Tremendous terracotta palace turned hotel Selman – just outside Marrakech – offers glamorous guests a sprawling Henri Chenot spa, rooms with French designer flair (adroitly designed by architect Jacques Garcia), a palm-tree-flanked Olympic-size swimming pool and Arabian horse shows with 16 purebred horses. There’s been no expense spared in adorning this decadent destination hotel with skillfully crafted Moroccan trappings, but an art nouveau sensibility and an eye for detail ensure elegance trumps gilded gaudiness.
Get this when you book through us:
A champagne cocktail and a guided tour of Selman's stables to see their herd of Arabian horses
Sixty, including five suites and five luxurious villas.
Noon, late check-out is available up to 6pm for 50 per cent of the room rate, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm, but flexible subject to availability.
Double rooms from £318.72 (€381), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.50 per person per night on check-out.
Breakfast isn’t usually included in the room rate; a Continental breakfast is MAD220 a guest and an American buffet is MAD320.
Selman's Arabian horses are their pride and joy – and they are handsome beasts to behold. The hotel has luxurious stables (also the work of Jacques Garcia) and five grassy paddocks where guests can watch the horses frolic. Alongside the show at Sunday brunch, it's possible to book a private show at breakfast or dinner.
At the hotel
Spa, paddocks, stables, landscaped gardens, gym (personal-training sessions available), library and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV and minibar. Villas have private heated swimming pools, a garden and a personal butler.
Our favourite rooms
With monochrome mosaic tiles, burnt siena-coloured furnishings and the Atlas Mountains framed in your window, the 120sq m Suite is one of the most regal in the hotel. Be sure to order breakfast in your room, sit on the low chairs by the window and watch the ponies prance in the show at the Andalusian Pavilion. If a suite stretches just beyond your budget, the Superior rooms showcase old-school glamour, with cream and aubergine colour schemes, mosaic-tiled bathrooms and discreetly hidden tech.
Three. The main 80-metre infinity pool – lined with Guatemalan marble – runs through a gauntlet of neat rows of palm trees and day-beds, with views of the tree-framed hotel and the landscaped grounds. The spa has two heated pools: one surrounded by white arches and a black day-bed filled gallery, and a 20sq m outdoor pool with a Jacuzzi.
The 1,200sq m Henri Chenot spa is theatrically decorated, with pierced metal chandeliers, oxblood and aubergine Zellige tiles and Majorelle blue doors, and a central heated pool. There are seven treatment rooms (including one for couples), four hydrotherapy rooms, plunge pool, hammam, gym, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, hairdresser, barber and a boutique. Treatments include massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, and light therapy and mud wraps in the medi-spa. Specialist spa journeys run from three, to five, to seven days – an excellent excuse to top up the number of nights you're staying for.
You can’t ride the blue-blooded stallions on-site, but there’s plenty of horsing about on site. Pack some sturdy riding boots for saddling up, but don’t worry if you forget; the souks stock suitable attire.
The hotel has two ground-floor Deluxe Rooms suitable for disabled guests; however, public areas are not wheelchair accessible.
Dogs and cats under 3 kilogrammes can stay; beds and bowls are provided. Pets can stay in all room categories, but are not allowed in the restaurant or pool area. See more pet-friendly hotels in Marrakech.
There's a candy-coloured kids' club for 4–12 year olds. Baby cots and extra beds (free for under-4s, MAD600 for over-4s) can be added to all room types. Babysitting is MAD150 an hour and must be booked 24 hours in advance.
Spend summer lunchtimes sitting at the edge of the Pavilion restaurant to watch equestrian acrobatics. In the evening, get snug by the fireplace in Selman Restaurant.
Confident Versace-style va va voom. Zhuzh up your hair, brave your skintight white jeans and let Mr T be your jewellery spirit guide.
