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How to explore the luxury of Morocco in 2016

the Royal Mansour hotel morocco

Leading travel writer Naomi Webb looks at what Morocco has to offer the discerning traveller in 2016.

Morocco is the northern-most country in Africa, surrounded by the Mediterranean to the north and the golden sands of the Sahara to the south. There are European influences in much of the country’s architecture, blended with the mosques, souks and the red sandstone buildings of old Africa, and if you’ve got money there will be no shortage of options for how to spend it.

While the surging hustle and bustle of Marrakesh’s famous central square Jemaa el-Fnaa might not be immediately associated with luxury, the city itself does have a reputation for fantastic hospitality. Just a few minutes from the centre are five-star hotels filled with staff who cannot help you enough.

More resorts are planned for 2016. Indian-based luxury hotel company Oberoi is opening three hotels next year, including a development of villas set in 25 acres of citrus orchards and olive groves in Marrakesh. Another hotel that’s ready in the city right now is the Mandarin Oriental; based 10 minutes from the centre, the 57 villas are set in 50 acres of landscaped gardens incorporating 100,000 scented rose bushes.

The Royal Mansour provides 5 star luxury
The Royal Mansour provides 5 star luxury

It’s within walking distance from treatments derived from Berber, Thai and Chinese Traditional medicine. Incredibly the hotel was nearly a decade in the making, but according to the Telegraph the Atlas suites due to open around Christmas – will boast substantial balconies to complement 1,450 sq ft of space.

According to Tripadvisor the top-ranked hotel in Marrakesh is Riad Kheirredine, which describes itself as ‘a bridge between the past and the present’. The patio and emerald pool is surrounded by 11 rooms complete with cashmere blankets and Berber and Mauritanian carpets, and a roof terrace to gaze towards the Atlas Mountains while you tuck into the juiciest tagines.

Other options include the Royal Mansour; describing itself as an incomparable place, the hotel boasts several luxury diners including La Grande Table Marocaine and La Grande Table Francaise and riads of one bedroom through to the ‘Riad d’Honneur’. The six-star Royal Palm features 134 suites and boasts a golf course and sporting facilities, alongside an unparalleled view of the Atlas Mountains.

The capital Rabat also has its fair share of luxury destinations, although we’ll have to wait a few years for the 200-guestroom Fairmont La Marina Rabat-Sale (scheduled for 2019) on the coast of the Bou Regreg river.

Sofitel Rabat Jardin des Roses
Sofitel Rabat Jardin des Roses

Other current hotels of note from the city include the five-star Sofitel Rabat Jardin des Roses which is located close to the Royal Palace. This description from the official website tells you all you need to know: “Architects Didier Gomez and Karim Chakor have combined French design with Moroccan art on themes of amber, water, roses, mashrabiya latticework and mosaics. Murano glass and marble chandeliers illuminate the hallway.”

Casablanca is more than just a film, it’s also a thriving and busy coastal location. Royal Mansour also has a hotel in the city, while other options include the Kenzi Sidi Maarouf and the Hotel and Spa Le Doge are both well-regarded. For those who want to leave the cities behind completely and venture out into the valleys and mountains, consider the fabulous Kasbah Tamadot, owned by Richard Branson, and its tents, tennis courts, and pools, or the Capaldi country estate in the grounds of a 4-hectare former olive side. Both are only a short distance from Marrakesh – giving you the best of both worlds.