I was heading out to Marrakech to review the Biennale Festival and during my visit I was lucky enough to be invited to stay at the Riad Farnatchi to take a sneak peek at the new Farnatchi Spa and the new Le Trou au Mur Restaurant, opening in April.
Riad Farnatchi is a 9-suite luxury riad, which provides guests with the ultimate in comfort and a no 'airs and graces' approach to service. The flexible arrangements meant that I could eat and drink whatever I liked whenever I liked and nothing was too much trouble. Before my departure I even enjoyed a spot of sunbathing on the private roof terrace, which provided me with a blissful moment in the sun before heading back to freezing England!
Arrival at Riad Farnatchi
After an early start from London, I was very happy to see a smiling face from Riad Farnatchi ready to pick me up from the airport. After a 20-minute car ride, I was dropped off in the hustle and bustle that is Marrakech and walked the remainder of the 10-minute journey to the riad. I loved my walk past donkeys, people baking bread and old men hugging, looking on as only an awe struck Westerner would. Suddenly, London felt a million miles away.
Riad Farnatchi is tucked down a hidden side road and if you didn't know what you were looking for, you would have no idea that such luxury existed just around the corner. Once I arrived, I was greeted by the friendly staff who gave me a cup of some much needed mint tea, which I sipped while looking longingly at the pool with the relaxing sounds of the water easing my cares away.
There are nine suites at Riad Farnatchi, each with its own distinct style. All suites have a balcony either on the roof or overlooking the pool. I stayed in Suite 5, a well proportioned room with an air of grandeur and opulence and a taste of Morocco everywhere you looked. The room had an open fire that the staff lit for me in the evenings and they also threw in a hot water bottle, carefully placed to warm up my night wear, which I thought was a nice touch!
My suite was the perfect haven for relaxation after a day amidst the chaos of the Marrakech markets. Given the size of the suite and its peaceful ambiance, I'd definitely recommend it for a honeymooning couple who wanted to spend time alone and dine in the privacy of the room.
The new Farnatchi Spa
Unfortunately for me, the spa opened the day I left. I did, however, manage to get a sneak preview. The Spa Director, James Wix, shared his vision for the spa, which is to provide guests with a luxury experience at accessible prices. James believes that everyone deserves a spa treatment now and again and with prices starting at E35, the prices are definitely reasonable.
The spa is open to all visitors, however, Riad Farnatchi's guests will have priority over non-hotel guests. The spa has a separate entrance from the hotel, so hotel guests feel like they're being transported somewhere else. With three massage rooms, one manicure / pedicure room and two hammams, the spa has the capacity to cater for visitors to Marrakech looking for a treatment or two.
This spa has an edge over other spas in Marrakech as it offers a wide range of treatments by internationally acclaimed luxury organic spa brand ila and wholesome, natural Moroccan specialist producer Nectorome. An industry pioneer, Farnatchi will be the first Spa to offer the ila Gold Cellular Age Restore Range collection outside the UK, a ground-breaking natural anti-ageing collection made up of some of the world’s rarest ingredients. A wide variety of skincare treatments are on offer including everything from pregnancy massages to rejuvenating facials, to deep tissue massages to manicures.
I loved the design of the spa, which featured simple black and white Moroccan style tiles and walls adorned with pictures of traditional Moroccan bathing scenes, which added warmth to the atmosphere.
The bar area
Riad Farnatchi has a small, intimate bar area situated next to the pool, which features comfortable chairs and gorgeous wallpaper, which is a great spot for pre-dinner drinks.
Dining at Riad Farnatchi
During your stay, the kitchen can cook / provide you with anything you want. One evening, I arrived back at the riad quite late and just wanted a light salad with a glass of wine, which was promptly served without any issues.
The new Le Trou au Mur Restaurant
The 70-cover restaurant has a separate entrance opposite the Riad. The decor features black and white Moroccan tiles, (similar to those featured in the spa) and luxurious touches including poured metal chandeliers and Luis XV chairs.
Guests have two menus to choose from - European comfort food (including gourmet burgers) and 'Forgotten Morocco', which brings to life lost recipes from the traditions of Moroccan cuisine. Some of the items featured on the menu won’t be for the faint hearted (including bits of carcasses that I wasn't aware could be eaten)! Prices average from £30-£50 per head.
The cuisine at Riad Farnatchi
During my visit, I enjoyed a wonderful selection of Moroccan salads to start, all of which were fresh and beautifully presented, served with Tanott bread and date butter. For my mains, I had Beef Braner – a deliciously succulent slow cooked beef served with perfectly cooked vegetables. To finish I had ginger ice-cream served with oranges. Overall, it was a delicious Moroccan meal that was the perfect end to my enjoyable stay.
