A Moroccan hotel with a slick, glamorous edge
Hotel Insider: Delano Marrakech
A beaming bellman in traditional dress rushes out to take my luggage, then a welcome drink of peach and pineapple juice arrives as I admire the circular lobby with white pillars and chairs upholstered in purple velvet with tassels. Designed by Jacques Garcia, Delano Marrakech opened in September and is part of Morgans Hotel Group, which includes well-known beacons of style such as the Sanderson in London and Mondrian in Los Angeles. Fans expecting the "wow factor" here may be disappointed - this 71-room boutique property is avowedly Moroccan with glamorous flourishes - rich, red walls, lifts with golden doors, abundant geometric patterns and a sumptuous ambience.
Ten minutes from the airport, Delano Marrakech enjoys a prime corner location in the upmarket streets of Hivernage, a tree-lined hotel zone beside the west wall of the medina. Louis Vuitton is to the left and La Perla to the right but there are donkeys and carts passing by. It's an easy, 15-minute walk through the gardens bordering Koutoubia mosque to the city's famous square, Place Jemaa El Fna, and the dense souqs beyond.
Set on three floors, the best rooms are on the east side and look across a garden to the medina walls. More than a third are suites but most guests will be content with a basic double room, generously sized with dark woods, purple rugs and an opulent, silk-draped alcove beside a Juliet balcony with floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Low-lit with king-size beds and a marble bath, they are a welcome place to retreat after the expeditions of the day. Nice touches include white towelling slippers with pointed toes, reminiscent of the babouche on sale in the souqs, and a complimentary notebook with tasselled page-marker.
Polite, friendly and on the ball. A dud light bulb and an uncooperative coffee machine were replaced immediately, and meals and drinks arrived promptly with a smile.
Take your pick from four restaurants offering French, Italian, Japanese and international dining. Namazake, serving sushi and tempura on the roof terrace, is the most inviting it is a pity that breakfast (which was unexceptional) is not served here but in Galerie, an all-purpose space beside the lobby. Dinner at Pomiroeu, a lofty red-and-gold room with views of the street, was subdued with patchy service and dishes that included a lacklustre seafood spaghetti (220 Moroccan dirhams; Dh94) and a salty osso buco (230 Moroccan dirhams; Dh98).
Delano Marrakech may lack the delightful gardens that are a star attraction of rival hotels, but it does have a 28-metre heated pool on the ground floor and a second one shaped like a ring on the top deck, Sky Lounge. The customary mix of daybeds and chilled beats is enlivened by 360° views of the city, gardens and the Atlas Mountains spread out like crumpled white paper. If the weather is poor, there's a third pool and a hammam in the subterranean Pearl Spa, a complex of regal treatment rooms with mosaic-tiled walls and slabs of grey marble. Both venues are open to non-residents.
The romantic tone of the bedrooms with their plush fabrics, subdued lighting and blissful beds.
The art. Corridors and bedrooms are adorned with specially commissioned work by local calligrapher Noureddine Daifallah that left me decidedly unmoved.
This is a good base if you are here on business. Leisure travellers may find it more rewarding to stay in a jewel-box riad inside the medina, or at one of the more spacious garden resorts in the Palmerie.
The bottom line
Double rooms costs from 2,500 Moroccan dirhams (Dh1,055) per night, including breakfast and Wi-Fi. Delano Marrakech, Avenue Echouhada, Hivernage, Marrakech 40000, Morocco (www.delanomarrakech.com; 00 212 524 424242).