Thursday, June 12th 2014
There are times for barefoot adventures and times for camping under a magical blanket of stars. There are times for rambling conversations and close company with friends. There are times for midnight swims, late night city dates and dancing until dawn. There are also times to escape the madness and retreat. Times to hide away from reality and times to dream. There are times to get lost in a fantasy world of beauty; times to recharge and refresh and times for absolute indulgence and complete luxury.
After a whirlwind, adventure-filled trip across Morocco with thousand of miles covered, 3 editorials and 3 films shot, a new home furnished, a sandstorm braved and eternal memories made, we were in much need of time to recharge and take a break. As creative souls endlessly inspired by colours, textures and architectural details, the luxurious Royal Mansour has always held a top spot on our wish list of hotels to visit for it's sense of mystery, extravagance and seamless blend of Moroccan tradition with modern comforts. Romanced by cities and their stories, their secrets and their spirit, there are some spaces in a city that one dreams of visiting. Often it is those like the Royal Mansour that stand as noble as the city itself. Drawn to Morocco for its innate sense of beauty and driven by our fueled desire to experience the country in its most authentic and true form we had long dreamed of visiting the city’s most illustrious space. An icon (like only a handful in the world) managing to hold within its secret walls the spirit of a country and tell an authentic story of tradition and culture. Anticipation, hope, wonder and emotion enveloped as we waited to discover the true Morocco behind the secret walls.
Enter the grand grounds of this secret oasis through elaborate bronzed gates and you are transported to a magical city where the madness of the souks is left behind (although only a 5 minute stroll away), nothing is as it first seems and reality gives way to a royal terracotta palace where dreams are brought to life and everything is possible. Nestled inside the Medina, hidden by ancient city walls and amidst giant palms and citrus and pomegranate trees, the Royal Mansour; a labyrinth Medina within Medina is an intoxicating mystery waiting to be discovered. With the opening of the city gates begins an excitement of the senses, a royal treatment, an astounding service and a beautiful discovery of Moroccan tradition. Where everything you could possibly want for is available and 500 of the most committed staff preempt your every need to make for the most relaxing, indulgent and inspiring stay. The beauty of the hotel reveals itself in layers as you come to discover the warmth and generosity of the Moroccan people and their commitment to craftsmanship, tradition, excellence and most importantly their unique culture.
Just like the city of Marrakech, the beauty of the Royal Mansour is that it is an open page for travellers to write their own story. There is an unpredictability, a randomness and organized chaos that excites. Designed to mirror the mystery of the city with its mazed alleyways, exotic charms, ancient otherworldliness and beautiful romance of the old and the new, the hotel unfolds with unexpected alleyways and endless twists and turns. Anticipation is heightened and senses are set alight with rose scents lingering in the air, trickling fountains flowing and intoxicating visual delights of rich colours, elaborate details, mystical objects and sumptuous materials. From the moment of arrival the eyes are conflicted. There isn’t an inch of space not to be consumed, as you set out to discover the hidden nooks, romantic rooftops with views of the Koutoubia Moaque and Atlas Mountains, exotic palm tree clad gardens, serene pool area, winding paths, cozy bars, relaxing lounges and heavenly spa (which requires a full post of its own). You sip cocktails by the fire, gaze at the stars from the retractable roof library and soak up the extravagance of the open roof reception lobby where a sunken fountain ebbs and flows and a huge rustic chandelier is suspended almost as if in mid air.
Forever drawn to the intricate and breathtaking details of Moroccan architecture, the grandness and the talented craftsmanship behind the visually intoxicating city, for us the Royal Mansour is the ultimate in design inspiration. Commissioned by King Mohammed VI and with the best hands of more than 1500 Moroccan artisans working for 4 years to create the city within a city, every single detail of the hotel celebrates traditional artisan skills and local Moroccan design. Inspired by the exoticism and richness of Marrakech and the Medina, walls are clad with rose gold leaf like the last of the rays of a setting sun, doors are turquoise and riads are terracotta, plasterwork is delicately carved, zellige tiles are mosaiced in intricate geometric patterns, wood is cedar, hallways are arched and symmetrical, and surfaces are juxtaposed to create an unparalleled grandness.