Le Selman Restaurant is a cavernous, charcoal-grey, Caliph-charming banquet hall with garden views and plenty of pageantry, with heavy purple drapes, gold fringing, chandeliers and plump padded banquettes. There’s a fireplace upstairs, outdoor seating on the terrace, and a suitably sophisticated menu to match the surroundings, with globally influenced fare such as truffled-artichoke soup; seared foie gras; roasted sea bass; saffron clams in a celeriac purée; and fragant pastries. The Pavilion Restaurant serves lighter Mediterranean fare in a Mousharabi-screen-shaded area of the garden, from which you can watch the Arabian horses – come on Sunday for a superlative brunch and the full-gallop horse show. An appetite-defeating breakfast spread has scrambled eggs, meats, cheeses, pastries, breads, fruit, juices, smoothies and tea and coffee, served in Selman restaurant or the Pavilion restaurant in warmer weather. Maximalist in its approach to both decor and dining, Assyl offers Ottoman-style opulence. The menu has traditional Morrocan fare, and Garcia has styled the space with dark woods and intricate Mousharabi screens; it's open from Tuesday to Saturday and guests are treated to live oriental dance performances and Andalusian music.
Three. Selman Bar is a dark-walled baroque den with mood-lightening myrtle-hued lamps, velvet drapes and button-back furnishings; a drape-disguised mezzanine level allows VIPs to party in peace. There’s also a bar at the Pavilion Restaurant and one in a linen-draped cabana by the main pool.
Selman Restaurant is open for breakfast 7am to 10.30am and dinner 7pm to 11pm. The Pavilion Restaurant is open for lunches and light suppers noon to 4.30pm. Assyl serves from 7pm.
A refined in-room menu is available 24 hours a day, whether you’re craving pancakes with strawberries for breakfast or monkfish tagine and orange-blossom île flottante for dinner. Coffee, tea, juice, wine, beer, champagne and cocktails can be ordered too.
Selman lies to the south of Marrakech, just outside the city walls. Sitting on a green six-hectare estate, the hotel emerges mirage-like from the surrounding desert sands. The Medina and Koutoubia mosque are a 15-minute drive away.
Marrakech Menara (http://marrakech.airport-authority.com) is 5km north of the hotel, a 10-minute drive away. Flights arrive direct from London Gatwick Airport and major European cities; flights across the Pacific connect via Hong Kong. The hotel can organise one-way transfers (for up to three guests), in a private car for MAD600.
If you’re travelling within Morocco, trains from Casablanca, Rabat, Fes and Tangiers arrive at Marrakech Railway Station – a 15-minute drive from Selman. The hotel can arrange one-way transfers for MAD300 (MAD600 if arriving after 11pm).
Driving in the centre of Marrakech can be an eye-opening experience, with honking cars, confused tourists and the odd stray donkey. However, you’ll need a car to reach the hotel and, once you’re outside the city, desert driving is a less chaotic affair. There are Avis car-hire booths at the airport and free valet parking on arrival.
Worth getting out of bed for
Set away from the city centre, Selman’s modus operandi is languid five-star pampering in palatial surrounds. The main pool has all the pomp of an aquatic catwalk, or there’s a cloistered plunge pool in the Henri Chenot spa – a 1,200sq m space with a hammam, gym and a range of treatments from sigh inducing massages to squeal-eking face peels. A tour of the scarlet-hued stables, is a must, and guests can watch the equestrian acrobatics of the majestic Arabian horses during brunch (see them in the paddocks at other times). Riding lessons aren’t available on these noble steeds, but the hotel can arrange unique classes, including a dressage lesson with horseback artist Sadek El Bahjaoui; a stretching session in the spa with one of the horses; and a pony circus tricks lesson for kids. There are a number of top-tier dressage and choreographed horse shows to see, too
The hotel’s perfectly placed to balance outdoor exploration with city sightseeing. Excursions include trips to Samanah Golf Course (+212 (0)524 483118), camel or horseback trekking on Essaouira beaches (a two-hour drive away), hot-air ballooning with Ciel D’Afrique (+212 (0)524 432843) and day trips into Imlil village and Ouirgane National Park for treks into the Atlas Mountains. Get down and dirty quad biking across the desert plains, or pinpoint the finest powder snow from a helicopter, then swoosh down it, in ski resort Oukaimeden (30 miles south of Marrakech).
