The opulent, Moorish-inspired La Mamounia hotel in Marrakech elevates Moroccan style to radiant, royalty-worthy heights. Surrounded by cultivated gardens, this elegant palace – with its dramatic drapes and plush sofas – has earned nods of approval over the years from notable guests including Winston Churchill (who has a lavish suite named after him). A thorough refurbishment – modernising while paying homage to the past – called on luxury-lifestyle experts and award-winning chefs to up the pampering even further. You could spend days exploring the grounds, which house a huge glittering pool and ice-cream parlour alongisde several eateries and a profusion of palms. And, you could spend an equal amount of time in the enormous spa, which has hammams aplenty, saunas, salons and one of the grandest gilt-edged pools we've laid eyes on.
Get this when you book through us:
Free round-trip airport transfers from Marrakech airport
A total of 209, including 71 suites and three standalone riads.
Noon (flexible subject to availability and possibly a charge). Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $399.29 (MAD3,876), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of MAD49.50 per person per night on check-out.
Rates do not include the extraordinarily lavish buffet breakfast of home-made jams and pastries, fruit and juices, meats, and hot dishes (MAD410 an adult; MAD205 a child aged 2–12). On arrival, guests are welcomed with a tray of dates and almond milk.
Sweep through the hotel's boutique for elegant, handmade souvenirs. Splurge your dirhams on Berber-stitched handbags, olive oils and argan-laced products from a local collective, Barbara Rhil leather goods and bespoke fragrances. A haggle-free experience all-round. Come afternoon, take a sun-kissed stroll through the garden (admiring its more than 1,200 species of plants), where genteel tiers of cakes, sandwiches, pastries and house macarons are dished up at Le Menzeh's afternoon tea.
At the hotel
Gardens, expansive spa with hammams and twin beauty salons, gym, tennis courts, ping pong table, tea room, boutiques, library (including CDs and DVDs) and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, minibar, free bottled water, babouches and bespoke bath products by Olivia Giacobetti. Deluxe category rooms and higher have either a furnished terrace or balcony.
Our favourite rooms
Deluxe rooms (and all higher categories) have a private terrace. Book a Classic or Deluxe Room according to preferred view: Koutoubia Mosque, the gardens or the Atlas Mountains (of course, rooms on the higher floors have the best perspectives). The suites are stunning, but we have soft spots for two in particular. First up, the very English Churchill Suite: the prime minister’s favourite room, with a Chesterfield desk and distressed leather sofa. (Churchill’s hat and a sculpture of the PM himself are also permanent features.) For a more feminine feel, book the Baldaquin Suite; a romantic cream and white expanse with a king-size bed topped with a lavish canopy of ruched fabric. The suite also has a decadent but cosy sitting area and a balcony with garden views. Book a Suite or the Riad and enjoy additional in-room treats: fresh flowers, fruit, pastries, Moroccan wine and champagne.
Set amid the gardens and flanked by palm trees, the vast (650sq m) and glittering pool is decorated with fish-scale tiles. There are plenty of places to perch by the side and a smaller hot tub to soak in. Breakfast is served here in the morning and by night, lanterns make it a lovely spot for clinking champagne flutes. Alternatively head to the photogenic indoor spa pool; gilded columns and grand ogee arches surround the elaborately tiled looker, and there's a swim-up day-bed for posing on.
La Mamounia's Zellige-tiled, Majorelle blue-splashed and tadelakt spa is a cavernous space offering each and every treatment you could wish for. There are his and hers hammams, and a private one for couples to book exclusively, saunas, beauty salons, both a barbers and hairdressers… All of your primping, preening and pampering needs are met, and there's a petite spa within the spa (with its own hammam, treatment rooms and plunge pool) if you don't want any other guests cramping your style. If you want your massage alfresco, no problem, there are beds under open pavilions which can be curtained off for privacy. Marinade in moisturising rhassoul mud, be slathered in soothing argan oil or be scrubbed with sugar and seeds. To come and go as you please, acquire a day pass for MAD500.
Kaftans, Cavalli and couture.
The hotel's resident cat colony is well cared for; each of the floofy residents has regular check-ups and they're all quite used to human visitors.
Smith Junior is welcome. Extra beds (MAD950 a night for children under the age of 12) and free cots are available. Babysitting with a local nanny can be arranged for MAD150 an hour (request upon booking). Under-16s cannot use the hotel's spa.
Little Smiths of all ages are welcome.
