Djemaa el-Fna and very well located for access to the royal palace museums.
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Les Deux Tours
The original bucolic country retreat, designed by Charles Boccara as a rambling Arabo-Andalucian village, has suites set in three hectares of perfumed gardens amid lily ponds, a heated pool and a garden potager where the Michelin-starred chef grows his own ingredients. Situated in the palm groves of the Palmeraie, 15 minutes from the centre of Marrakech, it is a total escape from the madcap mayhem of the medina. For those who want to visit Marrakech, there are three free shuttles into town every day.
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This riad is in a secluded nine-hectare estate in the Palmeraie, the historic palm grove outside Marrakech. Moorish arches frame views of the organic gardens, and shed light on co-owner Meryanne Loum-Martin's extensive contemporary African art collection. The outdoor pools beckon, but guests are often otherwise occupied with cooking classes, literary events, cycling, massages, tennis, yoga and browsing the onsite gallery. Booker Prize winners, star chefs, and other prominent figures regularly offer the courses here to benefit the Diversity Foundation's international educational initiatives.
Read the full review: Jnane Tamsna
Enjoy Moroccan hospitality at its finest in the lavishly restored suites of this historic 200-year-old mansion, owned by one of Marrakech’s most famous antique dealers, Mohammed Bouskri. Restored by teams of Morocco’s most highly skilled craftsmen, the soaring salons, spacious rooms and tranquil patios make no apology for their decorative excess. On top of this artful canvas, Haj Bouskri’s beautiful antiques, Berber rugs, silk sofas and embroidered curtains add depth and personality, creating the feel of a luxurious Marrakshi home. The riad lies inside Bab Doukkala, one of the nine main gates of the medina, midway between the Djemaa el-Fna and Yves St Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle.
Read the full review: Riad Kniza
Staying at Dar Ayniwen is very much like visiting a family friend, such is the convivial atmosphere engendered by your host Stéphane and the intimate proportions of his lovely Arabo-Andalucian home-cum-hotel. Built by his father, an antiques collector, the house is typical of the boho-luxe of 1970s Marrakech. Lounges and salons are family-sized and wonderfully cosy, filled with knik-knaks from around the globe: bronze statuettes, Berber pottery, Persian rugs, inlaid mirrors, Orientalist paintings and even the family silverware. Sitting at the eastern edge of the Palmeraie, Dar Ayniwen is a 20-minute drive from the Djemaa el Fna. A free shuttle operates into town every day up until midnight.
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Taking its cue from ancient Rome, Greece and the Maghreb, Riad Joya’s grand architecture impresses against a desert palette of sand, taupe and beige. The effect is a cocoon of subtle style where luxury whispers at you from every detail of the bespoke furnishings which are fashioned in cedar, bronze, linen, silk and velvet. Suites are arranged around an inner courtyard off which sits a fine dining room and a library. Below stairs a traditional hammam glows in the soft light of fretwork lanterns, while the rooftop bar supplies aperitifs to guests reclining around two dainty plunge pools.
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One of Marrakech’s first boutique riads, the Farnatchi has evolved over the years into a comfortable and stylish retreat. Five houses were remodelled to accommodate 10 suites, two quiet courtyards, a dining room, two living rooms and plenty of nooks and crannies to secret yourself away. The style is a sort of understated baroque – think Delacroix meets Ian Schrager. Close to the Marrakech Museum and the Ben Youssef Medersa, the riad is well positioned for exploring the souks and historical sites.
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Riad Dixneuf La Ksour
With its striking colonnaded patio modelled on the Medersa Ali Ben Youssef, this riad’s soaring architecture accommodates six sumptuous suites, a library, a couple of colonial-style lounges, a rooftop solarium and sleek jade-green pool as the centrepiece. This riad comes with serious design credentials created as it was by Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty, the stylists behind the iconic Café de la Poste. White wicker chairs and chaise longue adorn the fabulous colonnaded patio with its intricately carved columns and cedar wood ceilings. It's extremely well located just steps from the Koutoubia mosque, which you can spy from the roof terrace.
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This independent, medina hotel is inspired by a seductive love poem in which Baudelaire invites his amour to dream of an exotic escape where all is ‘luxe, calme et volupté’. Designer Charles Kaisin has certainly captured the poem’s air of exoticism in the riad’s impressive public rooms and through its quirky design. The design effects continue in the 14 truly enormous suites where feature walls come covered in geometric stucco patterns; cut lanterns cast dancing shadows; and angular Damascene-style furniture is embedded with mother-of-pearl stars and lozenges. It is buried in the un-touristy derbs of the Kasbah and maintains an air of seclusion.
Read the full review: Almaha Marrakech
Riad al Moussika
This exquisitely decorated, six-suite riad was once a former palace of Thami el’Glaoui, Pasha of Marrakech and Lord of the High Atlas. Now its interiors are Art Deco, and it houses one of the medina's most popular restaurants, PepeNero, which enjoys incredible views of the Atlas Mountains. Aside from the usual concierge service and on-site spa, it’s the details that stand out: hot mint tea on your return from the souks, fresh flowers everywhere and gracious Moroccan staff who connect you with the city.
Read the full review: Riad al Moussika