I very much enjoyed reading last week's story on Essaouira. I am travelling to Marrakech early next year - can you suggest any similarly magical places to stay in that city?
Seeking somewhere special in Marrakech
I very much enjoyed reading last week's story on Essaouira ("Riches from the past", November 21). I am travelling to Marrakech early next year - can you suggest any similarly magical places to stay in that city? To enjoy pleasant not extreme temperatures, spring (March to May) and autumn (September and November) are the best times to take a trip to Marrakech, a city that effortlessly conjures Orientalist fantasies, complete with centuries-old souqs. Today's Marrakech is awash with newer money though and following the reopening of the city's most famous hotel, La Mamounia, after a three-year revamp, the place is suddenly abuzz with hotel openings. Most will find it difficult to compete with the original Art Deco-style playground of the rich and famous, however, which has double rooms costing from US$590 (Dh2,167) per night. If you are looking for a treat, book one of the "experience" packages that promises an insight into the city's cuisine, history, and culture. Packages cost from $1,088 (Dh3,996) per night, including tailored spa treatments, some excursions and meals (www.mamounia.com; 00212 524 388 600). One suitably plush alternative is the Mandarin Oriental Jnan Rahma, a 20-minute drive from the city centre in the relative calm of the Palmeraie oasis. A strikingly palatial concoction of Arab-inspired interiors, it has lush gardens and wonderful views over the Atlas Mountains. The hotel promises to have the usual five-star trimmings including an Ottoman-style spa, and the rooms have private terrraces to allow you to enjoy the views. Due to open its doors in the spring, the hotel brand remains tight lipped about its room prices (www.mandarinoriental.com; 00212 524 327 777). Opening in March, the Royal Mansour is a collection of 53 riads laid out over three-and-a-half hectares just inside the Medina itself. Financed by King Mohammed VI, the traditional courtyard houses promise to showcase the finest Moroccan craftsmanship with intricate tiling, carved wooden ceilings and latticed stonework. Guests are set to experience living in an alcazar with a modern twist: comfort and the talents of a three-star Michelin French chef, Yannick Alléno, who is overseeing its restaurants. Each riad is available for individual hire from $2,245 (Dh8,245) per night (www.royalmansour.ma; 00 212 524 378 339). If it's magic that you truly seek, a more established favourite, the Kasbah Tamadot owned by Sir Richard Branson, might be the answer. An hour outside of Marrakech near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains, you will be able to relax after a day's sightseeing in a berber-tented suite with air conditionting, of course. A tented suite costs from $1,422 (Dh5,222) based on two people sharing, including breakfast (www.kasbahtamadot.virgin.com).
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