- Detailed Review
- Facts & Amenities
I am generally suspicious of gushing reviews. If you are as well, either look away or believe it when I say that my stay at Royal Mansour was simply the best I have ever had.
Royal Mansour is, for me, the perfect Marrakech property. Set within the ochre walls of the medina, it is a hop, skip and a jump (five minutes’ walk) to the hullabaloo of the souq and tussle of the old city. And yet it is also just a short walk back from all that to an incredible oasis of calm, opulent surroundings and silence, interrupted only by the gurgling of fountains or the clinking of (very beautiful) glass. I can’t think of a property that does extravagance to such an elegant, yet understated degree.
Fifty-three riads are spread out through lush gardens. Each ranges over three storeys and showcases the hotel’s dedication to astonishing Moroccan craftsmanship and modern-day luxury. Lush gardens surround you at every turn, a set-up that guarantees privacy. Step outside to dine, where you can move from a delicate French breakfast to arguably the best Moroccan fare in Marrakech. Or simply relax by the glamorous pool. Pull up on a sunbed or repair to a fully stocked cabana.
Royal Mansour’s design is breathtaking, and it is no surprise that the hotel plays host to guests of the King, who is also its owner. But it is the staff who combine polish with intuition to ensure that the place is not stuffy; they elevate it to an exciting destination that complements the city of Marrakech so well. Make sure to tap the concierge team for their treasure trove of ideas.
Incredibly impressive, this is going to be a repeat ‘special place’ destination for me, even if that means committing to a second (full-time) job.
I drove from Casablanca to Marrakech (Casa to Kech, to those in the know; a very doable trip) and my car was met at the security gates of the hotel. After a short wait to match my name with a reservation, I was ushered through a pair of magnificent bronze gates that opened slowly to reveal the resplendent resort and a smartly dressed welcoming party. Luggage disappeared and I was shown through to a stunning open-air fountain and courtyard. The entire property is built using the riad principal, and the sequence of rooms in the main building reveals the property’s awesome rendition of exquisite Moroccan architecture and craftsmanship. Everywhere you look there’s intricate cedar woodwork, mosaic tiling and inlays. There are awe-inspiring beaten-bronze and stucco finishings too, with the opulence amped up by stunning crystal Baccarat chandeliers and more flowers than Holland’s Keukenhof gardens.
The interaction with staff at check-in gave a hint of what was to come. Impeccably turned out, smart, smiley and smooth – chilled water and mint tea were offered, my passport was taken, and I was escorted down the garden path (literally) on a magical walk to my riad. But not before the concierge came over with a big smile and enquired when I would like to run through the various restaurant and activity reservations that had been arranged by email.
Rooms and suites
There are no rooms but rather 53 riads at Royal Mansour, and they are really quite something else. I was in a Premier Riad, and although huge at 175sq m (1,884sq ft), it was dwarfed by some that range up to an astonishing 1,800sq m (19,375sq ft ). It begins to make a bit more sense when you know that the hotel was commissioned by the King of Morocco and is often used to accommodate his guests.
Each riad is accessed by a tall green door that swings into a beautiful stand-alone dwelling, built around an open-air courtyard with a fountain, apparently protected by an automatic cover if rain threatens. The property’s lush gardens seem to follow you into your riad and lend an even stronger sense of privacy. The extraordinary and elaborate craftsmanship is evident at every turn – the zellij mosaic work is remarkable.
For those with limited mobility, the stairs would potentially present a problem. You might also have some concerns if you had younger kids tearing up and down as the marble guarantees a hard landing. But for those guests there are several riads with a lift, which should be requested when booking.
The ground level behind the signature green door progresses from the courtyard to a cushioned majlis (sitting area), and then a large living room with a dining area. Beautifully embossed personalised stationery lies on a writing desk, and a tray of freshly baked madeleines had been left with a wonderful selection of fruits (do try the Moroccan oranges) and a gift of organic red wine. Just off the stairs to the next storey is a kitchen area with a never-ending supply of Nespresso capsules and something approaching the full range of Mariage Frères teas and a concealed fridge. Opposite is a small toilet room with a fan-shaped hand basin that I desperately wanted to take with me, it was so beautiful.
Here I should highlight one of the genuinely proficient functions at the hotel. Behind the kitchen is a door that opens into the pitch black of the staff access ways. In fact, each of the three levels has a staff entrance, meaning that a meal may be laid out, or a bedroom remade, without you ever being the wiser. There is, in fact, an intricate labyrinth of underground and above-ground corridors for the staff to go about their business discreetly. Royal service all around.
The first level houses the bedroom and bathroom, as well as two luggage rooms with cupboard spaces to hang clothes full-length. While I am not known for travelling light, even I was nonplussed by just how much kit they could have been expecting. In a very nice touch, my luggage was removed after I had unpacked and then spirited back when it was time to leave.
The bedroom has a warm cream palette offset by a dark cedar frame, providing the perfect backdrop for an elegant and intimate room with a generously sized bed, beautiful linen, silk-lined walls and reassuringly deep carpeting. An ornate see-through screen separates the ‘boudoir’, which has twin storage and dressing areas and houses the safe and a comprehensive array of accessories, from shoe horns to hats.
Up the stairs on the next level, the temperature rises noticeably and then, there you are on the roof, where the colour scheme changes to the familiar Marrakech red of the rest of the hotel and the city. Below are the spectacular gardens. The roof is picture-perfect, with a shaded day bed and a separate lounge terrace, dining area and a plunge pool. It is incredibly restful, the ideal place to have breakfast served, and it could also be a romantic setting for a candlelit dinner.
Essential lighting and AC are simply navigated from wall-mounted screens that control riad zones. Wi-fi is complimentary and very fast across all parts of the property, easily supporting video calls to show off your surroundings. There is a good selection of free TV channels but it seems a bit pointless in the scheme of things to charge for films.
The bathroom is not much smaller than the bedroom and makes a feature of bringing the garden inside. Latticed cedar screens protected my modesty; the marbled and tiled walls kept things cool. There’s a deep, long bath with a selection of salts and oils, a walk-in rainforest shower and twin basins with loads of easy-to-access storage facilities. Piles of strategically placed, fluffy towelling and a large array of marocMaroc toiletries loaded with Argan oil and other Moroccan ingredients add to the decadence.
The alfresco breakfast at La Table was a welcome start each day. The courtyard extends off the reception wing and is surrounded by gardens with some fairly boisterous birds. An army of white-gloved waiters quietly get to work with a smile, recalling the coffee order from the day before and suggesting a small citrus salad (those oranges again). A little trolley conveys an array of perfectly flaky patisserie and breads, followed by a selection of traditional and Moroccan-inspired items. Go for the Thousand Hole pancakes with thyme honey, or try one of the best takes on eggs Benedict I have had, made with turkey ham and perfectly shaped soft-boiled eggs.
Other restaurant options
I had several poolside snacks via Le Jardin. The eggplant ‘chips’ with orange blossom honey are wonderfully moreish, and the cocktail list very good. It was judged too cold for the outdoor restaurant to be open for dinner, which was a shame as the weather was perfect and the pool gardens are stunning.
If I am forced to make any criticism of Royal Mansour, it is with the formal restaurants. Not because of the quality of food, which is universally commended, but because they lack any of the buzz that, for me, makes Marrakech. The fine-dining French and Moroccan restaurants are housed in a separate dining riad. The rooms are exquisite but bereft of energy. Like me, I suspect that many guests opted to take in some of the city’s outstanding dining options beyond the property walls. The two bars were similarly quiet, which was a shame as the main bar is truly beautiful. You need to sit there simply to take in the glory of the ceiling for starters.
The concierge staff were well versed on dining options to suits all tastes. Despite it approaching the high season, a call from Royal Mansour clearly carries some weight, as I was shown to great tables at some fine restaurants at my choice of time.
Spa and wellness
The spa is housed in a dedicated building a short walk past the pool. A confection of white and grey marble, the reception area with its rose petal-filled central fountain is guaranteed to provide some of your best holiday snaps. There is a full menu, from hair to feet, and, of course, the hammam. I combined a 90-minute massage with time in the hammam and facial treatments. The rooms cover several floors, and the building also has a large indoor swimming pool within a spectacular glass house and a well-equipped gym on the lower level. Personal training services are available, and there was what I imagine to be a Pilates set-up. The spa is accessible to, and popular with, outside guests, so it would be wise to make bookings soon after checking in.
Pool and beach
The pool at Royal Mansour is apparently a recent addition, as are the gardens that surround it. Without them the hotel would be quite a different place. And with them you have the perfect respite whenever you need it from the madness of Marrakech. The gardens feature mature olive, date and orange trees heavily laden with fruit that, happily, are incorporated into the hotel’s menus.
It’s a pretty glam but casual set-up, with sun loungers all around the pool and then the cabanas set back just behind. You can hire a small or large cabana, and this would make sense in the hotter months, or for a large party for dining and other recreation spaces. There were a surprising number of children in residence when I was there, and although (generally!) well behaved, the pool area is definitely not an adults-only zone.
Service poolside was surprisingly slow, but a great selection of food and drink kept me very happy. That, and people-watching, as some guests took their swimming attire and poolside pout very seriously indeed. Perhaps those were some of my best holiday snaps, after all.
Many of the guests had children in tow. They were clearly having fun; indeed it would be hard not to. While there did not appear to be many specific kids-only options, they were very well looked after by the benevolent hotel staff.
Staff and service
Magic. If I could get away with one word, that would be it. Royal Mansour’s staff-to-guest ratio is eye-popping (more than 500 for the 53 riads), and it’s not just a case of quantity. The almost exclusively Moroccan staff are a class act. They are quietly discreet but also great fun and incredibly genuine about wanting your stay to be perfect. Service is exceptionally polished but friendly. You also scarcely see any staff, as many move around behind the scenes through their own access ways.
The concierge team deserves special mention. They arranged a diverse schedule of activities for me and were adept at changing tack to suit the mood of the day and the vagaries of holiday timing.
French guests were here in full force, with a decent showing from the Spanish and a large Mexican family reunion. Although the property was running near capacity, it was possible to remain somewhat isolated from fellow guests, apart from a brief hello over breakfast. Well-heeled and generally on the younger side of middle age, confirmed bachelors were also well represented.
I was honestly dreading leaving, and the return to real life was indeed a brutal jolt. Checkout was done sitting down in the wood-panelled reception area over tea. Flight details had already been provided, and the hotel’s new Range Rover swept me out to the airport. But not before the concierge had thoughtfully arranged the car to detour via the newly opened Musée Yves Saint Laurent, which adjoins the famous Jardin Majorelle. Arriving at the airport, an express departure agent greeted me kerbside and took me through. This is a complimentary offering from the hotel (a similar service is available on arrival) that kept the Mansour magic alive for just that little bit longer.
How to get here
20 minutes by road from Marrakech Menara Airport