The Executive Suite and Deluxe Rooms interconnect, so are ideal for families.
There’s plenty here to keep kids happy: two tennis courts, outdoor ping pong table, flower-packed gardens and a large outdoor pool.
The pool is supervised by a lifeguard (7am–8pm in summer; 9am–5pm in winter). Bring your own inflatables and arm-bands as the hotel doesn’t provide any.
Children are welcome in the restaurants and staff will happily heat up baby food and milk.
Local nannies cost Dh100 per hour – arrange when booking.
No need to pack
The hotel has a stash of child-friendly video games and DVDs for little ones to borrow.
Smith Junior is bound to fall in love with Le Menzeh, the poolside hut stocked with home-made ice-creams and cakes.
Fresh, organic produce is plucked from the hotel’s vegetable garden; solar power is used.
Eat out on L’Italien’s terrace by candlelight. On chiller nights at Le Français, tables close to the window are ideal. Grab a table with a full Atlas Mountain vista at Le Marocain; as close to the pool as possible at Le Pav
Beach glam (denim and silks will do) for Le Pavillon de la Piscine – of course, if you’d rather don something fabulous, you’ll be in good company. When it comes to the remaining restaurants, ‘glamour, glamour, glamour’ is the mantra.
La Mamounia has four acclaimed restaurants. Le Français is slightly more formal: marble columns, oversized lampshades and swathes of heavy fabric. L’Italien is moodier, with low lighting and rich ruby, claret and aubergine hues. Alternatively, crunch along the soft gravel path that leads to Le Marocain, where local cuisine is served to the tune of live Moroccan music, or feast on shared platters poolside at the laid-back Le Pavillon de la Piscine. Sweet-tooths will love Le Menzeh, a little hut in the gardens that serves up sugary delicacies such as macaroons and home-made ice-cream cornets. Breakfast and brunch are eye-widening affairs – a whole room with stations for different delicacies, breads, pastries, meats and cheeses, fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereals, fish and much more, and a chef cooking fresh eggs at your behest.
Each restaurant has a bar area to match: Le Bar Italien is a stylish setting for martinis, Le Bar Pavillon de la Piscine is a shaded spot with the pool in reach and Le Bar Marocain comes into its own at night – sit on the rooftop with a pre-dinner cocktail and admire the Atlas Mountains. Then there’s the tiled Majorelle esplanade, where mint tea and cognac can be enjoyed with the sound of the water fountains trickling in the background (and, if you’re lucky, the thrum of the Moroccan guitar). If sultry piano playing is more your thing, hit the rouged, low-lit Churchill bar, where jazz plays late into the night.
Dinner is dished up between 7pm and 11pm; drinks are served at the bar from 11am–1am.
The 24-hour room service includes options from the restaurant menus.
Marrakech Menara Airport is a 15-minute drive away.
Marrakech station is 10 minutes away by car, with an ONCF service connecting to Casablanca, Rabat, Fes and Tanguer (www.oncf.ma).
Rather than being burdened with a car, it makes far more sense to rely on the hotel transfers and taxis – the hotel is perfectly placed for exploring Marrakech’s main sights, and this is best done on foot (no cars are allowed in the Medina).
Worth getting out of bed for
Wannabe Nadals should take to the hotel’s clay courts. International tennis champion Henri Leconte hosts international tournaments at the hotel throughout the year; so you may be playing in the presence of greatness. If the courts are in use, stake out the ping pong table. Ask La Mamounia to organise some excursions for you: options include hot-air ballooning in the Atlas Mountains, golfing, a tour of Berber villages or personal shopping. Natural wonders include the Ourika or Ouirgane valleys, the Lalla Takerkoust Dam or Oualidia Coast; or ask the hotel to whisk you further away, to Essaouria, Casablanca or Fez. Closer to your new home, two of Marrakech’s most famous sights – Koutoubia Mosque and Djemaa el Fna – are only a five-minute walk away from the hotel. Wander into Djemaa el Fna at night to admire the acrobats and snake-charmers and sample local cuisine from the bustling food stalls.
