Derb Moullay Abdullah Ben Hezzian, Bab el Ksour, Medina
Owned by Richard Branson's sister, Vanessa, El Fenn is a bright spot in a city that's already wildly colorful. Years ago, Vanessa and partner William Howell were walking through Marakkech looking for a home to buy when they came across a once stately riad that was desperately in need of a resuscitation. The pair restored it to its former glory, and transformed it into a gorgeously appointed, 28-room hotel. While it's within striking distance of most of Morocco's biggest hits (see our Marrakech guide, here), Branson and Howell round out the stay with a trove of other experiences. You can shop the markets with the chef and cook in the hotel's kitchens, take a bellydancing class, or camel ride in the Ourika valley. Historically, they've held writer's retreats and photography workshops, too.
Avenue Bab Jdid, Medina
I stayed at the revamped historic La Mamounia Hotel, located in the heart of the imperial city. The Jacques Garcia designed interiors are splendid to say the least, and the hotel’s gardens are out of this world, almost from a fairy tale. The hotel has four restaurants supplying cuisine from around the world—L’Italien, Le Francais, Le Marocain, and Le Pavillion de la Piscine—and five bars to choose from—Le Bar Marocain, Le Bar Italien, Le Bar Churchill, Le Bar de la Piscine, and Le Menzeh “Glacier & Patissier.” The food and drinks here are elegant and delicious, and with all the choices, it’s easy to stay in the hotel for an entire weekend of relaxation. Speaking of which, I couldn’t resist a daily Hammam treatment at the hotel’s spa. Get this: 15 minutes in a steam room, a full-body lather in Black Soap, an exfoliating rub down, a Ghassoul (Moroccan clay) body masque, and then a warm shower... Ridiculously lavish!
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