For visitors to Marrakech who are seeking a luxurious riad near the hustle and bustle of the Medina, Riad Farnatchi is a hidden gem that shouldn't be missed.
Derb el Farnatchi
Rue Souk el Fassis Qua’at Ben Ahid
A summary of my experience at Riad Farnatchi
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Review: Park Hotel, Tokyo
When looking for accommodation in Tokyo, I was overwhelmed by the endless options on offer, so I was thrilled to discover Doris & Dicky, a newly launched collection of 500 carefully-curated handpicked boutique hotels, which won’t break the bank.
The team at Doris & Dicky recommended the unique Park Hotel, a quirky hotel that occupies the top 10 floors of the Shiodome Media Tower, which holds its own among the architectural giants of this busy district. This charming 273-room hotel with its utterly breath-taking views of Tokyo, is conveniently located in Shiodome, Tokyo’s thriving new cultural and business district, situated 10 minutes' away from central Tokyo.
Our arrival at Park Hotel Tokyo
As the lift gathers speed during its fast ascent to the hotel, your stomach does somersaults as you climb each floor. Upon arrival, you'll notice the stunning atrium, which soars from the 25th to 34th floor of the hotel, allowing light to cascade through the glass ceiling.
ART concept and ART Colours Exhibition
The hotel concept is focused on ART (which includes the Atrium, Restaurants and Travel). Couple this with traditional Japanese hospitality and you're on to a winning combination.
The hotel regularly plays host to a variety of events throughout the year, including the ART Colours Exhibition, which features a different theme, according to the season. During our stay, the space was adorned with stunning red and white bird sculptures, which was a testament to the great emphasis this hotel places on art.
Room selection - Choose from 'Artist Rooms' or traditional rooms...
The hotel has a wide variety of rooms to choose from including traditional rooms or 'artist rooms', which feature striking, contemporary murals, which have been hand decorated by local artists. To encourage artistic inspiration, the artists take up residence in the hotel for several weeks to soak up the atmosphere and decide on a theme. Once the theme has been decided, the artist paints his/her vision directly on to the wall. We've been informed that eventually, all 33 rooms on the top floor of the hotel will feature artistic designs.
Our Room - The Cherry Blossom Artist Room
During our visit we stayed in the gorgeous Cherry Blossom artist room, which featured a dramatic mural with a magnificent cherry blossom tree. We were very content with our room, especially given that we had just missed seeing the renowned cherry blossom season! We loved everything about our room, including the dreamy white linen-bedding, the Thann Aromatic Wood Collection toiletries (a real treat) and of course, the large picture window in our bedroom, which afforded an incredible view of the Tokyo Tower - an experience we won't forget. Each morning, we enjoyed looking at this view and the buzz of the city below from the comfort of the window seat, with a cup of tea in hand.
The hotel has a gym, a full-service spa offering a range of massages (including the signature Japanese shiatsu massage), two restaurants and a cocktail bar.
Breakfast at Park Hotel
Every morning a buffet-style breakfast is served in the atrium. Breakfast options included scrambled and boiled eggs, sausages and bacon, a continental selection of cold meats and cheeses, fresh breads and pastries, cereals, fruit and a variety of Japanese options including steamed rice, miso soup, grilled salmon and assorted pickles. Though a slight shock to the tastebuds at 9am, the Japanese breakfast offering was a welcome deviation from the norm!
Dining options at Park Hotel
For guests who don't want to venture too far for lunch or dinner, there are two onsite restaurants to enjoy - Tateru Yoshino Bis, a French restaurant or Hanasanshou, a Japanese restaurant, featuring Kaiseki cuisine, a style of traditional Japanese cuisine in which a series of very small, intricate dishes are prepared. Whichever restaurant you choose, you can't go wrong, as both have stunning views and a relaxed, yet stylish décor.
The amazing staff at Park Hotel
Throughout our stay, service was second to none and we can't say enough about the helpful concierge staff who went out of their way to make arrangements for my partner’s birthday. With only a short brief on what type of restaurant we were seeking for the occasion, they selected a Teppanyaki restaurant in Roppongi and even printed out a map for us (including the address in Japanese for our taxi driver). We're pretty sure they also had something to do with the perfect location of our table! As if that wasn't enough, they also left a bottle of Champagne and candles in our room, which was a real heart-warming touch.
Overall, Park Hotel is a great option if you're looking for a stylish and unique hotel with friendly service and great views of the city.
Shiodome Media Tower
1-7-1 Higashi Shimbashi
A summary of our experience at Park Hotel Tokyo
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