Blighty is cold. So bitterly cold. The frost pinches and the rain dampens the spirits. So, if you’re looking to escape the UK’s caliginous season, why not pack-up and jet-off to sun-drenched Marrakech on the tip of the African continent? Its sounds will stir, its sights will charm and, more importantly, its average December temperatures of 19C will warm up your travelling soul in no time.
The Red City awaits, gents…
Nestled in a natural landscape of 231 hectares of palm, olive and orange trees, lying in the shadow of the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains, Fairmont Royal Palm is the ultimate oasis of luxury, style, and adventure located only 12km from the vibrant “Red City” of Marrakesh.
The hotel features opulent guest rooms and suites overlooking our 18-hole Golf Course and the Altlas Mountains. Indulge in one of the six eclectic restaurants and bars offering local and international cuisine, a 2,000 sqm swimming pool, and a 3,500 sqm Spa offering the ultimate escape and relaxation.
The opulent L’Hôtel near Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa square is a 19th century riad that’s recently been remixed and updated by British designer Jasper Conran. The result? A collection of five 30s-inspired rooms complete with antique furniture, Moroccan crafts, whitewashed walls, keyhole fireplaces and art that’s been hand-picked from Conran’s private collection. Located in the grounds you’ll find a courtyard filled with orange, lemon and banana trees as well as a sleek and narrow swimming pool (a rarity in the Medina). In the morning, dine on sweet treats underneath a bougainvillea-laden pergola, and after an early dinner make sure to head up to the roof terrace where you’ll be able to see nightfall slowly drape down over the Atlas Mountains.
Blending Moroccan motifs with pop art aesthetics and Scandi furnishings, Riad Goloboy is a hotel that is built on good design. It makes sense, then, that the building is also lavished with a Majorelle blue courtyard, purple-, yellow- and apricot-coloured rooms and a winding staircase that’s topped with a kaleidoscopic snake top rail. For travellers who prefer to lounge around on their city break rather than experience the hustle of the town, you’ll be pleased to know that this grandiose retreat is complete with an outdoor fireplace and a whirlwind tub.
If you’re on the hunt for something sophisticated yet challenging, consider Latitude 31, an internal tree-filled courtyard that serves up Medi-Moroccan fusion dishes such as cream cheese briouat with strawberry puree and beef fillet stuffed with nuts and drizzled with cep sauce. Once you visit, you’ll be back in no time.
As somewhere that’s hosted the likes of Winston Churchill and Jackie Kennedy, you know that Le Restaurant at La Maison Arabe won’t disappoint. The warming glow of the umber-coloured room creates an intimate atmosphere amongst diners, while the menu – which offers up hearty offerings such as saffron-infused lamb chops – ensures there’s also substance to this eatery’s style.
Located in a corner of the Spice Square, Nomad, with its monochromatic tables and sand-coloured sofas, feels more modest Scandi than vibrant Moroccan. The food, too, is also unapologetically contemporary, with dynamic flavours and dishes such as shaved cauliflower and fennel salad, Moroccan pastille and flourless orange cake with caramelised orange zest.
For a feel of true Morocco, head on over to the Djemaa el-Fna where you’ll witness everything from snake charming to storytelling. If you’re an art buff, the Mattise Art Gallery – a retro villa that exhibits the work of new talent alongside more established names – is a must-visit destination. Also, you can’t visit Marrakech without having a hammam. After all, keeping your skin in pristine condition in this blistering nook of the globe is tricky. Dar les Cicognes is one of the finest around, and here you’ll your body will be rejuvenated and resurrected; trust us, you’ll feel like a new man afterwards.
Flight time: 3.5 – 4 hours from the UK
Tipping: approximately 10%
Key phrase: Afek (“please), shukran (“thank you”), labess (“how are you?”), beslama (“goodbye”)
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Lock in those dates and book your tickets now, gents