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Hotel Highlights

  • Central Marrakech, but away from the medina madness
  • Lovely courtyard and roof terrace with fantastic views
  • Elegant spa and traditional hammam

Overview

Once a wealthy merchant's house opposite the palace in Marrakech, boutique hotels don't come more stylish and intimate than Dar Les Cigognes. Behind a discreet door in the medina quarter, with the help of celebrity architect Charles Boccara, the owners of Dar Les Cigognes have turned two riads into a boutique hotel. Dar Les Cigognes translates as 'the storks' in French, as you can see them circling the skies.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Dar Les Cigognes with us:

A free Moroccan cookery class: book early to reserve your place

Facilities

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Dar Les Cigognes Hotel - Marrakech - Morocco

Need To Know

Rooms

Three superior, seven deluxe, one suite.

Check–out

Midday, flexible if possible.

Rates

Double rooms from $189.00 (€146), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional room tax of €3.50 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rate excludes breakfast (€11 each for Continental).

Also

The hotel has put together its own cookbook, available to buy in the boutique. Be sure to enrol for the hotel's lauded cookery school, where celebrity chefs Yotam Ottolenghi, Choumicha and Mourad Lahlou have previously taught guests to deftly conjure up fine Moroccan fare; it's also had a guest spot on Oprah's TV show. Private full-day and half-day classes are held daily, and are tailored to guests, whether they'd like a children's pastry class or an expert Moroccan cuisine masterclass.

At the hotel

Spa with hammam, aromatherapy, shiatsu massage, reflexology, manicure, pedicure, waxing, boutique shop. There's a private chauffeur available for hire. Small library and boutique. Deluxe rooms (except Silver) and the suite all have open fireplaces.

Our favourite rooms

Silver deluxe room has a four-poster bed and big bath. Harem is the romantic red room with a big four-poster. The suite has bathtub, walk-in shower, walk-in wardrobe, and can be partitioned into two rooms if you’re with children.

Packing tips

Don't bring a stack of books: the library, replete with novels and style bibles in many languages is the perfect spot to curl up and relax.

Also

VIP transfers can be arranged with the hotel for 250–350 Moroccan Dh. Minimum five-night stay required over Christmas, New Year and Easter.

Children

Over-fives welcome. Extra bed for an under-12: €35 a night. There are pairs of rooms, which suit families.

Read more

Food & Drink

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Dar Les Cigognes Hotel - Marrakech - Morocco

Hotel Restaurant

Almost everything you'll eat in the hotel's restaurant is made from scratch: jams, breads, pastries, yoghurt and olive oil, but you'd expect no less from a hotel that's published its own cook book. Anything that can't be made on site is sourced locally, and the menu changes depending on what's in season; Moroccan and Mediterranean dishes feature, including tangia (a traditional beef dish from Marrakech) and buttery pancakes with quail in a lemon sauce. The chefs are happy to impart their knowledge in the on-site cookery school, so you can whip up your favourite meals back home. Breakfast is a hearty international buffet. 

Hotel Bar

No bar as such, the whole riad is at your disposal for relaxing with a drink.

Last orders

For dinner, 9pm.

Room service

24 hours: most requests can be accommodated, but the kitchen closes at 10pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Relaxed.

Top table

In summer, on the patio around the fountain, or the roof terrace. In winter, in the dining room.

Local Guide

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Dar Les Cigognes Hotel - Marrakech - Morocco
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Set out on foot to explore Marrakech’s splendour: two of the city’s most intriguing palaces are just a short stroll away. 19th-century La Bahia –‘the beautiful’– is intricately tiled from floor to ceiling. Behind dusty-red walls lie the ruins of 16th-century El Badi palace, once a sprawling marvel in marble and gold. Palm readers, snake charmers, food peddlers and musicians gather at the city’s lively main square, the Djemaa el Fna. Dive into the souks, a winding network of stalls offering everything from gravity-defying piles of spices to kaleidoscopic lanterns and hand-woven fabrics. Cross the medina to visit the Ben Youssef Medersa, a Koranic scripture school dating back to the 14th century, where crowds flock to see breath-taking carvings and seas of mosaics. Escape the city’s chaos: the hotel can organise day trips to the Atlas Mountains, where you can visit traditional villages to get a glimpse at the Berber way of life and ascend trails in the foothills of North Africa’s highest mountain.

Local restaurants

Le Grand Café de la Poste (+ 212 (0) 244 33038) has been around since the 1920s; it’s somewhat of an institution in Marrakech, with an art-deco setting of checkerboard floors, potted palms and plush sofas. Highlights include roast fish and delicately pink duck breast. Terrasse des Épices (+212 (0) 524 375904) is the big sister of the much-loved, medina-perched Café des Épices. People-watch on their lantern-strewn terrace while sampling grillades (grilled meats and kebabs), followed by something rich and sweet from the classic dessert. The no-frills, souk-side eatery Chez Chegrouni (+212 (0) 246 54761) offers classic dishes of skewered meat, lamb and plum tagine, and fluffy aromatic couscous at fabulous prices. They don’t take reservations so join the queue to devour hearty portions of traditional Moroccan fare.

