Glass explores The Royal Mansour – the luxury resort in the heart of Marrakesh

MARRAKECH, the crazy bustle of its medina and its magical architecture has always captivated my interest, so when the opportunity arose to visit the city and stay at The Royal Mansour, the luxury hotel and spa built in the heart of the medina, naturally I leapt at the chance. After landing in the newly redesigned Marrakesh Menara Aiport, we were greeted by airport concierge, guided through passport control, skipping the long queue along the way, and introduced to our personal driver from The Royal Mansour. Within the first 10 minutes of being in Marrakech, we had experienced a taste of The Royal Mansour luxury. But this was only a glimpse into what awaited …

Le Jardin, The Royal Mansour

The Lobby, The Royal Mansour

The indoor heated pool, The Royal Mansour

Stepping out of our gold Bentley and looking up at the entrance of The Royal Mansour, gleaming in all of its glory in the bright October sun, we soon realised this truly was a place fit for a king. Commisioned by King Mohammad VI in the early 2000s, The Royal Mansour was designed as a celebration of Moroccan tradition, and a showpiece for the country’s exquisite design and architecture. With no budget, architectural company 3BIS, in association with the American architect OBM, set to work with the help of 1,200 skilled craftsmen and women. 3BIS teamed up with a local partner, the Moroccan designers AXE International in Casablanca, to assist with on-site follow-up. The result is a regal masterpiece – everything, from the dome ceilings to the wooden chair frames, has been hand carved to perfection. And as we edged closer to make our way through the lobby, every little detail of the design was exemplified, especially under the open roof courtyard – central to riad architecture.

The Spa at The Royal Mansour

Courtyard at The Royal Mansour

The bedroom in a Superior Riad at The Royal Mansour

If the buildings weren’t enough, the gardens encasing the resort hit an entirely new level of luxury. Designed by Spanish landscape architect Luis Vallejo, the gardens take you along a path of discovery, enclosing a spacious pool, the Le Jardin restaurant and the 53 riads the resort has to offer. French influences are clear and work as a gentle nod to the history of French colonization in Morroco’s early 20th Century.

This celebration of cultural history within the design of the hotel shows an incredible eye to detail. With each tree, some sourced in nearby Morrocan cities and others rooted into the landscape hundreds of years ago, meticulously placed to lead you deeper into the resort, it was clear that every detail of The Royal Mansour had been added to make your experience feel as private and spacious as possible. Every riad is an individual space, a place of peace and reflection, spread over 1,500 sq ft, each riad has 10 employees to it alone, and all of the hotel’s upkeep occurs in a mass of underground tunnels to make you feel completely undisturbed.

Navigating through the elegant archways, side-stepping the intricate water features and past the exquisite hand painted and glazed ceramics, we reached our superior riad. With a swift swipe of a key card, we made our way into our home for the next couple of days. On entry, we discovered the ground floor – consisting of a private entrance and terrace, an open-air courtyard with a water fountain (a conspicuous feature in every riad), living room, separate sofa area, kitchen and a minibar  where a bottle of wine, on the house, welcomed us. The ground floor alone could have sufficed for our trip. Making our way up the winding staircase, lit by metal lanterns shining incredible patterns of light on the Moroccan tiles, we reached the first floor and our bedroom, furnished with the best silks and brocades, antiques and handcrafted furniture.

Wherever you look you realise that no surface has been left untouched, and with two walk-in wardrobes and a large bathroom, lined entirely with onyx and marble, we thought the riad had reached its peak. But no, finally we drifted in a state of awe up to our private roof terrace, which welcomed us with an incredible view of the medina, gardens and Atlas mountains beyond. With two sun loungers, a sofa area and a private plunge pool, we began to question how we would ever leave.

The ground floor terrace in the Superior Riad

The private terrace in a Superior Riad

The lounge area in The Royal Mansour

When I spoke with the concierge about the architecture she told me that it had been a collaboration of creative minds alike, all with a passion for the traditional Morroccan design and aesthetic. Warm tones with splashes of silver and gold are set against elaborate, geometric patterned curtains and framed by delicate white floral motifs. Ornate mashrabiya screens encase delicate dressing rooms, textiles are hand woven and printed, windows are delicately stained to build magical patterns cascading onto the floors and each wooden surface is polished and buffed so well that you can almost see your reflection.

Since its official opening eight years ago, The Royal Mansour has racked up numerous awards, such as The Best Luxury Hotel in Morroco at the World Luxury Hotel Awards and The World’s Best Boutique Hotel at the World Boutique Hotel Awards. They have also been recognised by two accolades at the Prestigious Star Awards 2016 and in 2015, and last year they were honoured with five prestigious awards in the space of a month. As a result,  The Royal Mansour has become an entity in itself – a brand that now features its own beauty range, it’s own cocktails and has now collaborated with Christian Louboutin to design its own male and female Moroccan slippers. It is no surprise that The Royal Mansour has been officially named as the best hotel in Africa twice in two years running, and it is no surprise that when staying there it was a struggle to ever leave the resort. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough, even just for a visit to gaze upon its exquisite ceilings and chandeliers for the day.

The dining area at The Royal Mansour

La Jardin pool

Lounge area beside Le Jardin pool

by Lily Rimmer

Riads at the The Royal Mansour start from£780 a night, including breakfast.

For more information and to check availability please visit here.

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