The beloved King Mohammed VI of Morocco has showcased to the world the most exquisite representation of Moroccan art and culture in his creation of a palace, within the walls of the old medina in Marrakech. A palace, that is handmade and crafted by more than 1200 artisans over the course of 4 years; bringing together the richness of Marrakech, Fez, Meknes and Essaouira. The Royal Mansour is a palatial hotel that you don’t just visit and marvel at, but one where you feel and are in fact a guest of the King.
The experience starts as it means to go on. On arriving at Marrakech airport, my husband and I were greeted by a representative of The Royal Mansour on the runway and taken straight to a VIP room. Whilst we sipped on Moroccan mint tea, our passports were handled and luggage taken care of. Within minutes we were on our way to a fantasy world – one that could have only been created on an unlimited budget.
Beyond the large bronze doors, the reception – a large open courtyard welcomes you with the aroma of jasmine and orange blossom. This symmetrical masterpiece is a central feature of the hotel, a quiet space where guests sit in one of the four areas as they enjoy traditional music in the evening or simply indulge in the calm and serenity of the courtyard by day. The courtyard is a true celebration of ancestral interior design that has been passed down through generations. A walk around the courtyard is like a walk within a museum, only here you are walking on elaborate zellij mosaics, brushing past miles of silk, sitting on beautiful sofas lined with mother of pearl, and glancing at suspended brass lamps.
The Royal Mansour is modelled on a traditional medina. Winding alleys lined with century old olive groves and palm trees lead you to one of the 53 3-storey riads. The entrance of our riad is a beautiful small courtyard inspired by North African, Spanish and Portugese design. Spanish yellow and pastel greens married with classic shapes and water features.
On the ground floor is a rather formal living room, with a fireplace and adjoining terrace. On the wooden desk I notice elegant writing paper with my name embossed in gold. Up dark and narrow steps is our bedroom, tastefully decorated with carved wooden wardrobes, cedar wood ceilings and the most impressive white lattice headboard.
The mood is old romance – dark, heavy silks, velvets and bronze as the backdrop for intricate carvings and craftsmanship. The bathroom is verging more on disappointing than understated, though pretty pastel bags featuring essentials you don’t even realise you need is always a pleasant surprise. Up another flight of stairs is a wonderful terrace featuring a plunge pool, sun beds and a dining table where you can enjoy room service.
Ah room service! Now this is a feature The Royal Mansour has mastered. Beneath this jaw-dropping medina, is a parallel underground city, where all the hard work happens. This goes unseen and is purposely discreet. From this underground world the staff can access each floor of your riad through a private elevator, without you even noticing.
In a hotel designed and inspired by a King, it is not only the design and architecture that dazzles. Food and gastronomy plays an equal part in the experience at The Royal Mansour. Breakfast is a delightful experience, one that feels quite French provincial.
Soft fresh pastels are the theme – from the white and soft pink roses in small bottles to the gorgeous crockery. For vegetarians the choice is extensive from an a la carte menu – fresh breads and croissants, beautifully cut fruits, steaming hot porridge, Moroccan pancakes and your choice of eggs. I was hoping for a larger selection of fruits, thought it is all about quality and not quantity here.
My husband and I had the pleasure of dining at The Grande Table Marocaine. Yannick Alleno, Parisienne Michellin starred chef has kept true to the rich ingredients of traditional Moroccan cuisine and the culture of sharing, whilst introducing a refreshing contemporary twist. Spinach is presented with orange foam, beetroot in a firm jelly and the traditional slices of orange with cinnamon dish is presented in small orange pearls that quickly burst in your mouth and ooze with juices of orange blossom. Dining on low-seated tables by candlelight whilst being served by waiters who adorn regal outfits that could feature in a period wedding makes for a unique experience.
The Royal Mansour has created plenty of spaces to enjoy a pre or après dinner drinks. Each room has its own identity. Depending on your mood you can enjoy live jazz in the sophisticated Chimney Lounge that overlooks the Andalucian gardens, or enjoy a great selection of cocktails at Le Bar, which is within the stunning pink gold leaf walls. My favourite room is the library, a room exuding old world charm; though has a distinct modern feature – a ceiling that can be opened up by the touch of a button. Guests can gaze into the sky and enjoy the splendid view from the central feature of the library – the telescope.
The stand out feature of The Royal Mansour is its breath-taking 27,000 sq ft spa spanning over three floors. I have never seen anything quite like it. The spa is a palace in its own right – a bright, pure white intricate trellised atrium. This is a temple for the mind, body and soul. As you wait for your treatment, enjoy a herbal tea in the finest china, as you lie back under the white drapes on your own ottoman. A spa treatment is an absolute must, if not to indulge in a deeply relaxing massage, then to enjoy the serene and lavish surroundings.
The Royal Mansour is extraordinary in every way possible, a testament to Moroccan design and a masterpiece for the world to enjoy. For more than $1200 per night guests are made to feel truly special as they get transported into a regal world. The mood is formal, elegant and sophisticated. This is a place to impress and to be impressed.