On the edge of up-market Palmeraie, just outside the bustle of Marrakech, the opulent Palais Namaskar hotel takes cues from the Chinese doctrine of feng shui in the design details of its spacious suites and palaces. This sprawling, Oetker-managed boutique resort pulls out all the stops, from a seriously luxurious spa to flawless, anything-you-wish service. The sprawling grounds have numerous nooks for privacy while the glamorous restaurant and bar play host to a stylish, see-and-be-seen crowd.
11am, but this is flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $338.12 (€305), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.60 per person per night on check-out.
Round trip airport transfers included from the Junior Suite category of room.
At the hotel
Concierge, laundry, library, CD/ DVD/music library, parking, swimming pool, free WiFi throughout, spa and gym. In rooms: Flatscreen TV, DVD player (integrated with TV), CD player, iPod docking station, WiFi, drinks cabinet. 24-hour butler service with the Villa Namaskar.
Our favourite rooms
Even the lowest-category Superior abodes scream ‘VIP’: the taupe-toned superior, lounge and deluxe rooms open onto terraces bigger than the size of their indoor space, some backing onto a communal water feature, others onto the stunning main pool with terraces hosting outdoor baths. The four categories of suite, promise even more privacy: we especially like the six Desert Modernism-evoking Pool Villas with their sprawling gardens and heated swimming pools cradled by huge harmony ponds – that’s right, they have two pools each.
The elegant, heated 320sq m outdoor pool may seem too beautiful to believe you’re invited to splash around in it. But you are. And the large day beds dotted under the stunning stone arches are there to remind guests that they're here to relax.
Luxury kaftans and silk sarongs.
Le Spa Namaskar offers luxurious Aromatherapy Associates treatments from its six sultry terrace rooms, including two couple-worthy spa suites with spectacular hammams. There’s also as a state-of-the art gym and a beauty salon.
Holidays here will feel like honeymoons for all the family. Parents of active children who want to run around with less care for the fantastic tranquility, may want to leave the hotel to those with babies or teens. The charge for extra beds is €100.
In the day, overlooking the main pool. By night, inside is sultry and elegant and no seat is a dud.
Something floaty by Christian Dior or Chanel.
A pocket of urbane Parisian elegance, Le Namaskar is resplendent with huge specially commissioned Murano chandeliers; the gourmet restaurant invites you to taste the high life figuratively and literally with Moroccan, Asian and Mediterranean dishes fit for food snobs.
No stay here is complete without a roof-terrace sunset cocktail and a dabble with the delicately flavoured shisha at No Mad Bar. Top tipples? Atlas Old-Fashioned (Old Overhault rye, Kummel liqueur, Peychaud’s bitters), Mojito Royal (Le même complete au champagne). For Mariage Frères teas and gourmet sweet treats, pause fireside in the stylish lobby bar, Espace T.
Private dining is tempting when every suite and villa has a glorious terrace. Order from a range of international and Moroccan-inspired starters, main courses and desserts.
Menara Airport is about 30 minutes' drive away. The hotel has its own private Dassault Falcon jet which seats 14 passengers and can be hired to fly nonstop from any airport around the world directly to Marrakech or chartered just for the 30-miute flight from Casablanca to Marrakech.
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 air-conditioning in summer. From the station, it's around 10 minutes by car to the hotel.
Driving in Marrakech can be horn-filled and hectic – you may prefer to sign up for a whirl in the hotel’s own air-conditioned luxury chauffeur-driven Range Rovers.
Worth getting out of bed for
Let the concierge arrange a host of excursions from biking to hot-air ballooning, as well as camel and horse riding. Golfers, there are three golf courses within 15 minutes' drive. Say the word and they’ll coordinate an in-the-know museum guide or shopping tour of the Medina. The hotel's located in the peaceful Palmeraie, so head into the city for restaurants, bars and bustle. Check our our full Marrakech guide for detailed recommendations.
The butler near curtseyed out of our palatial villa and Mrs Smith and I looked at each other, smiled the wide-eyed giddy grins of jackpot winners and then discretely high-fived. Then I went running wildly around the compound on fast-forward like Macaulay Culkin when he first realises he is home alone. Mrs Smith did not do this. Instead she popped the champagne, firing the cork into our private swimming pool which itself was surrounded by a mini lake (feng shui dictates that one huge cool pool is the yin to a smaller heated pool’s yang) in our private walled garden. We could have cavorted around completely in the nuddy if we’d wanted. And maybe we did. (We didn’t.)
There are five-star hotels and then there are five-star hotels. Palais Namaskar is a constellation of ridiculous luxury. It comprises 41 suites spread extensively across 12 acres of Balinese-inspired water gardens. Which is bit weird because it’s actually 20 minutes outside Marrakech, on a site that used to be a weekend crashpad for a member of the Kuwaiti royal family.
