In brief: Walking into La Mamounia verges on a religious experience for those who genuflect at the altar of high-end hotels. Since its 1929 opening, it has been renowned as one of the world’s finest, leading in high design, ultra-luxe interiors and best-in-class hospitality – qualities that now make it The Best Hotel in Africa 2023. Its timeless-yet-modern blueprint received a recent renovation by Parisian architects Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku. A legendary hotel with a rich past, the site dates back to the 18th century, when the son of Sultan Mohammed Ben Abdallah transformed its fragrant grounds – a visual cacophony of wild olive and orange trees, cacti, palms and bougainvillea – into a venue for lavish garden parties.
What’s new? Preserving the strong foundations of the property’s heritage, spaces have been reinvigorated to draw in new food and beverage experiences including an underground wine bar, a caviar and champagne room and rooftop DJ lounge. There’s also a moody-hued 21-seat cinema, while guest rooms and public areas have received fresh flourish. French pâtissier Pierre Hermé has also arrived, alongside lauded chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who has revealed two new dining concepts in the form of an Italian trattoria and Southeast Asian restaurant.
Suite dreams: A feast for the senses, La Mamounia’s design puts palatial splendour centre stage, merging Moroccan architectural tropes, art deco edge and modern elegance. The guest accommodation ranges from generous deluxe rooms and decadent suites – many with terraces overlooking the grounds – to a trio of standalone pool riads. The Majorelle Suite stands out for its vibrant hues, a nod to the city’s namesake Jardin Majorelle.
A word on the spa: Follow the lantern-lit stairs into the hotel’s inner sanctum. Even if you’ve never downloaded Instagram it’s likely you’ll have seen images of this iconic spa. Framed by the indoor pool is a gilded Moorish plinth; subdued colourways, marble and rounded curves envelope further.
A resort for legends: It was from his room at La Mamounia that Winston Churchill declared Marrakech the most beautiful place in the world. Spending his winters here, from his third-floor suite – now the grand Churchill Suite – he would paint the city scene below. Roosevelt came on Churchill’s recommendation; Alfred Hitchcock filmed scenes for The Man Who Knew Too Much; Yves Saint-Laurent, Charlie Chaplin and Francis Ford Coppola holidayed here; so came The Rolling Stones, and Paul McCartney composed Mamunia in situ. Other notable guests include Joan Collins and Elton John.