Dar Moha (+212 (0)524 386400) at 81 rue Dar el Bacha serves up aromatic Franco-Moroccan cuisine: alongside well-balanced tajines and pastilla, there are fusion dishes such as baked scallops and saffron sorbet. Request a table in the walled garden by the pool (reservations are essential). Eat in splendour at Dar Yacout (+212 (0)524 382929) at 79 rue Sidi Ahmed Soussi, Arset Ihiri. This gorgeously grand restaurant has entertained the king of Spain and Will Smith (but not together) so dress to impress. The tasting menu costs €70 a head, including drinks. Be sure to visit Le Fondouk (+212 (0)524 378190) at 55 Souk Hal Fassi, Kat Bennahïd. Dining here is an adventure, from start – being guided down a dusty alley to your table by men in cloaks bearing lanterns – to finish.
Sitting pretty upon grand leather sofas in Mamounia’s candlelit Jacques Garcia-designed lobby, sipping cool glasses of almond milk and nibbling dates, I rather wished all hotel check-in experiences could be so otherworldly. As Mr Smith passed on details about how I, Mrs Smith, would like the next morning’s Royal Hamman spa treatment, my suitcases vamooshed by a troop of robed fez-wearing bellboys, I lounged in a pleasant fug (Mamounia’s signature scent was created by world-renowned perfumier, Olivia Giacobetti), watching European high-society meander past and idly speculating whether the bijoux Gucci outlet did those pumps in their size.
Marble pillars, bold red and white lanterns, vases laden with fresh flowers and a water fountain sprinkled with petals… A weekend spent in the lobby with just a Moroccan throw to snuggle, waiter-service Moroccan-rose deliveries from the nearby Churchill Bar would have been a sublime holiday on its own. Mr Smith, ever orthodox, insisted we explore the rooms.
In the Moorish-style boudoirs, you can't help but want to touch the furnishings: studded leather headboards in orange, purple and beige, hand-painted wooden doors, thick rugs and throws from the Atlas Mountains. We stayed on Mamounia’s first floor in a room luxurious, ornate and passionately Moroccan, hand-crafted mashrabiya shutters, cool white linen, stucco’d bathroom, vivid, lovingly laid tilework.
As Mr Smith ran a deep bath, availing himself of the sumptuous booty of Mamounia toiletries, I dealt with the diligent squad of housekeeping staff determined to bring gifts. My first instinct was to flip the Do Not Disturb sign, but after the fresh cherries, the still-warm cupcakes and the windblown peaches, I made an executive decision that being ‘bothered’ was rather lovely.
Now, as Mr Smith bathed, I retired to our large balcony overlooking neatly pruned gardens with a copy of Vogue and a large G&T. Distant call-to-prayer cries and the whispery buzz mopeds reminded me that Friday night medina in Marrakech was within strolling distance. After darkness we drifted down to Le Bar Italien and installed ourselves on the decadent saffron-velvet chairs, squeaking with delight that not only were we allowed to smoke a cigarette indoors, like back in the olden days when the pair of us met, but the staff were delighted to fetch packets on a silver tray.
Several wholly elegant flutes of champagne and half a dozen lobby-pianist cover-songs later, we slinked into Mamounia’s Baroque interior Italian restaurant for a pricey yet perfect feast of spaghetti don alfonso, langoustines, zucchini ravioli and slices of sweet chocolate pizza. A word of warning: don’t visit Mamounia with someone you’re ‘quite fond of’ if you don’t want to fall in love. There’s something in the signature scented air here that makes it rather unavoidable…
Do, however, go with someone who loves you for your curves – the poolside breakfast buffet is dreamlike in its scope and setting. We took a table at 9am, surrounded by resting European footballers and WAGs, plump diplomats and well-heeled families, then let the squadron of staff bring coffee, newspapers and iced water. We ate porridge with fresh pomegranate, freshly cooked eggs Florentine from the walk-up kitchen, too many pastries and fruit from the gardens near to where we sat.
After breakfast, Mr Smith and I made a half-hearted nod towards exercise by wandering in the grounds through orange trees, watching tennis matches being elegantly slugged out by residents far more energetic than us. We also got to the bottom of where our vegetables had been sourced from the night before, with a whirl around Mamounia’s private gardens. Jannah, the Islamic concept of paradise, starts with a garden, and so did La Mamounia, which began life as royal flower-filled grounds; a gorgeous gift from a sultan to his son. Today this eight-hectare haven is planted with 700-year-old olive and fruit trees and vivid, perfumed blooms, tended to daily by 30 gardeners.