In central Marrakech, dive into main square Djemaa El Fna’s souk for a colourful, whirl of trinket-stuffed stalls, vocal vendors, street performers and fragrant eateries; keep bewilderment at bay by asking the hotel to arrange a guide. Koutoubia Mosque (the tallest building in Marrakech) is close by and Majorelle Gardens (+212 (0)524 313047), an Yves Klein-aping blue and chartreuse-hued house with glorious gardens, and a petite but intriguing museum, is within walking distance; stop for mint tea, pastillas and cakes at the café. After dark the Casino de Marrakech (+212 (0)660 210806) encourages dissonantly lucky punters to part with their dirhams under neon lights – bring a game plan and your best James Bond impression.
There’s a dearth of dining in the hotel’s immediate surroundings – head into Marrakech for excellent eateries. Pepe Nero Restaurant (+212 (0)524 389067), a 12-minute drive north on Avenue Guemassa, serves Franco-Moroccan fare including sea bass with fennel in an attractive mosaic-tiled courtyard. Dar Rhizlane (+212 (0)524 421303) – a 10-minute drive away on Avenu Jnane El Harti – is an idyllic date-night destination, with tea-rose trimmed tables, gorgeous garden views and a menu of unique flavour combinations, such as lamb with pistachio and vanilla. Macaroons in rainbow hues, hand-made ice cream and artistically assembled gateaux can be found at 16 Café (+212 (0)243 39670) – close to Église des Saints-Martyrs, in the city centre – alongside an exhaustive salad selection. For after-hours fun, international nightclub Pacha (+212 (0)245 88400) diverges from its European counterparts with shisha pipes, bongo players and belly dancers – it’s also just a seven-minute taxi ride from the hotel.
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 been dethroned from palatial Selman hotel in Marrakech, and unpacked their Henri Chenot potions and sand-dusted riding boots, a full account of their luxury break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Selman…
There’s a rags to riches, Aladdin-esque sense of having arrived as you pull up to Selman; one moment you’re trundling through the desert palm groves, the next, sleek white fillies are prancing about on verdant turf and a terracotta palace appears to have risen from the desert. However, on insouciantly sauntering over the threshold – a suitably elaborate colonnaded portico – you’re swept into an absinthe-fuelled fever dream of the Arabian Nights, even grander than the impressive façade. Here subtlety is eschewed for Franco-Moroccan opulence – velvet-swagged bar corners, malachite-lined hallways, intricate fretwork, Arabian horse portraits blown up to Godzilla proportions and liberal splashes of imperial purple.
In-room, chaise longues and plump pillow-garnished beds will make you feel equally ‘to the palace born’, but before slumbering slip into something flamboyant and sashay catwalk-style through chandelier-lit corridors to the 1,200sq m spa for a spot of grooming, before visiting the equally primped Arabian horses in the scarlet-hued stables – which rival guest rooms for style. Staying at Selman may inspire delusions of grandeur, but while there’s a volley of staff and spectacular surroundings to bolster them, why not give in and have another champagne flute brought to your day-bed?
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 Selman’s Guestbook below.
This hotel is stunning. The staff was incredibly nice and helpful – they went above and beyond my expectations (a big thanks to all the front office team – especially to Adil and Hasna for their responsiveness and attention for my mother's birthday). The food was excellent. We went to both restaurants, the international as well as the Moroccan one. I had a preference for the second one – it wasnt only a dinner, it was an experience. The room was very well-decorated, spacious and clean. Everything was gorgeous! I will definitely go back.
Stayed on 22 Aug 2019
The hotel is very Morrocan and super chic – its dark and ornate interiors are stylish whilst outside is luscious and green. The room and bathroom were spacious, clean and well laid-out with plenty of room to get ready and put things away. Staff couldn't do enough for us, from the reception and concierge to the poolside staff and restaurant waiters, everyone was very friendly and helpful. The breakfast was pricey but had a good selection and the lunch and dinner menu, although not extensive in selection, was very good. We would definitely return!
The hotel taxi is expensive – ask for a regular yellow taxi instead.
