Trip Planner: Marrakech
By Lee Brian Schrager
The indoor pool at La Mamounia
|La Mamounia Spa|
Situated adjacent to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech offers an enchanting blend of French and North African traditions.
Palacial Check In
Stay at La Mamounia (Avenue Bab Jdid), one of the most beloved hotels in North Africa. It’s emerged from a $150 million, three-year renovation under the guidance of French designer Jacques Garcia, with haute-Moroccan guest rooms (think carved wood, chiseled stone and mosaic tiles), two gyms and a subterranean spa.
Stroll the palm-lined avenues of Gueliz, the city’s more modern French section, and duck in for breakfast at Patisserie des Princes (32 Rue de Bab Agnaou). This renowned spot offers an enormous, freshly made selection of Moroccan cookies and pastries early each morning. Not to be missed are the mini bisteeya—flaky pies filled with chicken, onion, lemon, eggs, almonds, cinnamon and sugar.
Tour the small and exquisite Majorelle Garden (Avenue Yacoub el Mansour, El Hassania), which sits adjacent to the Yves Saint Laurent Villa, a home of the late designer. Wander the sprawling souks (traditional Moroccan marketplaces) and watch the local craftsmen, including carpet-dyers and blacksmiths.
The smell of jasmine emanating from La Mamounia Spa is so intoxicating, you’re likely to find yourself lured in after a long day of sightseeing. Try the hammam treatment, which includes 15 minutes in the steam room, a fullbody lather in black soap, an exfoliating rubdown and a Moroccan clay body mask.
Don’t miss the Royal Mansour (Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti), which King Mohammed VI built just inside the medina wall, sparing no detail or expense to create an over-the-top mix of Art Deco and traditional Moroccan designs. Famed Parisian chef Yannick Alléno runs the resort’s La Grande Table Française, which showcases fine French gourmet cuisine in a stunning dining room overlooking the Andalusian Gardens.
Settle into a banquette for an après-dinner cocktail at Comptoir Darna, famous for updated Moroccan fare, sexy service staff and late-night belly dancing.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANSON SMART (LA MAMOUNIA SPA)