Royal Mansour Marrakech
Isaac Ichou, courtesy of Royal Mansour Marrakech
Commissioned in 2006 by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, Royal Mansour is like a medina within the city’s Medina. Fifty-three private riads, each three stories high, feel like mini-palaces, with open-air courtyards and on-call butlers. Every detail is an homage to Moroccan craftsmanship, down to the gorgeous zellige ceramic tiles, intricately carved woods, and molded plasterwork created by local artisans.
Fine Dining in Surrounds Fit for a King
Morocco isn’t really recognized as a fine dining destination, so if you come for that reason, you’re likely to be disappointed, with one notable exception: The food at the Royal Mansour, while expensive—tasting menus at either La Grande Table Marocain or La Grande Table Français start at $165—is nothing less than sensational. Both are headed by multi-starred Yannick Alléno, who made his name in Paris at Le Meurice, earning his first Michelin star in 1999. Both of his Parisian restaurants now have three Michelin stars each, which gives you the idea that if you’re going to splurge, it makes absolute sense to do it here. If your wallet says no, a more affordable option is to fashion your own gourmet lunch poolside at Le Jardin (also under Alléno’s direction), where echoes of the flagship restaurants reverberate through dishes such as garden vegetables in a hay crust, squid braised in parsley and cumin, and caramelized quinces with yogurt sorbet and hazelnuts. This will set you back around $55.
Sleep Like Moroccan Royalty at Royal Mansour Hotel
You leave Royal Mansour Marrakech with an entirely new appreciation for craftsmanship. Local artisans are responsible for the gorgeous zellige ceramic tiles, intricate carved wood, and molded plasterwork found throughout the eight acre property. Commissioned by King Mohammed VI of Morocco, Royal Mansour was designed to feel like a medina within the city’s own medina. The 53 private riads, each three stories high, feel like mini-palaces, with on-call butlers and rooms arranged around open-air courtyards. Despite the lavish interiors, I couldn’t pull myself off the private roof terrace, which came with a plunge pool, fireplace, and dining area beneath a Bedouin tent. The price tag is outrageous, but you are truly treated like royalty.
A Royal Drinking Spot in Marrakesh
Some regents construct palaces; Morocco’s tourism-minded King Mohammed VI built this opulent hotel. It’s a short walk outside the souks, not that many people get there by foot: the clientele here is the sort that opts for chauffeured vehicles, preferably very expensive ones. The 53 riads, serviced by butlers who travel using a network of hidden passageways, are paragons of privacy and exclusivity, and the cost reflects it. However, look presentable and you’re welcome to pop by the public areas for mint tea or, if you’re feeling tony, a glass or two of fine Armagnac. (Take it up to the cigar bar, where you can play on hand-carved chessboards inlaid with mother-of-pearl.) You never know who might turn up. When I was there, I eavesdropped—no joke—on Hilary Clinton’s advance team making arrangements for her stay.