Stayed on 8 Aug 2019
From arrival at the Selman everything is just "wow". The staff are friendly and helpful, the decor by Jacques Garcia is stunning, and the hotel as a whole manages to be both palatial and intimate all at the same time. We stayed in two different rooms – Deluxe and Prestige (both as a result of upgrades) – and they were both large, tasteful, comfortable and had great views. The spa with fitness centre is excellent, and there's a great opportunity to visit the stables and see the horse paddocks beloved by the owner. The main pool is huge (80 metres long) and both good to look at and good to swim in. It was overall an excellent experience.
Stayed on 29 Jun 2019
The hotel design, the beuatiful pool, our fantastic villa with a heated pool (was very nice with a morning swim in the cold air and the pool heated to appr 35 degrees), the garden with all olive trees, the amazing stables and paddocks, the riding and horse training experince with mr Sadek (strongly recommended), dinner shows etc ect. SImply everything. In my previous job I travelled appr 200 days a year and stayed at many of the worlds best hotels and Selman is among the 5 best hotels for me in summary. Hotel staff were very friendly and helpful. Our butler was so kind and most helpful! The Selman is place you like to come back to and stay longer for the perfect relaxing holiday! I have two recommendations to the hotel: please take away the plastic plants in the main room as it takes down the level expected, it gives a tacky feeling… I had booked a villa (riad) for me and my husband, the villas are really beautiful and also large, despite this it was not possible to have two single beds when my husband could not travel but I brought a friend. The hotel did put in an extra bed but it would have been nice to be able to have two real separate beds as the villas are not cheap…
How well the hotel and surrounding areas were placed. It was simply a beautiful oasis...
Stayed on 7 Feb 2019
The interiors of the hotel are totally gasp-worthy. The finishing touches are out of this world, nothing is half done. As someone who delights in beautiful fabrics, I was in heaven. Even the screening drapes at the windows are 100 silk voile! That about sums up the whole experience. Every turn, whether its just around the corner in the hotel corridor and into an internal courtyard with mosaic pool, or on the path out to the pool, draws another delight. Astounding landscaping, unbelievable colours, the smell of the place! Absolutely stunning – guaranteed to make you smile during your entire stay. We couldn't wait to go back to the hotel after the madness of the medina in the City centre! I've never heard birds singing in such quantity or so happily. And we thoroughly endorsed the sentiment! Highly recommended is The Cafe Jardin in the Medina. For coffee and lunch primarily. Beautiful courtyard garden, amazing service – can be a challenge if it's raining! For dinner, if you want atmosphere and fun, try The Terrasse des Epices in the Medina. We liked the Cafe de Paris which is actually in the new 'Medina' (city) so the location is not so interesting and atmospheric but the place itself was like stepping back into a Parisian brasserie in the 1920s, but Moroccan style. Don't miss the Jardins Majorelle – just outside the old medina. Yves St Laurent bought this little oasis built by painter Jacques Majorelle when it fell into disrepair after this death, and it has been restored into the most astonishingly beautiful, easy to walk around Marrakech version of Kew Gardens! Go early though, or be prepared to queue – there's a very inefficient ticketing office. And you have to complete the Moroccan experience with a little carpet haggling. We chose to go ourselves and took advice on where to go (ie. not the old Medina if you are serious about buying something of quality). My personal Mr Smith is a highly experienced negotiator so the exchanges with our Moroccan host were hilarious.
To be able to see a hand in front of your face in the bedrooms! The hotel is trendily and beautifully decorated in sun-soothing deep colours. It doesn't work so well when the sun isnt out however. Mirrors are not placed where you can get natural light and natural light on the ground floor bedrooms is very poor because they are so privately shielded with planting. You can't actually see the pool or the gardens, just your own foliage. The staff, in addition to being absolutely immaculately attired, are incredibly polite and helpful. But don't expect western standards in terms of speediness. And they quite often forget what you've asked them for. It's difficult to get annoyed however, because all the inadequacies are masked with such willingness to help and scrupulous 'politesse' that it was sometimes quite comic. This was not a universal feature of our experience in Marrakech – so I suspect the hotel just needs to tighten up the training somewhat. There are plenty of staff and they are a delight to deal with. You just never knew if the request was going to be fulfilled!
Stayed on 15 Mar 2018
The entire architecture and setting are out of this world. The service is excellent and the staff very friendly.