The Royal Mansour, Karawan Riad and Riad Kherridine Top Our List of Favorite Moroccan Hotels
These exciting escapes range from the intimate to the opulent
The Royal Mansour
It would be impossible to compile a list of our favorite hotels in Morocco without including the Royal Mansour Hotel. Known the world over for its opulence, its extreme concept of luxury, and breathtaking beauty, this hotel has earned a place on the world stage in a class of its own.
Situated in the heart of Marrakesh only steps away from the famed Jemma el Fna square in the heart of the Medina, the Royal Mansour Hotel is not only royal in name but royal in title. It is the only property open to the public that personally belongs to the King of Morocco, who is often seen staying on site. It’s for this reason this hotel far exceeds expectations as it is one that is, quite truly, fit for a King.
The Royal Mansour does not have any actual rooms; rather, it is a collection of sumptuous riads (a traditional Moroccon home built around a courtyard) and it is in these riads where guests enjoy their stay. Each riad is a mini-casa that rises up to three stories and is equipped with a private elevator which, when taken to the roof, leads the guest to their own plunge pool.
Service is of the utmost value at The Royal Mansour and within each riad are separate doors hidden away from guests for staff use only that connect throughout the property via tunnels. These hidden tunnels and doors ensure that servicing the property never interferes with the guest experience, so staff are never seen carrying away room service trays and only provide services, like room makeup, when guests are out of the riad.
While each riad is decorated with beautifully handcrafted details throughout, the elevator doors are a sight to behold which are hand made and opulently designed. A favorite detail for many guests of The Royal Mansour Hotel is the gold-embossed stationery personalized with each guest’s name which awaits them in the room upon arrival.
If the Royal Mansour is about regal opulence, then the Karawan Riad is its creative counterpart. An intimate hotel with a collection of only 7 suites, each room is designed differently and relies heavily on Morcocan traditions for its interior design, but complements it by melding it with a modern point of view.
This concept of joining the old with the new is seamless and seen through many different executions. For example, in the Lawaan suite guests are treated to a room awash in whites and light tones, which contradicts traditional Moroccan interior design which relies on heavier colors and textures. Or in the Suhaili suite, the floors are in traditional Moroccan zellije (glazed mosaic tile) yet atop these floors sits Phillippe Starck’s Louis Ghost chair. Nearby, is a sink carved from one piece of cream-toned stone which takes the shape of a massive rectangle. The Demani suite is an exploration of Africa which is seen through a heavy use of wood, zebra-print upholstery covering the benches, and African art and artifacts displayed prominently throughout the suite.
Situated like a traditional riad, all the suites face an interior courtyard whose ceiling is open to the sky. The heart of this riad is its highly considered identity which was driven by the desire to recreate the soul of the building from 300 years ago.
Once upon a time, the Karawan Riad was the grandest harem in the Fez Medina and its residents were powerful female pashas (women part of the ruling class). These women were known for their elegance, intelligence and refinement and were also trusted advisors to their male counterparts. They lived, tucked away in these suites, entertaining and influencing, and it’s this feeling which the Karawan Riad imbues within its world.
They achieved this vision through a meticulous ten-year restoration where the architects and designers of the hotel worked hard to source the exact materials that were used 300 years ago. They used these materials and made them into the wrought-iron work, plaster and filigree lanterns, silk embroidery and richly-painted wood that exists today to recreate a bygone world of magic and mystery.
Blending contemporary Italy and traditional Morocco is the Riad Kherridine. It takes its cues from Morocco through architecture and archways, a prominent use of drapery and rugs with a heavy-handed use of fabric throughout the rooms. This meshes with Italy through whitewashed walls, fountains throughout the courtyard garden, an emphasis on cooler tones, and furniture and accent pieces in sharp, clean shapes.
Each suite has its own individual design which ranges in color from a delicate palette of mint pistachio and rosé pink to much heavier burgundy red and deep ocean blue. Texture is a large part of the identity of each suite which is seen in the multitude of rugs in each room and the dramatic choice of fabrics, like those which hang off the four-poster beds common throughout the suites.
The public areas, like the pool and the courtyard, lean on its Italian identity through the use of neutral stone, neutral tones, and contemporary design and furniture on the roof deck and around the pool.
The biggest perk for guests is this hotel’s exclusivity: The property, including the spa and the restaurant, is completely private and only open to guests of the hotel.