If it is sophistication and luxury that you seek there is no better time or place to indulge and a stay at the Royal Mansour will have you questioning the value of every other hotel you have ever stayed at. The level of service, sophistication, elegance and detail making it worth everything you have invested in this experience. From being ushered to your private riad where you check in in complete privacy and your bags and butler await in your room (accessed magically by secret underground tunnels for staff), the luxuries and service from the staff will be like nothing you have ever experienced. Your very own 2 bedroom private riad resembling a small palace spread over three elaborate floors becomes your private hideaway. You dine in your private dining room at all hours on the most delicious Mediterranean cuisines that rival a fine dining restaurant. You indulge in frozen margaritas by your rooftop pool or visit the Hotel’s two fine dining restaurants, La Grande Table Marocaine and La Grande Table Francaise, which sits within their very own miniature palaces inside the hotel walls and are supervised by celebrated Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno. You might lose hours in the sun in the garden restaurant feasting on a continental breakfast of breads and pastries, traditional crepes, fresh fruit and porridge, baked eggs and pancakes, the freshest of orange juices and way too many coffees. Your days will pass easily and the outside world will disappear as the creation of a city within a city draws you in and allows you to fully retreat.
For those romanced by tradition and culture there are authentic Moroccan experiences to immerse yourself in. Whether it be an authentic meal of Moroccan cuisine, exotic spices and age old recipes that have been given contemporary flair at La Grande Table Marocaine (think local rose wines, homemade bread, small tapas style Moroccan salads, lemon chicken tagine, seven-vegetable couscous, crystal stemware and white glove service) or a traditional Hamman treatment at the hotel’s iconic spa, we love that luxury hasn’t meant the loss of culture and tradition.
While extravagant, lavish and indulgent, the Royal Mansour is also breathtaking beautiful, charming, inspired and an absolute must visit whilst in Marrakech. It really is a celebration of all that makes Marrakech one of those extraordinary places that draws you in and excites the senses. Whether it’s a time to relax and retreat or a time to overindulge, a time to be inspired, a time for romance or a time to celebrate; whether you are romanced by architecture and art, culture and heritage or excellence and all that it is lavish you will absolutely love the Royal Mansour. Unlike other luxury hotels around the world it is also an authentic cultural experience and gives those seeking to immerse themselves in sophistication and culture a glimpse of the countries soul. From the most unparalleled service you will ever experience to the ongoing excitement of the senses you are mesmorised by a world that mirrors the city. It is, like Marrakech a mysterious tapestry intricately woven with textured threads of magic and culture, of colour and history, of architecture and tradition, of old and new.
There are some images that become so iconic that they are synonymous with a country. Forever pinned on the spilling mood boards of nomadic beauties and the interior design infatuated as that magical place that calls; an enticing world for escape in a land far away. When the days are long and the stresses high there is peace in knowing that this dreamy place awaits. Most will never go, but the romance is in the hope. The hope that one-day you will escape, you will seek and you will retreat.
The iconic Royal Mansour Spa with its lavish white web lace design and temple-like ethereal space that floods with the golden light of the red city has long been our dreamy place for escape in a land far away. Like the many who have been memorised by the image of the incredible design before us and the many that it will continue to inspire, we have long dreamed of visiting this Marrakech icon and one of the world’s most beautiful and luxurious spas. This single image is responsible for igniting exotic daydreams and an obsession with all white interiors. It was obvious the Royal Mansour Spa was our number one must visit on our trip to Morocco.
Enter the 2,500 square metre Royal Mansour Spa where ethereal natural light floods through floor-to-ceiling white ornate web lace work and the cool air is filled with the sweet scent of fresh roses where you automatically feel the relaxation and serenity take over. If the Medina and private riads of Royal Mansour intoxicate the senses with exotic richness, the spa (set separately with its own entrance and driveway and gardens of citrus and lemon trees) calms the emotions with beautiful bright white light flooding in in as far as the eye can see, heavenly high ceilings, trickling fountains and a mood of serene opulence. This peaceful temple forces you to leave behind the hustle, bustle and heat of Marrakech and emerges as a magical place charged with majestic powers to take you far away.
From the moment of arrival your escape begins. As you wait for your treatment to commence in the Spa’s lobby where private booths are adorned with pastel soft furnishings, sunlight streams through the glass atrium and the soft trickle of the centre fountain silences out any outside noise, you know this is going to be an otherworldly experience. An experience that is infused with luxury and tradition and perhaps one that holds much more than the iconic images of its beautiful design.
