Luxe Lavs: Visiting the Red City of Marrakech
Marrakech is known as the Red City because its famous and inviting walls are made of a distinct orange-red clay and chalk. This month, Luxe Lavs contributor Angela Fairhurst headed to Morocco and the Red City of Marrakech to visit four luxury hotel bathrooms.
The Mandarin Oriental Marrakech is one of the newest resorts on the scene. Located just outside the medina (the old city), the 54 single-story villas, 9 suites, 3 restaurants, and spa are elegantly built on 2 hectares (that’s just under 5 acres) of fragrant gardens and olive groves. The signature villas are either 3,000- or 4,500-square-feet and are designed as mini riads around enclosed courtyards, each with an infinity pool and hot tub in black zellij. Using Mandarin Oriental’s signature palette of cream and dark mahogany throughout, the large elegant marble bathrooms have massive double sinks, a lounging area, a makeup area, and a large walk-in closet. I loved the option of the luxurious soaking tubs and showers, both big enough for two. The specially developed fragrant products are a locally made paraben-free brand called Nectarome.
La Mamounia is a legendary property among the five-star hotels in Morocco. It faces the Atlas Mountains and is at the heart of the old city of Marrakech. Originally built in 1923, the hotel was extensively and meticulously restored by the internationally acclaimed interior designer Jacques Garcia. Reopened in 2009 with 136 guest rooms, 71 suites, and 3 Riads (a traditional Moroccan house, built around an interior garden), the environment Garcia created within the Moorish architecture is one of peace and tranquility, modernizing it with theatrical touches, light, and color. The marble bathrooms have inlaid tiles on the floors and walls with dark wood touches. The bathroom amenities are custom made for La Mamounia using a signature scent, which is an aroma of citrus elements and woody Atlas cedar. French perfumer Olivia Giacobetti created the hotel’s unique fragrance, which was inspired by the extensive gardens of La Mamounia.
Inside the ancient city’s walls (and walking distance from Jemaa el-Fnaa), the chaotic marketplace in Marrakech’s main square, is the Royal Mansour. The property of traditional Moorish Andalusian architecture is spread across eight acres of land. Away from the hubbub, the entrance is down a long private road that welcomes you with a massive intricately carved arched gate. The hotel has 53 Riads that are connected by pathways bordered by a warren of private gardens, shrubs, and flowers rather than hallways. The staff is never seen accessing the rooms—instead they use underground tunnels. Each Riad is individually decorated; consequently, the bathrooms have their own unique mosaic tiled walls and colorful marble floors, eclectic bathtubs, and handcrafted sinks. All Riads have a retractable glass roof and a private roof terrace with its own plunge pool.
Also in the medina beside the Bab El Ksour gate is El Fenn, the brainchild of Vanessa Branson, the sister of Sir Richard Branson. In 2002, along with her business partner Howell James, she transformed an ancient crumbling palace into a unique boutique hotel with seven traditional courtyards in a labyrinth-type environment. Maintaining the majesty of the building itself, and working with local craftsmen, the hotel’s general manager and El Fenn’s designer Willem Smit remodeled the building in 2002 and reopened two years later. The colorful hotel blends ancient Moorish style with contemporary and retro twists. The rooms and bathrooms have different color schemes. The green room was my favorite. Using pure pigments from the medina, El Fenn mixed its own colors for the tadelakt floor, walls, and deep marble bath. No synthetic materials were used, and only hand-made objects were incorporated. Even the toiletries are decanted into locally made Moroccan glass and metal dispensers.
For more interesting hotels you can visit around the world, check out:
- Over-the-Top Hotel Suites in Major Asian Cities
- Can’t-Miss Glamping Sites With Noteworthy Amenities
- Unique Bathrooms at Private Island Resorts
By Angela Fairhurst for PeterGreenberg.com