Fringed by palm trees, the turquoise pool is as regal as the rest, decorated with shimmering fish-scale tiles, surrounded by a neat cavalry of spotless white sun loungers. Exquisitely kept, the pool area is soothingly silent with a discreet army of staff who will check your expression for evidence of ‘want’. While Mr Smith front-crawled off some of the past-24 hours excesses, I curled up on a white lounger with a novel, preparing myself for my afternoon hamman purge in the world-class spa.
Mr Smith and I signed up to take our steam-and-scrub together, fighting off fits of giggles as we were handed small paper pants and each enlisted a masseur and whisked off to separate saunas. My masseuse was a glorious small, squashy Moroccan lady clad in an all in one black swimming costume and flip flops then scrubbed every inch of me, forehead to toes, then moisturised before returning me to Mr Smith for massages.
Giddy and slightly reborn post-hammam, Mr Smith and I left Mamounia for a whirlwind Saturday night in the ancient medina featuring strong coffee, snakes, some dancing and meetings with various local eccentrics, with the obligatory Cafe Arabe stop-off. Our final day was spent restoratively by the pool, drinking mint tea and eating baklava waiting for one of Mamounia’s Jaguars to take us to Menara airport. Mamounia has its own private room in Menara, for those who find meeting the public frightful. It certainly was a drag leaving Marrakech, but this Mr and Mrs Smith know that one day they’ll be back. After all, after opening in 1923, it was soon Churchill’s stay of choice; he called it ‘the most beautiful place in the world’. Who are we to argue?
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in La Mamounia’s Guestbook below.
I loved everything.
Stayed on 2 May 2019
Everything. Fabulous staff and food and the rooms and decor. Gardens are magnificent and the spa top rate.
Loud music. Cheap eats.
Stayed on 4 Feb 2019
Stayed on 19 Nov 2018
We loved the amazing Moroccan architecture of the building and the pool facilities.
Stayed on 7 Jun 2018
We loved the whole atmosphere at the hotel, the luxury, the amazing gardens and the huge swimming pool as well as the restaurants. The distance to Jemma Al Fna was only a five minute walk through the gardens outside to the mosque and so it was easy to walk there. Also an easy 10 min walk to the Kasbah. I had an excellent massage in the spa. All in all an extremely enjoyable experience. Le Grand Cafe de la Poste in the Hiverna district. Great French food and atmosphere.
Lots of children running around – there were very few, which was nice.
Stayed on 19 Mar 2018
La Mamounia is a 5-star refuge from the hustle and bustle of the Medina. The service is excellent and each element of the hotel showcases Moroccan craftsmanship which was just what we were looking for. The gardens are vast and pretty with views of the Atlas mountains as a backdrop, and there is a quaint ice cream pavilion positioned at the bottom of the main pathway perfect for an afternoon treat. After a morning shopping at the souks, an afternoon relaxing at the outdoor pool was welcome.
A boutique feel, this is a large luxurious hotel but still has a feeling of calm and tranquility.
Stayed on 27 Feb 2018
The entire experience was unforgettable.
Don't expect much from the spa. Far too expensive for what it's worth.
Stayed on 25 Feb 2018
Anything less than luxury.
Stayed on 24 Feb 2018
Very smooth pick-up from the airport – we were whisked away in a new Range Rover. The hotel is beautifully appointed with superb Islamic decoration – tiles, fountains, carving etc – but not gaudy. Staff are very helpful and friendly. Beautiful heated outdoor pool, and spectacular grounds – breakfast by the pool was lovely. High-point – somehow they discovered it was my birthday. When we returned to our room in the evening there was a table laid with a bottle of excellent champagne and a delicious chocoloate cake! Beat that! Enjoyed dinner at 'La Maison Arabe'
Probably not ideal for families – though there were a couple of familes with young children.
Stayed on 16 Feb 2018
The indoor and outdoor pools are lovely, as are the gardens.
Peace and quiet. The hotel allows many visitors to enjoy the grounds through a day pass or spa booking. It can be very busy and noisy.
Stayed on 2 Jan 2018
Decadent interiors; warm, welcoming hospitality and customer service; beautiful gardens; the Moroccan mint tea; the luxurious spa.
Cheap and budget friendly.
Stayed on 25 Nov 2017
The hotel, the grounds, the pool, the staff and the lobby bar.
Stayed on 20 Nov 2017
The gardens and the poolside breakfast buffet.
To sleep beyond 5.15 am. The amplified muezzin nearby will wake all but the unconscious!
Stayed on 15 Nov 2017
The pool! La Mamounia is very well located, just take a walk to the medina where you can enjoy more food and entertainment options!