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The Royal Mansour

Beauty and decadent service at Marrakech’s palatial property

by Ariston Anderson in Travel on 23 April 2012

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Anyone who books a luxury hotel surely wants the service to adhere to the old adage about being treated like a king, but Marrakech's decadent Royal Mansour palace—originally intended to serve actual nobility—truly delivers such an experience. Overlooking the historic medina, Marrakech's chaotic main marketplace, the hotel was personally commissioned by King Mohamed VI of Morocco to allow state guests. Completed in 2010, the perfect symmetry throughout the property represents the very best of Moorish architecture of Northern Africa, and every single item in the interior part of the space was handmade by a collaboration of local artisans whose decorative arts skills were passed down to them through many generations. Around every corner is another breathtaking example of geometrically chiseled sculptural cedar, zellige ornamental ceramic tile and smooth, shiny moulded tadelakt lime plaster work.

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The Royal Mansour grounds form a labyrinth of paved marble paths lined with olive trees that lead to 53 unique riads, each built in the traditional style of a Moroccan home. Fortunately room keys are housed in a wallet with an accompanying map so you won't get lost. The ground floor of each riad has a courtyard with a fountain, as well as a drawing room with a seating area covered in bespoke furniture and an abundant pile of elegant silk pillows. The second floor comprises a bedroom, dressing room and study. The top floor of each riad also has a private terrace with a fireplace and a plunge pool, perfect for enjoying breakfast with a view of the sunrise over the Atlas mountains. We recommend traditional Moroccan pancakes, Beghrir and Msemen, lightly fried dough served with the Mansour's homemade spreads: almond butter with honey, apricot preserves and chocolate cream.

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The rich three-bedroom riads include a library, private hamman and professional kitchen, and the complex houses one four-bedroom riad for those seeking a truly palatial experience away from home. There are no buttons or switches inside the riads—everything is controlled by a master touchscreen control panel.

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For dinner, two restaurants overseen by Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno represent the dichotomy of Morocco's rich culinary traditions. La Grande Table Marocaine offers outstanding versions of local specialties like sheep's head, while La Grande Table Française serves traditional dishes like couscous and tagine for less daring diners. The restaurants have made the Mansour a top foodie destination in Africa, where innovative dishes like prawns and game meat with local seasoning are paired with an equally impressive wine list.

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The highlight of the Mansour is an unparalleled spa, which envelops guests in a rare sense of calm as they enter through a giant white wrought iron atrium reminiscent of a majestic birdcage. The experience begins in the "wellness lounge" with fresh lemon and ginger juice or a raw appetizer, from which guests can then choose between a traditional hamman for a scrub with black soap or an argan oil massage tailored to an individual's needs. Guests can also enjoy deep steam baths or the covered greenhouse pool overlooking the gardens designed in the style of those on the grounds of the Alhambra Palace in Granada.

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The Royal Mansour complex becomes a different entity at night, scored by the sounds of running water throughout the numerous fountains lining the candlelit walkways. Although there are 500 staff members, about 10 for every riad, you're not likely to see the majority of them. The compound operates through an underground city where 24-hour butlers have access to each riad. This level of attentiveness may take some getting used to, but if you're seeking a getaway where anything you desire is reachable with the touch of a button, you'll find comfort in the Royal Mansour's legendary service.


Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti
40 000 Marrakech
Morocco
+212 5 29 80 80 80

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