Unlike some of Marrakech’s other five star luxury hotels who seem to shout opulence, the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech whispers it. And honestly, we much preferred that over feeling like we were tiptoeing around a museum. Though each Mandarin Oriental around the world differs, their chic, yet relaxed decor is just one of the reasons they are one of my favorite luxury hotel brands. We were thrilled to discover the new Marrakech property, which opened its doors only a few months ago while on our bucket list trip to Marrakech. Here are just 10 reasons why we loved Mandarin Oriental Marrakech:
1. The Villas
The Mandarin Oriental Marrakech has 54 villas, each which are either 3000 or 4500 square feet in size, inside their own individual rose-covered walled sanctuaries. The villas are built in the style of the Moroccan riad, with the rooms built around a central living space. An infinity pool with a built-in jacuzzi holds center court in the villa with several cozy outdoor living areas and an outdoor kitchen tucked around it.
It’s fabulous to order room service and dine under the stars as a fire roars in the massive outdoor fireplace and you lounge around in the comfy robes. It’s exactly what we did on our first night since we were exhausted from the long drive back to Marrakech from the Sahara. And the next day we could hardly be pried away from sunbathing, punctuated by dips in our private pool. I know we weren’t exactly roughing it in the Sahara on our luxury glamping experience, but we needed that day of relaxation.
The bedroom is at the center with sliding doors that open right to the jacuzzi. I almost always mention that I’m the Goldilocks of hotel beds and the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech’s is not too firm and not too soft; it’s just right and I wish that it was my mattress at home. I believe the mattress is from the Simmons’ hospitality line and you better believe I’ll be verifying that and seeing how I can order my own for home when I purchase a new king size mattress next year. A tv rises out of the foot board of the bed with the touch of a button, though with the view of the pool we never watched the tv in bed.
The spacious bathroom lines the entire one side of the villa with a giant bath clearly made for two, a his and hers double vanity, another separate make-up vanity, a separate toilet room and the pièce de résistance – a steam shower room that turns into your own personal hamman right in your very own villa. Let me tell you, after off-roading through sand dunes and just being in the Sahara for several days I felt like I needed a good scrubbing. The steam shower is stocked with the Moroccan black soap used in traditional hammans and an exfoliating glove. Of course, there isn’t a masseuse like if you venture over to the spa. But isn’t that what Tim is for?
I also have to point out the Berber textiles that pay homage to the traditions of the country this Mandarin Oriental property resides in. I pretty much want every single one of the rugs from our villa in my future house. For now, I have two small Berber print rugs that I managed to fit in Tim’s suitcase and decorate my new apartment in Bordeaux with.
The living room with a well-stocked mini-bar and a work space round out the riad-style villa directly across the courtyard from the bathroom. Tim loved the layout so much he hasn’t stopped talking about designing our future house around it. We did our very first Facebook Live video stream of a tour of our villa. Have a look at the playback:
2. The Spa
The 19,000 square foot spa deserves a review all its own, really. From the moment you set foot in the door and see the brick work, I promise you’ll already be swooning. The spa houses an indoor pool, six spa suites, a yoga studio, well-equipped fitness center, relaxation room and male and female hammans.
My friend Amanda, local and owner of Marrakech Food Tours, had me howling in tears with the stories of her first experience with her soon-to-be Moroccan in-laws at the local hamman. I wasn’t too sure I’d like being scrubbed raw while being flipped about like a pancake on a griddle, so a more gentle hamman experience at the Mandarin Oriental Spa is definitely the way to experience this Moroccan tradition.
Most of the world’s top chefs are men. I bet names like Alain Ducasse, Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck pop in to your head when you think of the world’s best chefs. Certainly in a predominately Muslim country like Morocco, it’s even more rare to find a woman at the helm of a restaurant, let alone a restaurant celebrate as one of Marrakech’s best.
But it’s Moroccan chef Meryem Cherkaou who hails from the country’s capital of Rabat, that has taken Moroccan cuisine and given it a contemporary twist at Mandarin Oriental Marrakech’s on-property restaurant, Mes’Lalla. Even if you aren’t staying at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, a meal at Mes’Lalla is a must.
The menu offers a mouth-watering selection divided in two categories: traditional and signature. With dishes like braised lobster, traditional pastilla and beef shank tagine, it’s hard to choose. Mes’Lalla has a solution for that too with Chef Cherkao’s tasting menu.
