Worth getting out of bed for
After you've pampered in the hammam, dipped in the pool and lounged in the library, you'll want to explore. The Jardin Majorelle is within walking distance, and has a small but perfectly curated gallery of Islamic cultural artefacts, from Berber tent poles to antique textiles (as well as some of artist Jacques Majorelle's beautiful lithographs).
Noir D'Ivoire's life and soul, owner Jill Fechtmann, is an invaluable resource – tap her immense insider knowledge of Marrakech and, depending on your interests, she’ll arm you with reams of information, mark up maps, explain how to tackle the souk, book impossible-to-get tables at buzzing restaurants, arrange transport and generally make you wonder how you would have coped without her.
As well as guided tours and trips up into the Atlas Mountains or down to Essaouira, Noir D’Ivoire loves tackling bespoke requests. Fancy a romantic picnic in the Ourika valley, or floating over the medina at sunset in a hot-air balloon, sipping champagne? Consider it done.
If you're lucky, Jill might get you the chance to have a drink or a meal at Ziwana Art Restaurant – definitely take up the offer, it's an extraordinary experience. Some 16 years in the making, and costing a quite astonishing number of millions of euros to complete, Ziwana is the vision of a Casablancan artist who has created an idiosyncratic style of high-art-fuelled architecture. Every fragment of tile, chair and detail of this cornucopia of craft has been dreamed up and created solely by him, creating an otherworldly sequence of bewildering courtyards, corridors, chambers, winding stairways, unexpected terraces and vertiginous balconies. Take Gaudí's Parc Güell, add Picasso's bold immediacy and MC Escher's intricate complexity, apply a Dalíesque transformation, and you've got Ziwana. Sort of. Trust us, you had to be there…
Originally a 1940s restaurant, La Maison Arabe (+212 (0)524 387010) is a hotel these days, but it’s still a quiet, grown-up spot for a Moroccan lunch: excellent stock-drenched couscous, fresh juices and coffee. Wander into Le Restaurant and pick a table in the courtyard or tucked away in the ante-room. There are several good dining options around Dar el Bacha, a couple of minutes’ walk from Noir D’Ivoire (staff can also recommend restaurants and book tables and transport for you, if you prefer to venture further).
In Pierre Balmain’s former house, Dar Moha (+212 (0)524 386400) cooks up a French fusion storm, with tagines and pastillas served alongside gratinated scallops and soufflés. Try to get a table in the walled garden; reservations essential. Follow the candelit stairs down to local institution Dar Marjana (+212 (0)524 385110), which provides all the fun of the fare, with dancers, musicians, and wave after wave of Moroccan food.
The Jardin Majorelle café (+212 (0)524 301852) occupies a chic little Bougainvillea-curtained walled garden, with sage-green Parisian-style metal chairs and tables (nb you'll still have to pay the Dhs30 entrance fee for the gardens to get in).
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Smith extra at Noir D'Ivoire
Two 30-minute massages or one 50-minute massage in the hotel's spa