Marrakech, Morocco

Dar Darma

Price per night from$276.02

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (MAD2,781.82), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Mod Moroccan maximalism

Setting

Middle of the Medina

Dar Darma cuts such a discreet figure on its quiet Medina side street that even seasoned local cabbies struggle to find it, despite a location that’s within easy walking distance of most of Marrakech’s main attractions. But find it you must, if only to experience its leafy roof terrace, where views of terracotta-tiled Medina rooftops, Koutoubia Mosque and the undulating peaks of the Atlas Mountains really put the drama in Darma. Take a dip in the plunge pool and recline on cushioned day-beds sipping refreshing mint tea from decorative Moroccan silverware. Airy interiors with checkerboard floors, spacious air-conditioned suites, a hammam, and a tranquil courtyard fountain fringed by the swaying fronds of great potted ferns provide further opportunities for cooling off in the midday sun.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A welcome with Moroccan tea and babouches (leather slippers) in your room to take home; GoldSmiths also get a meal for two

Facilities

Photos Dar Darma facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Six airy Moroccan-style suites.

Check–Out

10am. Check-in is at 12 noon, but both are flexible if suites are available. Guests are free to leave bags at reception and make use of all the communal areas while they wait.

Prices

Double rooms from £239.88 (MAD3,060), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of MAD27.25 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates include a daily breakfast of pastries, cakes and pancakes, yoghurt, fruit and homemade jams, plus fresh juices, teas and coffees. Breakfast can be served wherever you like: the roof terrace, lounge areas, courtyard, or in your suite.

At the hotel

Hammam, rooftop terrace with pool, free WiFi. In rooms: satellite TV, free bottled water, air-conditioning.

Our favourite rooms

The riad’s maximalist Moroccan grandeur is writ large inside opulent suites, where carved antique furnishings in dark woods and decorative Moroccan lamps set the scene. For sheer luxury, the Red Suite is hard to beat. We’re talking showy red-and-gold interiors, arched doorways that seem hewn into the very fabric of the building, and a cavernous living room complete with hand-painted wooden ceilings and a fireplace flanked by great urn-like Moroccan vases and comfortably worn-looking leather sofas and armchairs. Bring your friends – even the master bathroom is big enough for four.

Poolside

Warmed by the morning sun, the riad’s rooftop plunge pool is a fine place to relax with a refreshing mint tea before a sneaky post-lunch siesta in the shade. Or head there for aperitivo hour and linger till the sun goes down – it's quite a show.

Spa

The riad’s traditional hammam with black-and-white-tiled floors is lit by Moroccan lamps and candles. Local products including argan oil and black soap are used in massage and facial treatments. The maximum occupancy is four people at a time and four hours’ notice is required.

Packing tips

From the rooms to the rooftop, Dar Darma is a photographer’s dream, so you’ll want to bust out your best camera equipment to capture your stay here in all its palatial glory. For inspo on what to snap outside the riad – from the souks to the Saadian Tombs – pack a copy of celebrated travel writer Peter Mayne’s evocative 1950s journal A Year in Marrakech.

Also

Ask to borrow a mat at reception if you fancy busting a few yoga moves on the rooftop at sunrise.

Pet‐friendly

Pets are welcome at the riad, though Marrakech itself isn’t a particularly dog-friendly city. A nightly charge of €33 applies for four-legged guests. See more pet-friendly hotels in Marrakech.

Children

Extra beds can be added in larger suites and a babysitting service is available at an hourly rate of €30. Please book at least 24 hours in advance.

Food and Drink

Photos Dar Darma food and drink

Top Table

Dining on the rooftop terrace with moonlit views of the Medina and mountains is hard to beat.

Dress Code

Your best swimwear for lazy afternoons by the rooftop pool; bold prints, cool linens and floaty dresses for alfresco dining on sultry summer evenings.

Hotel restaurant

Traditional Moroccan dishes including pastilla, lemon chicken and tagines are on the menu at La Table Dar Darma, with meals served in the courtyard, on the rooftop, in the lounges or in the privacy of your own suite. All ingredients are sourced from the Marrakech markets and a menu of Moroccan specialities normally reserved for celebrations is also available on request. Lunch is served from 12 noon until 2pm, and dinner from 6pm until 10pm.

Hotel bar

Keep yourself well hydrated in hot weather with spiced cocktails, fine Moroccan wines and fragrant teas from the hotel bar. A variety of local snacks is available to soak it all up. Open 10am–10pm.

Last orders

Both restaurant and bar stay open until 10pm.

Room service

You can order meals, snacks and drinks to your suite between 9am and 10pm.

Location

Photos Dar Darma location
Address
Dar Darma
11/12 Trik Sidi Bohuarba
Medina
40000
Morocco

Dar Darma is squirrelled away on a cobbled side street in the medina’s ancient El Moukef neighbourhood, a 15-minute stroll from the sensory saturnalia that is Djemaa El Fna, Marrakech’s mesmerising main square.

Planes

Menara International Airport is a 20-minute drive from the riad. Private transfers are available on request and cost €25 one-way; transfers for stays of three nights or more are free.

Trains

Also around 20 minutes away, Marrakech train station connects the city to Casablanca, Rabat, Fez and other destinations. Transfers are again free for stays of more than three nights, or €20 otherwise.

Automobiles

Even the most experienced Marrakech cabbie may baulk at squeezing their pride and joy down the tiny narrow street on which Dar Darma is located. Perpetually heavy traffic around the centre also means you might be better off experiencing the city on foot. However, you can rent a car at the airport should you so wish. Parking is available at a garage just round the corner from Dar Darma.