We opted for a la carte and started with semi-cooked foie gras with a date jelly for me and marinated seasoned prawns on a tomato topped flatbread for Tim. The started were beautifully plated and delicious. We knew we were in for a good meal.
A traditional beef tagine for Tim and the leg of lamb with pear confit and gingered carrots for me followed. My leg of lamb melted in my mouth, which was no wonder after slow cooking for seven hours. Both excellent choices and so good they managed to go un-photographed.
We couldn’t leave without dessert and rose cannelloni and hazelnut praline pastilla were the perfect sweet end to our meal.
4. Poolside Cocktails
While our own private pool was relaxing and room service readily available, there’s something to be said for the lively vibe at the sparkling main pool and Pool Garden. Poolside service offers a range of snacks and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
I’m a visual person who loves nosily eyeing up what others are eating and drinking. When I saw a red cocktail go by, I didn’t really care what what in it. I just had to have one! Sipping a fabulous cocktail poolside really is the luxe life.
5. The Organic Vegetable Garden
I’ve seen my fair share of herb and vegetable gardens touring luxury hotels around the world. None, however, are quite as impressive as the organic vegetable garden at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech.
The organic vegetable garden is huge with seasonal produce grown by a loving garden keeper. She proudly showed us around all the winter vegetables like purple cauliflower and sweet peas she had us try right out of the pod. Tomatoes, different varieties of lettuce and just about any herb you could imagine were all there in the rows.
The chefs come with their baskets and select their herbs and produce for each meal sitting daily. All while the MO’s mascot, a donkey named Zitouna looks on.
6. Customized Tours and Activities
The Mandarin Oriental Marrakech has a wonderful and knowledgeable concierge team who can set up unique tours and activities in and around Marrakech that you likely won’t find in your Morocco guide book. From small Berber village visits complete with an authentic meal made in a Berber home (trust us, it’s a must do!) to hot air ballooning for a birds-eye view of the Marrakech medina and snow-capped High Atlas mountains or even touring around on a motorcycle sidecar, MO has a unique offering of activities to make your trip one you’ll remember. Ours certainly turned out to be a bucket list trip to Morocco!
7. The Roses
It’s impossible not to stop and smell the roses. They’re everywhere on the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech’s grounds. Over 100,000 of them to be precise, in 30 different varieties and colors!
We were a bit disappointed that the Valley of the Roses hadn’t yet bloomed, but that disappointment was entirely forgotten with the MO being an oasis for roses right in Marrakech. Each of the 54 villas even have their very own rose color. The bi-colored beauties pictured above were in full bloom as we stepped outside our villa door. It’s truly a lovely way to great each day.
8. The Views
While we did also spend time staying at a traditional riad inside the Medina, waking up and having breakfast with this view to the snow-capped High Atlas mountains each morning just couldn’t be beat. With the juxtaposition of the snow and the lush, green grounds you temporarily forget that you’re in the North African desert. The Mandarin Oriental Marrakech could hardly be more postcard perfect.
Mandarin Oriental Marrakech is hardly just a resort. It’s a destination upon itself in Marrakech that is worth exploring.
Approaching the main gate is like the moment in Jurassic Park when the jeeps pull up to a door so tall you have to crane your neck upward before wandering what on earth they keep back there. Grab one of the free bicycles available to guests to use around the 50 acre property.
What you’ll find is rose gardens, olive groves, fragrant orange trees filled with citrus used for freshly squeezed juice for breakfast and gorgeous weeping willows draping glistening reflecting pools.
Any of the spaces are perfect for grabbing a yoga mat from your villa and meditating or working off the delicious Moroccan cuisine you can’t help but stuff yourself with.
10. Little Details
It’s the little things that set even the most luxe of luxury hotels apart. It always impresses us when every staff member can remember each guest and greet them by name. It makes us feel like we’re entering the uber fabulous home of a friend instead of just another hotel.
Not only was every single staff member friendly, little details made our stay one of the best we’ve had anywhere in the world. Each day our villa was filled with a different kind of fresh fruit, cold water, Mandarin Oriental Marrakech’s mint lemonade and treats like chocolates or pastries.
I really loved the beach bags, which is something I almost always forget to bring on a trip that isn’t a beach destination. The beach bags even included his and hers flip flops for the pool.
I could go on and on about all the little details around Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, but I’ll leave you to discover the rest on your own stay!
Know Before You Go
Our Romantic Escape package with stay and dinner at Mes’Lalla was provided by Mandarin Oriental Marrakech in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.