Travel

Habibti Travel Guide – Moroccan Magic

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Away from Marrakech’s frenetic Medina and chic European-style new town, the pace of life slows down considerably in the Palmeraie district (about a 20-minute drive north-east of the Medina). An upmarket oasis, it’s chock-full of celebrity-owned villas, one of the king’s palaces and innumerable luxury hotels and retreats; but the highly romantic Les Cinq Djellabas stands out for its seclusion and instant wind-down from the rigours of modern life.

 

What we love

  • Rate includes complimentary WiFi, daily breakfast (of a Moroccan or international menu) and VAT
  • Sprawling olive grove gardens romantically lit by lanterns at night
  • 
The exotic, traditional-meets-contemporary architecture and design of the property by Thierry Isnardon
  • A long slate-blue swimming pool framed by palm trees
  • An alfresco massage beneath the palms is a real treat
  • Ten independent bungalows make up the accommodation, complete with king size beds, fireplaces and roll-top baths with views of the garden
  • 
Impeccable service that makes you feel at home

What to know

  • For guests who book three nights or more, the rate includes one return transfer from the city centre
  • Guests have access to five golf courses (ranging from 18 to 24 holes) located 20 to 45 minutes away by car
  • 
Better suited to couples looking to escape from reality for a few days than families with kids
  • Being outside the Palmeraie proper, you are somewhat isolated, so you’ll need to rent a car or rely on local taxi or car services to get around
  • There’s no spa or hammam, but in-room and alfresco beauty and massage treatments are available
  • Top-flight cooking combines traditional Moroccan dishes with lighter European options, but the menu is fairly small

 review

Thierry Isnardon’s kasbah-style palace, made of rammed earth and thatched roofs, will leave you spellbound and instantly relaxed. Filled with intimate spaces to suit every mood, the soaring lobby gives way to a romantic dining room with a real fireplace, colonial-style lounge for reading or watching a movie, and a large first-floor terrace that’s perfect for watching the sun go down over Palmeraie with a gin-and-tonic.Over on the other side of the sprawling gardens are 10 bungalows (or, as the hotel calls them, lodges), each containing a suite: far enough from the main house to ensure a sense of privacy without making guests feel isolated. The look is safari chic, with each bungalow circular in shape and covered by a thatched roof woven together in artful geometry. The kingsize beds (some four-poster) are draped with cooling linens, and there’s room to spread out in the private lounge area, which is decked out with sofas and an armchair, a fireplace and a large flat-screen TV.

Each bungalow has a two-door entrance, so the air swirls throughout in high summer, and the light-filled bathrooms, with walk-in showers, roll-top baths and huge picture windows overlooking the back of the property add to the luxe factor.

For me the highlight was the simple pleasure of strolling through the gardens to eat lunch with a glass of the excellent Moroccan Volubilia Gris (a very pale rosé from Meknes) by the pool, then whiling away the afternoon on a daybed or with a swim in the quiet pool, set in the heart of the garden. Few places will chill you out more quickly. But if you do get restless, golf and the exotic allure of Marrakech are not far away.

What to do

  • Spend. Maroc and Roll, the newly opened 33 Rue Majorelle concept store just opposite the Marjorelle Gardens, is well stocked with the work of young designers offering a contemporary take on Moroccan design.
  • Dine. After a morning of exploring the souks, have lunch at local entrepreneur Kamal Laftimi’s latest venture, Le Jardin — an excellent example of the new Marrakech style.
  • Spa. Treat yourself to a half day at the Royal Mansour, which has eye-popping modern design and excellent facilities. The pièce de résistance is a sunset swim in the glass-covered pool.
  • Dance. Check out the uber-kitsch but highly fashionable Djellabar in l’Hivernage, Marrakech’s groovy nightlife district. It’s run by Claude Challe – creator of Buddha Bar in Paris – who fuses Andalous-Arabic grooves to great effect.

How to get there

Flights are available to Marrakech-Menara Airport (RAK) are available from UK cities on a variety of carriers, including Royal Air Maroc and easyJet. Private transfers are available to/from RAK, about 10 miles away; ground airport transfers are included in the rate and can be coordinated through the property. The property does not offer transfers to/from Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) in Casablanca, about 140 miles away. Alternatively, taxis are available to/from RAK for approximately (£13) $20, each way, and to/from CMN for approximately (£85) $133, each way.

visit www.jetsetter.co.uk

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