Photo courtesy of Marrakech Riad
Riad StarAfter making her name in Paris in the 1920s, American-born singer and actress Josephine Baker became a French citizen and, like many artists and intellectuals of the era, traveled often to Morocco, which was then a French protectorate. In the early 1940s, she stayed at a royal guest house at the invitation of the Pashah of Marrakech—a riad that, today, has been restored and re-launched in her honor as a boutique hotel named “Star.” Though just a 15-minute walk from Jemaa el-Fnaa square, the riad is hidden away in a more residential—and car-free—part of the walled old town, adding to the feeling that you’re staying in a private home.
Britain-based owners Lucie and Mike Wood, who also own three other riad hotels in town, spent over two years restoring the property to reflect a mix of traditional Moroccan craftsmanship and the Art Deco style of Baker’s heyday. Along with hand-carved plaster, beautiful lamps, and original cedar woodwork, the hotel features Baker-related memorabilia and books as well as period items sourced from auctions. Past the ground-floor plunge pool and dining area (scene of the abundant daily breakfast) are 13 individually decorated rooms and suites. The Josephine has an oversized tub, the Jazz features carved cedar doors and a fireplace, and the Chiquita sits next to the lovely rooftop terrace, where guests can enjoy views of the Atlas Mountains from their lounge chairs. Also on-site is a small hammam with a steam area and massage room, as well as a cooking school, launched in 2017. When you want to get out and explore, the hotel will provide you with a free local cell phone and GPS-enabled app to help navigate the city.