Local bars

Decadent Smith hotel La Mamounia – once Winston Churchill's favoured drinking den – has some top-drawer bars that make a taxi ride there and back more than worth it. Bar Italien is our personal favourite, with low lighting, a cherry-red interior and just the right amount of leopard print. Live music compliments the maestro mixologists’ classic concoctions on most evenings.

Local cafés

There’s no better spot for a mid-souk stop-off than Café Arabe (+212 (0) 524 429725). Ask for a rooftop table and admire the mountain views or get cosy indoors on the heap of floor cushions. The menu features Italian bruschettas, carpaccios and pastas, alongside traditional Moroccan tagines.

+ Enlarge
Neighbouring the Royal Palace

Dar Les Cigognes

108 rue de Berima, Medina, Marrakech

Planes

The nearest airport is Marrakech’s Menara Airport – fly there from the UK and elsewhere in Europe with British Airways (www.ba.com), Royal Air Maroc (www.royalairmaroc.com), EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com).

Trains

The Moroccan state railway, ONCF (www.oncf.ma), runs inexpensive (but limited) services to Marrakech from Casablanca, Fez and Tangier. Look for TCR (Train Climatisé Rapide) trains to guarantee an air-conditioned journey in summer. You’ll find plenty of taxis waiting at the city’s charming, if slightly run-down, station on Avenue Hassan II.

Automobiles

Driving in Marrakech can be horn-filled and hectic, but if you insist, hire a car from the Avis (www.avis.com) desk at the airport. To reach the hotel, follow Avenue de la Menara to the city centre. Parking is available near the hotel.

Reviews

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Dar Les Cigognes Hotel - Marrakech - Morocco

Anonymous review

by Scott Manson , Rock-star writer

Marrakech is a mediaeval city with a modern twist: you can be woken at 5am by the combined call to prayer from at least five mosques in a 200-metre radius but, if you prefer, you can come stumbling back from Pacha nightclub at around the same time. Sometimes you lose yourself in unnamed, time-soiled antique alleys. Then, just as you’re thinking you could be in any century of human civilisati…
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Dar Les Cigognes

Anonymous review by Scott Manson, Rock-star writer

Marrakech is a mediaeval city with a modern twist: you can be woken at 5am by the combined call to prayer from at least five mosques in a 200-metre radius but, if you prefer, you can come stumbling back from Pacha nightclub at around the same time. Sometimes you lose yourself in unnamed, time-soiled antique alleys. Then, just as you’re thinking you could be in any century of human civilisation, around the corner will come a man tugging a horse piled with plastic cases full of Coca-Cola bottles.

For those tired of the Med sun and the usual round of Eurobreaks, Marrakech offers something different. Something undisputably foreign. At first glance, that may seem an odd remark, since everywhere outside your native country could be described as foreign. But when Mrs Smith and I step into Djemaa El Fna at twilight, Marrakech’s main square provides the sort of culture shock you’d usually associate with somewhere more than a quick jaunt from Europe.

Whether it’s a stall selling suspiciously stained false teeth, a gaggle of Marrakshis listening to a wizened storyteller or the acrobats tumbling past the snake charmers, here is somewhere truly foreign. If I turned around to see a small boy climbing a rope rising up unsupported from the pavement, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Well, OK – I’d shriek like a girl, but you get the gist – Marrakech feels like a living Indiana Jones movie. And we love it.

My lady is blonde, and we are clearly European tourists. This, friends have told us, will mean no end of hassle. ‘She’ll probably have to cover her hair,’ they said. ‘Really?’ ‘Yes, and you can’t wear shorts.’ Wrong on both counts. Mrs Smith’s hair got the odd appreciative word or double take but, as she points out, walking past a British building site can be far more intimidating. And as for my shorts? Not one wolf whistle. Very upsetting.

The locals are almost always courteous, and often highly entertaining. Yes, you’ll receive a few offers from guides, and several young men tell us they can take us on a tour of the tanneries (the smell of these leather-curing workshops is enough to convince us that this is a cultural experience worth missing) but, generally, a polite la shokran (no thanks) sees all but the most persistent chaps push off.

Islam came to Morocco in the seventh century and, although the country is 99 per cent Islamic, the interpretation that rules is far from strict. Alongside ladies top-to-toe in black are others with hem-lengths unlikely to win approval from fierce mullahs. Despite its mediaeval appearance, Marrakech is a progressive city. For evidence, look no further than its home-grown wine. Despite the Koran’s prohibition of alcohol, Morocco makes some excellent wines, which we enjoyed time and again while guests at Dar Les Cigognes.

