The ultimate hotel guide to Marrakech for 2022

The city of Marrakech is packed with dazzling riad hotels and some of Africa's grandest resorts.

The Red City of Marrakech.

Photograph by AWL Images
By John O’Ceallaigh
Published 5 Sept 2022, 06:06 BST

Entering Marrakech’s Medina still feels like sinking into a fever dream: a lantern-lit warren of workshops, traders’ stalls and butchers’ nooks. It’s also packed with riad hotels, converted private homes full of hand-laid tiles and antiques. Meanwhile, choice abounds on the outskirts of the city, home to some of the grandest resorts in Africa. Many of Marrakech’s ancient landmarks have been spruced up over lockdown, too, while businesses all over town have revised their offerings. So, visitors both regular and new can expect the same famously gregarious city, with its mix of grit and grandeur, but with a crop of new bars, restaurants and shops to boot.

Royal Mansour.  Rates quoted are for standard doubles, B&B, unless otherwise stated.

The lobby at the Royal Mansour.

Photograph by Royal Mansour

Best for aesthetes

Intoxicatingly rich in aesthetic detail, Royal Mansour is one of the world’s most lavish hotels. Owned by the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, this Moorish-style palace is a showcase for the country’s most dazzling craftsmanship: from the intricately carved cedarwood to the embroidered damask curtains, virtually every decorative detail was created by one of Morocco’s top artisans. The hotel seems to get everything else right. too: the spa is top-tier, and guests occupy standalone, three-storey riads, with rooftop plunge pool. Rates are hefty, but pampering treatments, dining reservations and pool passes are available to day guests (a day pass costs MAD1,250 [£105]), meaning Mansour’s magic remains somewhat accessible. In fact, at £38, afternoon tea here feels a relative steal.

Rooms: From €1,400 (£1,200), including airport transfers and fast-track immigration.

2. Dar Simons

Best for discerning diners

Delicious though tagines are, frequent visitors to Marrakech may find many menus repetitive. There’s no chance of that at Dar Simons, however: the labour of love of Belgian chef Carlo Simons, this petite guest house at the edge of the souks is better understood as a restaurant with rooms. Those diminutive rooms are restrained, tasteful and tranquil, though the real reason to bed down here is to secure a priority reservation in the intimate 12-cover fine-dining restaurant. Incorporating whatever is best that day, the minimalist menu might feature crisp sea bass soaked in honey and saffron, or homemade ice cream streaked with whisky, caramel and butter.

Rooms: From €90 (£77).

Tagine at Amanjena

Tagine served at Amanjena.

Photograph by George Apostolidis

Best for privacy

Opened in 2000, this was the first international five-star hotel to serve the Red City and set the standard for every rarefied resort that followed. The Ed Tuttle-designed property’s vast ponds, colonnaded walkways and immaculate grounds still impress, with a highlight being the Pavilion suite — a classic retreat with a domed roof and sliding cedar doors. Service can be slow, but still, guests seem to be in no hurry, and the small number of rooms and sprawling grounds mean Aman delivers on its promise of absolute privacy.

Rooms: From €822 (£695), including airport transfers.

4. Riad Le J

Best for shopaholics

This boutique riad is so deeply ensconced in the Medina that you might find yourself on an unintentional tour of the surrounding stalls and sellers to find it. And with a background in furniture and interior design, proprietor Antonio is also well-placed to recommend the locality’s best retailers. But set aside time to relax, too: handsome, uncomplicated and with the intimate feel of a family home, the riad’s rooms are crowned with ceilings intricately finished with hand-painted decorations and feature French-style flourishes and antique finds. The team can happily arrange cookery courses and on-site massages.

Rooms: From €85 (£73).

View outside The Oberoi

The view outside The Oberoi.