Move through the lobby area and take the lift upstairs (the Spa is spread over three elaborate floors) in anticipation of your treatment and you will fall even deeper into this heavenly rabbit hole and start to question exactly how you will find your way back to reality. Elaborate relaxation rooms and private treatment suites lay secretly behind close doors and secluded terraces overlooking the exotic terracotta city await moments of peace.
From ancient holistic rituals to modern advances in anti-ageing and skin care this is really is a world-class spa and the 101 different treatments on offer and prestigious brands used rival the world’s best luxury spa experiences. Think Moroccan Deep Tissue Massage, Traditional Hammam, Reflexology, Maroc Pureness Facial, Balneotherapy, Sea algae wrap, Sisley Hydration Facial and Therapeutic massage.
Inspired to deliver a traditional Moroccan spa experience a number of treatments are steeped in history and are influenced by Moroccan tradition. Romanced by immersing ourselves in local culture and the spirit of a place, we opt tor the ancient Moroccan ritual of the traditional Hammam - a signature bathing ritual that has existed for thousands of years. The Hammam, meaning “spreader of warmth” in Arabic is a traditional cleaning ritual, undertaken by Moroccan people once a week in a communal bathhouse. Wander around the old city and in every neighbourhood you will see a public Hammam usually close to a bakery to help heat the steam room and marked by intricate and colourful tiles. The soulful Hamman experience at the Royal Mansour brings the purification ritual to a whole new level of luxury. Combing hot saunas, fragranced steam and cold plunge pools to revitalise the body and soul in a private treatment room (although you can book a double treatment if desired). Black soap scrub is applied whilst lying on heated hot marble and echos of tricking water filled the room. The steam allows your skin to absorb the oils and helps to relax the muscles. Exfoliation occurs when the therapist wearing traditional kessa massage glove scrubs you head to toe before you climb into an icy cold plunge pool. The treatment often referred to as a rebirth and makes us feel just that - refreshed, revitalised, cleansed and skin left silky smooth. It is the perfect treatment to indulge in after a week of madness and editorial shooting in the Sahara Desert.
Post treatment the options for further escape seem endless and we don’t rush to meet reality. The Spa really does deserve a whole day to take advantage of the full experience and if the day has been lost to the madness that is the Medina, the 9pm close time can be flexible for hotel guests. Whether you choose to sit by the indoor clear covered pool, take a nap in the relaxation room, work off some of your overindulgence in the Pilates studio or gym or even have your hair done at the salon, nothing quite compares to the level of indulgence and choice on offer. For a touch of Paris in Medina explore the Spa’s boutique where shelves of Maroc Maroc, Sisley, Dr Hauschka, Chanel and Leonor Greyl products used in the treatments can be shopped.
An iconic image might be able to spark exotic daydreams and provide moments of fleeting escape, but your imagination won’t do this dreamy space justice. If you are lucky enough to be in Morocco and regardless of whether you are a hotel guest or not a visit the Royal Mansour Spa will regenerate the mind, body and soul in ways one doesn’t even know possible. Just like the city within a city that is the Royal Mansour, the spa also waits to be discovered. A breathtaking white temple for the times to escape, times to relax and times to indulge.
Think about the majestic places you may have visited, maybe only in the exotic daydreams that cloud days from the stresses of reality, that draw you back and have you never wanting to leave. Often it’s not the modern comforts, extravagant luxuries or even the five star services, but the warm spirit a place illuminates that has your soul wanting to rest a little longer. It is in the details, the culture and tradition, the seclusion and privacy and personal journey that has your heart seeking a path back.
There are luxury hotel rooms, and then there are the private Riads of the Royal Mansour. Reminiscent of an ancient otherworld where tradition and luxury are delivered with warmth and spirit, and culture and authenticity is preserved in the face of an era that seems obsessed with technology and in-your-face glamour. The private riads of Royal Mansour offer a charming blend of culture and luxury. Perfect for those seeking a luxurious and private honeymoon option in the complete seclusion of a private riad, a spirited pre-wedding getaway with girlfriends or even an inspired space to hold a lavish rehearsal dinner under the stars on a private rooftop with the last of the suns rays sets on the red city of Marrakech, the Royal Mansour Riads tell a story of exoticism and culture; one that is honest and true and cant be replicated by other luxury hotels around the world.