Worth getting out of bed for

You don’t have to look far for things to do when staying at Dar Darma. The riad kitchen, for a start, where chef/wizard Maria hosts regular cooking classes (at 11.30am, Monday to Friday, for €60 a person) in which you’ll learn to prepare a Moroccan feast – think fragrant harira soup, spicy tagines and zesty lemon cake – before scoffing the lot over a sociable lunch with your new budding Bourdain buddies – and you'll get a gift to take home, too. No-one will think any less of you if, instead of heading out for a spot of sightseeing afterwards, you opt to slink off to the hammam or take a mint-tea digestif by the rooftop pool. But if you can bear to exit this tranquil Moroccan mansion, there’s an absolute treasure trove of things to do within a few short strides.

Book Dar Darma’s personal shopper for a trip to the labyrinthine network of souks in and around Djemaa El Fna, Marrakech’s carnivalesque main square. It’s here, under your guide’s expert eye, that you can unleash your best haggling game and exit triumphantly wielding bargain armfuls of aromatic saffron, handwoven Berber rugs, delicate silverware and unique Moroccan jewellery. Or, you know, go it alone and risk being relieved of several thousand dirhams for a garishly embroidered kaftan you didn’t want, don’t need and most definitely won’t wear. The choice is entirely yours.

Get your culture fix at the Museum of Marrakech, just a couple of minutes’ walk from Dar Darma. Spend an awestruck moment in this flamboyant former palace’s interior courtyard, where floors, pillars and fountains are adorned with thousands of vibrant zellij tiles, and a massive geometric brass chandelier with arabesque motifs forms the spaceship-like centrepiece. Then head to the museum galleries for further Moroccan marvels including weapons and armour, ornate Berber jewellery and colourful Fez pottery.

Staff at Dar Darma can also organise excursions for the outdoorsy thrillseeker. On the menu: hot-air ballooning, quad biking along the shores of Lalla Takerkoust lake and camping beneath starry desert skies, all sure to make for way more engaging postcard content than that insincere old chestnut, ‘wish you were here’.

Local restaurants

A short walk west past the mediaeval architectural marvel that is the Ben Youseff Madrasa brings you to Le Jardin. The clue’s in the name here: the most sought-after tables at this Marrakech institution are to be found in its garden area, a frenzy of foliage and hanging vines tucked away behind the walls of a 16th-century mansion just off Djemaa El Fna. While the name may be French, the food is resolutely Moroccan, with great platefuls of mezze, chicken pastilla and belt-loosening tagines on the menu.

Chequered marble floors, a grand central staircase, art deco motifs and gently rotating ceiling fans lend a touch of old-time Casablanca glamour to proceedings at Le Grand Café de la Poste. Marrakech’s in-crowd gather for cocktail hour in the early evening, sipping French martinis beneath palm fronds on the balcony, while diners gorge on glorious gallic fare including steak tartare, baked camembert and grilled St Jacques scallops. There’s also an excellent selection of fine French and Moroccan wines to work your way through.

Local cafés

Grab a good book and mosey on over to Dar Cherifa in the Medina’s Mouassine district. While away the hours over Arabic coffee and moist almond cake in the sleepy courtyard of this restored 16th-century residence, with its carved beams, ancient stucco mouldings and big comfy sofas tucked into peaceful nooks. Time it just right and you might even catch the occasional small concert or art exhibition here.

Café des Épices and Café de France jockey for pole position as the finest spot for sunset views over the Medina rooftops, each with a leafy terrace that feels far from the madding souks. Visit both and make up your own mind over refreshing mint teas and zesty lemon verbenas.

Local bars

The maze-like nature of the Medina’s cobbled streets mean no apparently short walk is ever really that straightforward unless you’re possessed of preternatural navigation skills. Weave your way west to Kabana, just off Djemaa El Fna, for Marrakech’s premier rooftop experience. We’re talking glorious sunset views of the Medina and a cocktail list that includes Jim Beam mixed with lemon juice, sugar and argan oil and an aromatic Lavender Fizz. The walk here takes about 15 minutes; the walk back after a few too many Kopakabana Saffrons… considerably longer.

We recommend taking the 15-minute cab ride to and from Le Baromètre rather than attempting the journey on foot. This Prohibition Era-style speakeasy features a cavalcade of decorative jars behind the bar, each crammed with colourful spices destined for your drink. Expect unique and unusual concoctions that would no doubt have blown the mind of even the most seasoned illegal imbiber in 1920s America.

Reviews

Photos Dar Darma reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this lavish boutique riad in Marrakech and unpacked their hard-won stash of rugs, lanterns, oils and spices from the souks, a full account of their adventure in this Red City riad will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Dar Darma in the Marrakech Medina…

The enigmatic iron door on an unassuming cobbled street does little to prepare you for what’s inside Dar Darma, a restored 18th-century Medina mansion with six sensational suites that just beg to be booked out by large families or groups of friends. Maximalist Moroccan interiors feature ornate arches that soar towards lofty ceilings, bold colour schemes that are complemented by plush velvets and worn leathers and more thriving plantlife than your average garden centre. Atmospheric low-lighting picks out the fine details in carved antique furniture and flickering candlelight is reflected in decorative iron-framed mirrors and the polished surfaces of silver tea-sets. Guests can expect all the seclusion of a private villa (with its own hammam and rooftop pool, natch) combined with hotel-style service and friendly, attentive staff.

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Price per night from $276.02