The place opened as a hotel in April 2012, and has since won a clutch of awards. It is a sister Oetker-managed property to Le Bristol in Paris and Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc where all the A-listers stay during Cannes Film Festival – which is to say, its parents are epically loaded. We were staying in one of six pool suites, but the three separate palaces – previously the Kuwaiti prince’s guest rooms – offer even swisher accommodation.
Check in here and experience how the other half-a-per-cent live. Guests can even commandeer a 14-seat Dassault Falcon private jet. We mulled it over but decided on balance not to remortgage our house. (As we tried to discreetly remove the easyJet tags from our luggage by pointing ‘look over there’ at a hammock slung between two towering palm trees.)
The palace is designed on a grand scale; everything is far bigger than it needs to be, as if built for giants. Or royalty. The beds by the pool could easily fit four private jetsetters, for example. Bespoke Murano glass chandeliers dangle from ceiling to floor. Dome roofs are painted gold. And why not? When in doubt, go for gold. I spent the entire first day Instagramming the bejesus out of everything until one of my friends back home in the London drizzle commented: ‘OK, enough now. #annoying.’ He had a point.
We dressed up for dinner for we correctly assumed that is what we should do. When we emerged from our villa the walkways that crisscrossed the shallow lakes had been candlelit with lanterns. Mrs Smith was wearing her highest heels and had had that bubbly and very nearly tottered into the water.
A central pavilion houses the hotel’s glamorous restaurant and main bar both of which were abuzz. Above, is the roof terrace bar where we sipped Cosmoroccans – mint-infused vodka with a twist of lemon and more vodka – and drank in panoramic views towards the glowing city of Marrakech in one direction beyond the stretch of desert, and the darkening silhouette of the Atlas Mountains in the other.
After the sun had finally set we took a table down below on the atmospherically lit terrace overlooking the hotel’s impressive main pool and listened to the soundtrack of thrumming wildlife and chillax beats. You can, if you so wish, have dinner anywhere on the estate – a picnic in the gardens, or on your own private patio, for example.
The chef, a protégé of Michelin man Alain Ducasse, is big on fusing French and Moroccan cuisines. Each dish was a work of fussy art – very pretty, very tasty, although not very warm. I had Moroccan salads followed by sea bass tagine and then the chef’s signature chocolate dome.
After dinner the mercury had predictably dropped so we summoned the butler to light the log fire in our sitting room and open that bottle of red for us. Then we discreetly pulled a curtain on the rest of the evening.
The following morning, to work off all the previous day’s excess and clean the slate for another onslaught of decadence, I felt I should do some exercise in the ludicrously well-equipped gym that rivalled a Bond villain’s lair. I bounded out the gym to see some staff harvesting the black olives from the orchard in the grounds. So I picked one from a tree and popped it in my mouth. My face caved in with the bitterness.
I returned, still wincing, to find Mrs Smith back from yoga and reading her Kindle in a hammock while waiting for her treatment in the hotel’s celebrated orange-blossom-fragranced Guerlain spa. Hey, life is tough. She had a manicure-pedicure while I pondered the entire array of treatments until choosing the same option I always go for: a massage. As back rubs go – and believe me, I’m now a connoisseur – this one was right up there with the best.
There’s plenty to do at Palais Namaskar – we just opted not to do any of it. The toughest decision we had to make was which pool to lie next to. However, the hotel’s bespoke ‘experience book’ offers everything from trekking in the High Atlas and desert sleepovers to guided tours of the medina to Moroccan cookery classes – if you can bear to leave the property. The only time we did was to drive the 20 minutes into Marrakech for dinner on the second night, chauffeured each way for free in a slick 4WD Merc, as arranged by our butler.
Palais Namaskar hotel and spa in Marrakech is undeniably soothing, perhaps thanks to the Parisian owner Philippe Soulier having ensured the Far East philosophy of feng shui guided every element. Landscaped to perfection, there’s a discreet nod to the five elements, fire, earth, metal, wood and water, whatever direction you look in. When planning its white-marble magnificence and elegant waterways of these private Palmeraie palaces, the Frenchman played architect and astrologer working in cahoots with renowned interior designer Imaad Rahmouni, the French-Algerian apprentice of Philippe Starck. Little wonder then that the suites and communal areas have been lavished with kilometres of custom-made soft furnishings and furnished with statement pieces such as Hermès-finished B&B Italia chairs.
Scrolling back through my Instagram photos, we really did have a brilliant couple of days of pure unadulterated bliss. If I were to sum up Palais Namaskar in two words, one of them would be a profanity and the next ‘opulent’.
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 Palais Namaskar’s Guestbook below.
The service! All the staff without exception were warm, attentive and helpful, without being "in your face". Our flight was 5 hours late but the driver was standing in arrivals looking out for us, friendly and helpful. We also loved the environment. Our junior suite was wonderful, with a lovely terrace and jacuzzi. The hotel grounds are stunning and impeccably maintained, and the food was very good. The pool area was lovely. Highly recommended by me and my daughter!
Buzzing nightlife, activity or anything walkable from the hotel.