It was midnight on a full moon in Marrakesh. After a late flight from Barcelona and transferring from Casablanca, the driver pulls over on a very busy, unremarkable street, next to a gas station, an LP gas depot and about the world’s most frenetic bus stop and taxi stand, drivers wailing and waving, engines gunning. Everyone looked to be in charge.
The van stopped in the middle of the street and the door swung open. A nondescript wood door lay before me; no sign, no grand entrance, just two guys in muted brown tunics.
“This is it?” I asked. “It’s Marrakesh, there’s always a surprise behind the doors. You will be surprised.” I ducked low beneath the carved wood apse of the doorway and instantly I got it. I was in a long hall lit with lanterns, flame light flicking off the cool walls. Bunches of roses, all pink and orange, were in pots along the walls, in alcoves, arranged on the front desk, their scent hit me like a cool shower. This was it.
I’ve never seen a hotel so beautifully and meticulously decorated, in such an understated and elegant way. Carved colonnades, muted colors, deep, rich tile. Impeccable service. Dozens of outdoor rooms within rooms; a quiet palace inside these great walls. It’s not cheap, but for the money, I can think of no other place I’ve stayed that felt like you were getting every penny of it. It sits within the Medina, so you can walk anywhere, but come back and have your own cool retreat to regenerate with some mint tea.