True Marrakech is discovered in the home where tradition is preserved, design is inspired and privacy and peace prevail. The two-bedroom riad (there are 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom available) that sprawls over three grand floors has been designed to embody this tradition of spirit and upon entering the space and standing in the central open-air courtyard with your face illuminated by natural light you are intoxicated by the beautiful blend of tradition and opulence. Think a living room under the open sky, trickling fountains, scents of wood and fresh roses, tiled floors layered with patterned rugs, an elaborate dining room, a traditional Moroccan Bhou (lounge), a chess room and bar. Bedrooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms for retreat complete with the softest linens and MarocMaroc beauty products, set separately on the first floor overlooking the tranquil open roof courtyard. A private rooftop looking over the city of Marrakech with its own plunge pool, open fireplace, dining area and solarium waiting your retreat on the third level.
As the eyes adjust to the overwhelming grandness of the riad, you take in the rich interiors, unique furnishings, colourful mosaics, luxurious fabrics, decadent antiques and handcrafted furniture sourced from all around the world. The divine details of the embellished space begin to emerge and you realise that this place might very well be one of those that you revisit time and time again, if only in your most animated daydreams. Each riad is unique and decorated differently, all with Moroccan design and craftsmanship. Think walls lined with glazed honey, blue, green or terracotta tiles; zelliges and smooth, shiny tadelakt painted walls; mashrabiya screens; ceilings of sculpted plaster and painted wooden panels. A mix of textures, a clash of surfaces and handmade details create a mood of warmth and opulence. Fusing the beautiful traditional architecture and Moroccan details with modern elements of technology hidden discretely make for a luxurious and modern stay. TV’s are hidden behind intricately carved walls, discrete touch screens control lights and open roofs are sensored according to the weather. We loved that the traditional riad design isn't compromised by technology!
The more you immerse yourself in your private world, the more you discover and the more that awaits. Whether it’s a moment of celebration with the arrival bottle of Champagne, a moment of complete relaxation in the enormous marble bath, a moment of peace taking in the exotic city from your private rooftop as the Muslim call to prayer echoes, or a moment of overindulgence with extravagant in-room dining and the most delicious Mediterranean cuisines, there are moments for whatever form of indulgence you seek. We recommend giving your days freely to sipping tea in the bhou, sharing rambling conversations around the dining table, indulging with cocktails in the sun by the private pool, snoozing on the rooftop day bed and feasting on the most amazing food. While the city waits outside an enticing world is on the inside of your very own private walls.
While visually spectacular, the real secret to the splendor of the riads is in the service provided during your stay. The design of the hotel has been carefully considered for complete privacy and seclusion with an elaborate underground tunnel system providing discrete access to the riads for staff. A private butler called Rishi with a warm spirit and gentle soul might service your stay. Available when required, discrete always and bringing a sense of culture and friendship to the stay, you’ll fall in love with the personalised touches and the way service is delivered with a kind smile.
As we immerse ourselves in this magical space and give ourselves freely to its majestic powers to transport, we fall even more in love with the city of Marrakech and what is stands for. When forced to return to reality and leave behind this once in a lifetime experience we will remember the time we were able to fully escape reality, immerse ourselves in culture and learn about the Moroccan way of life. It will forever stand as that alluring place that our hearts will be forever mapping a path for return.
Weddings and Events
While there are large and elaborate spaces and terraces within the main lobby area for weddings and events, we love the idea of a small and intimate gathering in your private riad. As the last of red sunrays turn the city gold, the rooftop of your riad evokes exotic romance. Have a dinner party by the pool and feast on the delicious cuisine, cocktails and wine available. Your very own butler will service your dinner and no additional styling is needed. This is the perfect option for a small elopement!
The extravagant and formal event ballroom works for a more classic wedding aesthetic. It is very opulent and lavish so additional styling would be kept to a minimum in this area. Crystal vases filled with an abundance of antique roses and soft flickering pillar candles would work beautifully.
The Terrace space overlooking the main lobby or the Hotel’s lobby are our favourite areas for a bohemian-inspired cocktail style reception. Palm tree clad views of the city from the terracotta terrace or the open roof reception lobby with its huge rustic chandelier, bohemian drapes and intricate tiles are the perfect style for a mood of effortless bohemian luxury.
La Table is the Hotel’s courtyard dining space and is great for a more casual wedding luncheon. Think white cane furniture, picnic umbrellas and coloured crystal ware set in the garden amongst rustic olive trees. This more informal outdoor space (although the service is still that of a fine dining restaurant) is perfect to hold a pre-wedding lunch with your bridal party and guests.