Morocco's glittering bohemian city is brighter than ever – with a flash-pack of fabulous places to stay. The city is known for its riads – a traditional property set around a central courtyard – as well as its grand-dame hotels made from marble. There are a cluster of big-name players scattered across Marrakech – The Oberoi, Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental among them – as well as smaller, independently owned hangouts offering a fresh take on this frenetic metropolis. From palaces owned by the royal family to pretty riads that host local creatives for months at a time, these are our favourite hotels in Marrakech – in no particular order.
Nobu Hotel Marrakech
With a name as reputable as Nobu on the door, good service and an even better restaurant offering are practically scribed into the brickwork. Marrakech is the brand's first foray into Africa, and its interiors remain respectful of the location, capturing a different kind of aesthetic that sets it apart from its Mediterranean cousins. The location is one to celebrate. From here, you can walk to the medina and the souks, or arrange drivers to take you further afield via the concierge, who suggests tours to the Atlas mountains, desert picnics and cultural experiences like camel rides. The rooftop is as beautiful as the 360-degree views it offers, and watching the sun cast ombre shades of pink and orange across the sky before it sinks behind the horizon is best accompanied by a signature cocktail or a serving of mint tea – poured from an elaborate silver-tone pot, of course. Every bedroom is a suite bedecked in mahogany wood and rich furnishings. Sarah Leigh Bannerman
Maison Brummell Majorelle
Despite being home to the colour-popping Jardin Majorelle, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and Villa Oasis, the designer’s former residence, the Majorelle neighbourhood has never quite had a worthy place to stay – until now. Pitching up near Rue Yves Saint Laurent, close to the smart Gueliz quarter, Maison Brummell Majorelle is a welcome addition. From the outside, the dusty-pink modernist cube reflects the hues of the medina. Inside, it’s a sculptural masterpiece of clean, sloping lines, neutral tones and smooth surfaces. A follow-up to the tropical-modern Hotel Brummell in Barcelona’s Poble Sec neighbourhood, it took Austrian hotelier Christian Schallert three years to build this peaceful refuge, with its tadelakt spiral staircase and shapely, sinuous curves. Simple ceramic pots and paper lanterns are placed just so, with the crescent-shaped windows casting sculptural shadows. Each of the eight bedrooms is spacious, in shades of walnut, concrete and brushed brass; some have little balconies, day beds and views overlooking the speckled- grey terrazzo pool or, if you squint, the Jardin Majorelle. The sleek, ultra-contemporary hammam and steam room feel miles away from any sort of medina chaos, as does the ink-blue living room with its crisp architectural fireplace. Chloe Sachdev
Belgian ceramist, textile artist and all-round creator Laurence Leenaert has already been a key player in redefining a new Marrakech aesthetic with her Lrnce brand. Now she, alongside her husband Ayoub Boualam, has etched, chiselled and hand-painted this five-bedroom riad into a brain-ticklingly artistic guesthouse. She has treated the former home, located inside one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the medina – Riad Zitoun Jdid, near the Jewish quarter – like one of her squiggly canvases, but with terrazzo throughout and plentiful use of traditional craftsmanship. In the pocket-sized hammam, an octopus mural from chiselled zellige is pressed into the wall, and streaks of rainbow slice through abstract stained-glass windows. The artist’s touches are everywhere, from signature scribbles carved into sandstone tables to tiny hand-painted bathroom tiles, each a miniature artwork, and wavy terrazzo tiles in the centre courtyard. On every smooth tadelakt surface is a piece of colourful art – plates, vases, candle holders – by Leenaert herself or her brand. Flooded with light, the riad wraps around a giant jacaranda tree, all the way up to the tangerine rooftop, where mosaics of fruit bowls and wonky smiley faces are embedded into tables and walls, and wrought-iron dining chairs have been twisted and shaped like suns and moons. The dining room and salon will become spaces for intimate talks and workshops – emphasising the sense that Rosemary will be its own embassy of creativity. Chloe Sachdev
Spread across seven interconnecting riads in the less decorous part of the old medina, this newcomer is an intriguing proposition. Owned by tech-focused London investment firm Neon Adventures, which also bought the home of the late American socialite- designer Bill Willis a few doors down, the riad is inspired by Willis and a certain classic Marrakech aesthetic, but is also a space for forward-looking digital art. It’s a labyrinth of little corridors and creaky, carved chestnut doors. One opens to a moody tea room with black glossy tiles and a red velvet sofa; across a courtyard is the black-and-white Bill’s Bar, which echoes Willis’s iconic design for Rick’s Café in Casablanca. There’s a cute coffee shop with jewel-tone emerald zellige tiles and bits of brushed gold. Up a narrow set of colourful stone stairs is a walnut-clad library, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, rolling ladders and worn-in leather chairs. Perhaps Izza’s biggest USP is its £5 million art collection, including prints of Sebastião Salgado’s Amazonia NFT series and screens showing works such as Turkish-American artist Refik Anadol’s machine-learnt shifting sands. The futurism contrasts with framed letters from Yves Saint Laurent and the fact that the 14 rooms are named after expatriate bon vivants of yesteryear: Cecil, Jack, Talitha and so on. One has a modern cubed staircase and kitchenette; others are narrow, with wall-to-wall beds mixed with vintage furniture and Moroccan wood carvings. Some of the courtyards have little plunge pools, and there’s a beautiful rooftop that feels like a secret garden refuge, with day beds and an excellent locavore restaurant. Chloe Sachdev
In a secluded olive grove on the Route de Fes outside the city, Farasha Farmhouse has the feel of a private clubhouse or art gallery in nature – the sort of thing you might expect to find in Marfa or Joshua Tree. Envisaged by French-Northern Irish husband-and-wife event stylists Fred and Rosena Charmoy, and designed by hot-right-now architects Aire au Carré (who recently spruced up El Fenn), every detail feels well-chosen. The main building is a minimal tadelakt space, with giant woolly installations by Moroccan artist Amine El Gotaibi, local shaggy carpets, mid-century Italian sofas and coffee-table books from Marrakech’s storied Vreeland estate. Of the three suites in the main building, it’s worth asking for one on the second floor, with views of the Atlas and Jbilet mountains. Come sunrise, colourful hot-air balloons join the silhouette of the peaks in the acid-yellow sky. Outside, a traditional adobe has been reimagined into a fully equipped casita, where traditional clay contrasts with pops of mustard and oxblood zellige tiles. There’s an organic farm, from which most of the meals are plucked, and new-agey events such as hypnotherapy concerts. But the pièce de résistance is the 50-metre pool, with sunbeds between olive trees, for languid days drifting into evenings of hibiscus sundowners and cosmic chats. Chloe Sachdev
This is where Charlie Chaplin and Churchill chose to hole up, and Hitchcock filmed The Man Who Knew Too Much. Reinvigorated by designer Jacques Garcia, it had a spectacular reopening in 2009. Retreat from the hubbub to the huge gardens, with their beekeepers, lemon trees, secret ice-cream parlour and the loveliest pool with a palm tree in the middle. The Sunday poolside brunch – tagines, grilled fish, pizza flatbreads – is excellent for hungry children, as is eating in Le Marocain to the sounds of a traditional oud (a bit like a lute). For a riad-style stay, there are three houses on the grounds, but the rooms with views out to the Koutoubia Mosque and over the rooftops of the Red City are the ones that give you the best sense of place. Pick up neon earthenware jugs, Berber-style rugs and baskets at New York designer Martin Raffone’s MaisonLAB in Guéliz.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveller.