IF THERE WAS a Moroccan version of Japanese ninjas, I they would find gainful employment at the Royal Mansour Marrakech. The staff there must receive similar training because they come and go in total secrecy while executing any mission they’re tasked with. This was most evident the morning my wife and I ordered breakfast on our private rooftop terrace. (Yes, you read that correctly. More on the layout of our accommodation later.)
Moments after placing a call to the concierge, we went upstairs to find a table already set with a ridiculous bounty of Moroccan delicacies, including a tasty flatbread called msemen and harira, a tangy chickpea soup—right beside our personal plunge pool. There was no knock at the door, no bell—no footsteps! How exactly these hospitality ninjas pulled it off was not so easy to figure out. Our “room” at the Mansour was modeled after a traditional Moroccan riad, meaning the 1,500-square-foot abode was hidden behind a giant wooden door and featured an open-air sitting area where the North African sun poked through the clouds two stories above our heads.
The rest of the lower level consisted of a cozy living room with a fireplace, a curving marble staircase led to a gorgeous bedroom above, and yet another floor up was that roof deck. Feeling lazy? A private elevator stopped on all three floors. As for the ninjas, it was my hunch that a door near the kitchenette on the first floor was their secret egress leading to a series of hidden tunnels—but I never wanted the illusion to end.
Amazingly, our riad was one of the smallest of the 53 private residences that make up the sprawling Royal Mansour—the largest is a nearly 20,000-square-foot palace. The proportions are royal because the hotel was literally built by a king, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, with a reportedly unlimited budget. Handcrafted by more than 1,200 artisans, the hotel is a jaw-droppingly detailed blend of tile, sumptuous finishings, and wood accents. The spa is a white lattice–lined space so heavenly looking it relaxes you even before the traditional Moroccan hammam treatment begins. The grounds are equally meticulously curated, and wandering the indoor-outdoor expanse mimics being in Morocco’s labyrinthine medina—the ancient walled-in part of the city, which is a five-minute walk from the Mansour.
With so few rooms, the guest-to-staff ratio is stupidly lopsided, and the full army is on display at the hotel’s four restaurants, where you are served with precision care. At our splurge meal at La Grande Table Marocaine, which specializes in ultra-refined versions of traditional Moroccan fare like tagines and savory stuffed puff pastries called briouates, a prix fixe menu meant course after course of insanely delicious food. Stuffed after the decadent meal, I had no choice but to take my elevator to my bedroom. It’s good to be the king.
Marrakech is exotic, but it’s also surprisingly close. Royal Air Maroc flies direct from New York to Casablanca daily (just seven hours), and it’s a short flight to Marrakech from there.
You can spend days wandering the medina, but an entirely different experience is just 45 minutes outside town, in the Agafay Desert. The moonlike landscape is an otherworldly place to hike, mountain bike, or ATV. And the bespoke outfitter Black Tomato can set up nearly any experience. The Terre des Etoiles ecolodge is worth a stop for lunch or an overnight.
That includes sheep eye—one of the many delicious bites on the Marrakech food tour, an incredible gastronomic trip deep into the hidden world of the souk.
Don’t Leave Without…
…taking a sidecar tour through the medina…buying a rug at Soufiane Zarib…drinking coffee at Bacha cafe…strolling the gardens of Jardin Majorelle…lounging with a cocktail on the roof at El Fenn.
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