Almaha – Marrakesh, Morocco
Just when the British winter seems to be dragging on, late February and early March in Morocco see the Atlas Mountains surrounding Marrakesh thaw, and almond and cherry trees burst into blossom. With a flight time from the UK of less than four hours and a jacket-shedding temperature of around 22°C, Marrakesh makes the perfect shorthaul break in which to grab a blast of sunshine and a glimmer of the exotic.
The riad-style hotel is hidden down a winding derb (alleyway) in the un-touristy neighbourhood of the Kasbah, where the former royal stables once stood. Just a 15-minute walk from the action-packed main square, Djemaa El-Fna, from its rooftop there are sublime views of the High Atlas Mountains, the peaks pastel blue and mauve in the distance.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
To exhale deeply in quiet surrounds. The riad’s design was inspired by Baudelaire’s love poem L’Invitation au Voyage, where he dreams of an exotic escape. Its closing line, “luxury, calm and pleasure” is certainly a theme here, and after a day haggling in the kaleidoscopic souqs, Almaha’s white arcaded courtyard, turquoise pool and sense of space and solitude are the perfect antidote.
WHAT’S MY ROOM LIKE?
The 12 individually styled rooms and suites are so big they’d match the footprint of many London flats. King-sized beds are backed by intricate stucco feature walls, and star-cut lanterns create dancing shadows over draped curtains. The grandeur continues in the bathrooms, where there are marble his and hers sinks, deep soaking tubs and rain showers, the air infused with the scent of orange blossom and jasmine.
WHAT AM I EATING?
All meals can be taken on the roof terrace, which is the perfect place to plot the day’s adventures. Breakfast is a treat, with homemade pancakes, fresh orange juice, fruit and yoghurt. Just a short walk away, you’ll find Kosybar on the edge of the Jewish quarter. Head to the roof for sundowners and sushi while looking over the red walls of 16th-century El Badi Palace.
GOOD TO KNOW
The hotel staff don’t speak very good English, so it will help if you can speak French. Though polite and friendly they are somewhat reserved; if you need something don’t hesitate to ask.
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE?
Doubles start at £270 per night including breakfast, afternoon tea and pastries, and return transfers from the airport.