La Mamounia, Avenue Bab Jdid, Marrakech, 212/(0) 524-388-600. From $755. mamounia.com. This story appeared in the July/August 2011 issue.
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Ravishing and regal, La Mamounia hotel is set in royal gardens, styled with Moorish opulence, and as sensuous as a seraglio. Aware that its guests (Winston Churchill was a fan) expect the best, the legendary den of decadence recruited luxury-lifestyle luminaries including Jacques Garcia and Olivia Giacobetti for its recent refurbishment, and world-class chefs to captain its restaurants.La Mamounia’s immaculate marble and mosaic spa is an opulent setting for a treatment, all ornate ceilings and arched columns. Shiseido products sit alongside the hotel’s signature unguents: black soap, Ghassoul clay, Argan oil, rose water and orange blossom water. Pick from three hammams, nine treatment rooms, six outdoor massage cabins, an indoor pool, and a hair salon headed up by Jean-Michel Faretra.
It's real-life guests have ranged from Winston Churchill to the Rolling Stones, and yes, it would be wonderful to join the list of pampered people who have stayed at this North African palace, but the nightly rates are formidable.
On my solo journey through Marrakech, I discovered a great way to experience the lavish amenities without spending my savings: I sat by pool, ordered a cold glass of white wine, and was provided with three hours of complimentary internet connection. Sitting amid climbing bougainvilleas and listening to the giggles of carefree kids, I touched base with friends and relatives back home.
Some day I intend to wheel my suitcase into La Mamounia and settle in for a good, long stay - but I can at least say I've tasted a bit of what Churchill called, "the most lovely spot in the whole world."
To experience La Mamounia, visit http://bit.ly/1uhioBn