This is an orange-blossom-scented, antique-filled retreat away from the hubbub – you’ll need to walk a little way to reach Marrakech’s finest restaurants and shops. But if you’re obsessed with small details, from the flowers on the table to the linens on your bed, adore scented gardens and favour intimate spaces that make you feel like you own the place, this Conran nest is for you. Tara Stevens
Riad Secret Jardin
Photographer Cyrielle Astaing and art director Julien Phomveha met in Paris, but their move to Marrakech in 2015 brought with it the opportunity to open their own riad. In the central courtyard, the resident cat stares out chirping birds in the banana trees. Rooms are set around this lush garden – interior details in the rooms have been sourced from local markets, so you can shop the look, and the dried pampas grass and flowers throughout the hotel can be bought and whisked away with you when you check out. This is, at its heart, a creative hub where artists take up months-long residencies to soak up inspiration from Marrakech’s fine creatives and work on artistic projects detached from the rest of the world. The couple’s dog, a dead-ringer for Toto from The Wizard of Oz, snoozes on the pink rooftop while you have breakfast overlooking the skyline – a unmissable delight of staying here. Sophie Knight
Four Seasons Marrakech
There are quirkier, more boho places to stay in Marrakech with tiny travellers. Fawakay Villas has a Berber tent in the garden for sleepouts, for example, while the Beldi Country Club is a rustic-chic enclave with pottery classes and riding lessons. But for a gentle introduction to North Africa, Four Seasons Resort Marrakech is safe and reliable, yet has a thrillingly high excitement factor.
On arrival, there are silver trays of fresh mint tea and little bowls of almonds in the lobby, where kids are mesmerised by the chirping from the gigantic white birdcage. At night, the hotel is a sparkling, candlelit extravaganza, and bedrooms are scented with orange or rose. Children fall in love with the atmosphere and squeal over in-room surprises such as chocolate brownies, mini dressing gowns, mini djellabas (to sleep in) and toy camels. The kids’ club can arrange everything from belly dancing to bread-making, and the staff seem to be permanently on an exaggerated cartoon high. There’s a warm, shallow pool for toddlers, a basketball net, film screenings, picnics, and games on speed dial.
While all that’s happening, parents can dash to the cooling calm of the spa for an authentic hammam – including scream-out-loud cold-water dousings – followed by the most delicious fresh rosemary and geranium tea. Or play tennis, have a yoga lesson or just loll in the sunshine. There are two swimming pools – one an adults-only dream of symmetry, the other a sprawling, free-form frenzy of floats, balls and water bombs. Cabanas provide much-needed shade, the wood-fired pizzas are bang-on, and the homemade ice creams are irresistible.
Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech
These are some serious digs: a total of 54 deeply private, one- and two-bedroom villas, all with creamy stone floors and carved tadelakt walls framed by stately columns (there are also nine first-floor rooms with fabulous Atlas views). The outdoor showers are enclosed with bamboo, while the courtyards have crackling wood fires and there are marble hammams in the bathrooms. A stroll through the 20 hectares of gardens, perfumed with the scent of 100,000 roses, leads to a spa and hammam of epic proportions, which unfurls in a series of graceful arches like those of the Mezquita in Córdoba. It’s the attention to hand-crafted details like these that set the Mandarin apart from the city’s more blingy five stars, and there’s other carefully curated stuff too – from making dinner-party dishes with high-flying chefs to touring the organic fruit and vegetable garden. When the heat of the day gets too much just sneak back to the villa and spend the afternoon snoozing on a king-size daybed by the pool. This is somewhere to waft around indulging in all the extras, from yoga sessions to an in-room supper whipped up by a private chef. Tara Stevens
