Moroccan Weekend Jaunts

Who doesn’t need a weekend break to get away from it all? In our opinion, Moroccan riads (old palaces and townhouses) provide the perfect base for relaxing as well as exploring city souks. There are many new properties (too numerous to mention) opening all the time, so please ask us for our latest suggestions.

Just some of Fiona’s ideal places to stay

Marrakech

Riad Noga, a ten-minute walk from the main square in the heart of the old Medina, offers seven richly decorated ensuite double rooms with air conditioning/heating, and some with telephone. In typical riad style, the rooms are all situated around a central courtyard graced with tumbling bougainvillea and orange trees. The dining room has a vaulted ceiling and the verdant roof terrace offers panoramic views. The green-tiled swimming pool is solar heated and there are plenty of private terraces for reading or sunbathing.

Maison D’Arab, situated in the shadow of the Bab Doukkala Mosque, is a former restaurant and veritable legend that offers some of the finest accommodation in the Medina. Seven gorgeously decorated rooms are set around two flower-filled patios. Some have a fireplace; others offer split-level accommodation — and even your own private rooftop Jacuzzi. The restaurant offers superb Moroccan and international a la carte dining. A ten-minute drive (by regular shuttle bus) takes you to the swimming pool set in an oasis of calm and tranquillity.

Dar Les Cigognes (House of Storks) stands opposite the gates to the Royal Palace. A former merchant’s home, it was recently turned into a beautiful little hotel by celebrity architect Charles Boccara. All five bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms are different and draw on the rich cultural heritage of Moorish art and decor. The lack of a swimming pool is more than compensated for by the superb attention to detail in the rooms, which are quite unique. An attractive courtyard with fruit trees and fountain provides a peaceful place for relaxation.

Essaouira

Dar Mimosa offers superb accommodation set in an extraordinary garden on the outskirts of this coastal fishing village. Built and run personally by its French owner, who often cooks the guests’ dinners, this magical little hotel has just four two-roomed villas with private gardens, and four double bedrooms, allowing no more than 24 guests at any one time. The decor is memorable, from striking blue and white-tiled bathrooms to ochre and blue walls, traditional furniture and antique paintings. Lunches may be taken around the mosaic-tiled pool; dinners are served in one of the many private salons dotted throughout the main house or in your private villa. Dar Mimosa combines the best of an elegant ambience with a relaxed atmosphere for a really memorable stay.

Fes

La Maison Bleue was built in 1915. This fabulous old Moroccan house has 12 rooms and suites and a delightful roof terrace situated just a few minutes walk from the busy souk. The rooms are packed with exquisite antiques and have mosaic-tiled floors, chandeliers, luxurious curtains, brocaded sofas and four-poster beds. Dinner is a memorable four-course extravaganza with musicians, candlelight and running fountains to serenade the evening. The rooms have some modern luxuries — television, hairdryer and mini bar — but otherwise are delightfully old fashioned.

Atlas Mountains

Kasbah Agafay offers unforgettable views across Berber Villages, the Atlas Mountains and olive-grove plantations, yet is only a 20-minute drive from the centre of Marrakech. For those who dream of escaping to an 18th-century castle fort, this special kasbah is a unique retreat, perfect for a holiday or honeymoon to remember. Fourteen suites are set around six private riad-style courtyards, each with imaginative decoration, Moroccan artefacts and antiques, yet with all modern amenities. There are also four large suites in traditional tents with private terraces, king-size mosaic baths and four-poster beds made from old Nomad beams. The kasbah offers traditional and international cuisine, a large mosaic-tiled swimming pool, a floodlit tennis court and an open-air aromatherapy spa.

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