Photograph by Alan Keohane

Best for next-level service

A decade in the making, The Oberoi made an immediate impact with its momentous scale when it opened in 2019. Its grounds sprawl endlessly, its staggering centrepiece a gleaming, gargantuan courtyard, ornately modelled on the 14th-century Ben Youssef Madrasa. But still it’s the service that’s most memorable: guests here can be heard sharing stories of how the team created truly thoughtful surprises, be it hosting impromptu concerts to installing in-room bespoke artworks. Forthcoming arrivals’ public social media profiles are often mined for inspiration (you might well find your headshot framed and waiting on your dining table) and staff go out of their way to make guests feel happy.

Rooms: From €625 (£528), room only.

6. Riad Yasmine

Best for bargain-hunters

Eight-bedroom Riad Yasmine’s impeccable interior design makes it a favourite with the Instagram set, but it’s even better in real life. Favourite hang-out spots for guests (and cats Bowie and Bebe) include the jade-green courtyard pool, ringed by plump loungers, and the expansive roof terrace, where the view extends to the jagged Atlas Mountains. It’s truly lovely, and accessible pricing means it’s regularly booked in its entirety by friends or families (from €1,300 [£1,099]). On those occasions, the team go all out: musicians might be arranged, or the roof terrace can be transformed into an outdoor yoga studio or a striking setting for a cocktail party.

Rooms: From €130 (£112).

 Le Farnatchi 

The riad garden at Le Farnatchi.

Photograph by jalal bouhsain

Best for traditionalists

Established by Yorkshireman James Wix in the heart of the Medina, this 10-bedroom boutique hideaway is spread across six renovated merchant houses and is exceedingly well-equipped considering its small inventory. There’s an emerald-tiled pool in one courtyard (and citrus trees in the other) and the pretty spa incorporates two marble hammams. The vibe is unpretentious and cosy, and the heaving breakfast spreads are served whenever and wherever you like — don’t miss the freshly pressed nectarine juice, when in season. Service, too, is familial and lovely, and many of the souks’ best stalls and sights are just a few minutes away.

Rooms: From €317 (£268), including airport transfers.

8. Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Best for homebirds

Though there’s a smattering of suites on the upper level of this elegant resort’s main hub, the 54 standalone villas are the big draw. Discreetly embedded in rose-filled gardens, they’re so comprehensively equipped that many guests simply laze in situ all day. Inside, bathrooms feature huge marble tubs and hammam-style showers; the living area is decorated with handwoven Berber rugs and traditional ceramics. From the bedroom’s sliding doors, you can step directly into the plunge pool. The central outdoor area is shaded by apricot trees and has a proper swimming pool as its centrepiece, too.

Rooms: Suites from €1,100 (£945), villas from €1,600 (£1,375).

Extra large room at El Fenn

The opulent bedrooms at El Fenn.

Photograph by Cécile Treal

9. El Fenn

Best for social butterflies

There’s a joyful boisterousness to El Fenn, which comprises a dozen interconnected riads. Enter its innocuous doorway and a labyrinth unspools before you, revealing candlelit courtyards, a bijou, glossy-green spa, and a suntrap atrium garden. Beyond its three pools, the property’s heart is its rooftop bar and Moroccan-international restaurant — mellow by day, buzzing at night (light sleepers should bring ear plugs). There are 31 rooms, with 10 more debuting in another extension that’s set to open in October this year — expect high ceilings and technicolour tones of candy-floss pink and canary yellow. Given the property’s upbeat, social vibe, friends and family often book adjacent rooms to celebrate milestones en masse.

Rooms: From €270 (£230).

10. Berber Lodge

Best for nomads

About half an hour’s drive — and a world away — from central Marrakech, this rural retreat is utterly serene. That might be due to the beautifully unfussy accommodation: the lodge’s nine standalone abodes were made using traditional Berber methods and feature palm-thatched roofs, simple woollen rugs and furniture made of wood and rattan. While rates have risen as the word has spread, the property still draws a relaxed, creative set who settle in for days, interspersing dips in the pool with gentle ambles in the nearby countryside or explorations of the Agafay Desert.

Rooms: From €230 (£200).

Published in the September 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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