The designer of this beautiful riad, Beatrice Faujas, spent some time in the Soviet Union and its name comes from the Russian word for blue. Fittingly, she has painted the courtyard an eye-popping Majorelle blue, using it as a flamboyant foil for her gallery-worthy art collection, which ranges from a hot-pink canine sculpture in the lobby to a graffitied splash-back in the rooftop shower. The eight bedrooms are altogether more sultry, with a palette of dark metallics. The Catherine, for example, has aubergine walls, python-skin armchairs and a fireplace trimmed with hand-beaten metal. Creamy, intricately carved plaster makes a statement headboard for the bed. The bar and sitting room is finished in charcoal tadelakt with floors embossed in Islamic motifs that contrast pleasingly with pastel-coloured armchairs and gold velvet banquettes. The furniture was bought mainly at auction or specially commissioned, and every last stick is for sale. Work will soon begin on converting the house next door, which will add a large pool, spa and eight more bedrooms by the end of the year. But for now, this is a peaceful little hideaway in the heart of Sidi Mimoun, the neighbourhood that’s also home to La Mamounia. Cute and cosy with lovely staff, it’s just the kind of place to combine a low-key weekend with a spot of sightseeing. Tara Stevens
A 50-minute drive from Marrakech in the village of Amizmiz, this kasbah is charming but the real joy is its surroundings: a gigantic green lake fringed by pines, the honey-hued peaks of the Atlas so close you can almost touch them, and the conical shape of Toubkal dusted with snow. The Kasbah is the rural sibling to the well-established Beldi Country Club in town, and since it opened late in 2014 has become a popular base for long hikes or gaucho-style gallops across the plains. There are 30 bedrooms, a couple of dining rooms, a Berber tent, two swimming pools and a hammam lit by jewel-bright glass, all hidden hobbit-like among thickets of purple fountain grass. The best is the lodge rooms, each with a floor-to-ceiling window facing the mountains to soak up mesmerising sunrise views from your bed. After a wilderness escapade, recline on one of the Berber carpets laid out beneath an ancient holm oak and picnic on lemony chicken tagine and chocolate mousse. At sunset, sit poolside with a cool bottle of Casablanca to watch the water on the lake flicker from emerald green to midnight blue – when evening comes, the canopy of stars unfolds above, unspoiled by city lights. Tara Stevens
This hip and friendly hotel is set in five hidden acres off the dusty road to Orika. Its rock-star theme was dreamt up by music-loving French owner Laurent Cohen, and his concept extends to a recording studio (with in-house technicians) and every conceivable instrument to play around with. The rooms (including two villas with private pools and an air-conditioned Berber tent) are imaginative and fun, with a stylish mix of handcrafted furniture. Each is different: the baroque, scarlet-walled Rolling Stones room; the Jimi Hendrix with a four-poster and a bath hidden behind a latticed wooden mashrabiya; the flashy silver Backstage artist’s lodge, or even the powder-pink Pompadour. All of which may sound over the top, but is elegant and wonderfully laidback. The good vibes continue at the white-on-white spa with treatments that include the Sound of Silence (using resonating Tibetan bowls) and the Forever Young (an anti-ageing massage with argan oil and prickly-pear essences). The garden restaurant, surrounded by citrus trees, serves soups, Moroccan salads and chicken and lamb tagines, with skewers of fresh fruit and honey pastries for pudding. If you can tear yourself away from the pool (where local musicians jam at sunset) or the dramatic views over the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, the clamour of Marrakech is just a 20-minute drive away. Lanie Goodman
This is a celebratory kind of a place, a three-bedroom pleasure palace in the Palmeraie knitted together by majestic domed roofs and tiled waterways, which is fast becoming the star of an already pretty fabulous show (the main house, Villa Ezzahra, has hosted the likes of Daniel Craig). Azzaytouna is the most intimate of the three villas, set among a cluster of century-old olive trees with a private pool that’s long enough for laps (and plunge pools in the walled gardens that lead off each bedroom). There are Indian charpoi beds for collapsing in the shade, a private hammam for olive-soap scrub downs, while massage and manicures can be taken wherever and whenever you want. The vast living room has a fireplace, lit every evening, and every wall is resplendent with original art, filigreed copper baubles glittering from the cupola. It feels like a grand home rather than a villa rental, and taking all three houses would make this the ultimate party pad. Everything except alcohol is included, which means, praise be, nobody need worry about a thing from the moment of arrival – unless it’s whether or not to have another lovely cold glass of Pinot Gris. Tara Stevens