I spent a good deal of time researching places to stay in Marrakech before my April visit. Deciding between a more traditional riad (think small palace with a courtyard) or a larger hotel/resort outside the city’s Medina or old town is a major consideration. Since my friends and I stayed several nights at the Palais Namaskar, a fantastic destination resort in the nearby Palmeraie region, I wanted a more traditional experience in Marrakech, preferably in the Medina, where mud brick ramparts enclose winding narrow streets packed with shops, food vendors, mosques, and homes.
My pick is La Villa des Orangers, which I wholeheartedly recommend. This Relais & Chateaux property strikes the perfect balance between traditional riad and full-service hotel (such as La Mamounia and Le Royal Mansoor), offering a decent-size swimming pool, onsite restaurant, gym, and hammam/spa. There are also several stunning libraries and sitting rooms with fireplaces.
As with most riads, the building is set up with a modest entrance that leads to a courtyard and gardens. Room windows face the courtyard rather than the street. Most riads in the Medina are small, with maybe 9 or 12 guest rooms. But La Villa is unique in that it offers 27 rooms, every bit as luxurious as larger five-star resorts, yet still capturing the intimacy of staying in a private home or small palace.
When entering the hotel from the somewhat seedy looking street (where there are tire and car repair shops) one passes through a small entry into an oasis hidden behind large exterior walls. It’s hard to imagine that a five-star, WiFi-equipped hotel is hidden here! A number of the spacious rooms, tastefully designed in traditional Moroccan style, have their own rooftop terraces.
The welcoming staff makes a good effort to get to know each guest. They were helpful in arranging guides, recommending places to eat, and even lighting a fire when I was alone sipping tea in the salon.
I highly recommend having at least one, if not several, dinners at the outstanding restaurant. On my last evening I invited four guests and the restaurant arranged for a lovely private dining room with a roaring fireplace. It was just so special and memorable.
I recommend staying at least four days. Too few and you’re too busy around the Medina with no quiet time to experience the best that this unique property has to offer.
At the end of the day, my truest measure of a pleasing hotel stay is whether I would wish to return. In this case, hands down, I’d stay here again – without a doubt.