Located in the heart of the old town of Marrakech, with the royal palace on its doorstep (and the palace’s famous storks’ nests visible from the roof terrace), this riad is the definition of tranquil luxury. A discreet door leads through to two beautifully maintained courtyards with fruit trees, palm-trees and fountains. The hotel’s 11 rooms and suites are arranged around this area, on the first and second floors. Within its thick walls, on balconies overlooking the courtyard (traditionally, riads do not have windows to the outside world) we are spared the noise, smell and, remarkably, heat of the city, and find ourselves in a quiet, reflective space – perfect for new arrivals to this bustling destination.

Ever the busy executive, Mrs Smith is delighted that, despite the building being centuries old, the owners have thoughtfully fitted it out with a WiFi network. And so, while I scrub myself down at the hammam, she spends a pleasant hour on the balcony, sipping mint tea and answering emails. Such is the meditative calm of the place, she claims to have done more work in an hour that she could possibly achieve in a busy London office. The modern/mediaeval thing is a powerful force indeed.

The bedroom is as cute as a button, with walls finished in the silky-smooth tadelakt plaster, which also covers the dining and lounge areas downstairs. Even our bath is covered in this, surely the most tactile finish in the DIY world. To the touch, it has a Teflon-like lack of friction; embarrassingly, Mrs Smith walks into the bedroom as I’m rubbing my cheek on the wall. My explanation of checking the noise levels for review purposes are met with a confused nod.

Dinner is served in the open-air courtyard, with orders to the chef put in earlier on. This is common at the better riads, and indicates that everything has been bought fresh from the market today. If you’re of a mind, the chef at Dar Les Cigognes is even happy to let you help prepare the dinner. (You’re later given the recipe so you can try to recreate your culinary efforts at home). Although tempted, we plump for the traditional trencherman option of simply sitting down and being brought course after course of stunning Moroccan food. From minty, fruity salads to juicy pigeon pie and, of course, lamb and chicken tagines, the four-course spectacular leaves us groaning with delight.

Despite the lure of our bed within olive-throwing distance, we decide to go in search of some late-night fun. The bar scene in Marrakech is surprisingly slick, with almost all the bars located outside the medina, in the new town, Gueliz. A short taxi ride away, this is the modern face of Marrakech, with chain hotels, wide boulevards and a far more western feel. We sank a few cocktails among the designer-clad clientele of Jad Mahal, a sumptuous lounge bar, before heading off to the faded opulence of the casino at La Mamounia hotel. The click of roulette balls, the murmur of French from the croupier, and the heady smoke of a dozen cigars instantly puts us in mind of an old Bond film. From Indian Jones to 007 in one day – not bad. The wish-fulfilment theme continues back at our boutique riad, where calm and luxe replace the excitement of Marrakech until the morning.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Dar Les Cigognes's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The building was beautiful and well laid out. The staff were very attentive and worked hard to ensure you had a nice stay. The food is also lovely and I would recommend anyone who goes here to take a cookery class.

Don’t expect

Some of the rooms require a little refurb and the place would be ideal with a small swimming pool but these are only small points which should not detract from the hotel to any great extent.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This is a great location. Tucked away near the Royal Palace, there's a 'hole in the wall' entrance to a cool, calm oasis. It feels authentic and classy. It's traditionally furnished, expertly managed, with a beautiful roof terrace on which to have breakfast, dine or just lounge with a view of the snow-capped Atlas and the storks nesting on the battlements just beside you: exotic and special.

Don’t expect

It does what it does expertly. Do not expect large rooms, a pool or 'international' hotel-style accessories.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The staff is amazing and Pierre the perfect host. Marrakech is busy, bustling and ever so slightly crazy, but to step inside Dar Les Cigognes is to be transported to an oasis of peace.

Don’t expect

The breakfasts could be better.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The riad itself is beautiful; very tranquil and relaxed as well. The staff is lovely and extremely accommodating. It is also a great location from which to go and explore the sights. If you like bird watching, the resident storks (after whom the hotel is named) are incredible! It surpassed any of our expectations.

 

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved this riad. We were made extremely welcome and like all riads in Morocco, it is amazing what you can find behind the front door! The room we stayed in was Atlas, an lovely big room although you had to negotiate a lot of steps to get to it, but that didn't bother us. We spent four nights here and did so much. We explored the souks, visited the hammam and had a wonderful massage (all catered for in the riad where they fitted in with us which was great), took a trip to the Atlas mountains, which – although the weather wasn't brilliant – was a wonderful trip and well worth doing. We also had a cookery lesson. This was taught by the wonderful Pierre who runs the riad. Firstly we took a tour of the market, which I highly recommend as we saw things that as a tourist we would easily bypass. We had a say in what we wanted to cook and then went into the kitchen where it was all laid out for us to cook. We spent a fabulous afternoon, laughing, drinking very lovely Moroccan wine and doing the odd bit of cooking! We then ate the food on the roof terrace in the sunshine – bliss!

Rating: 7/10 stars