Marrakech is nothing if not full on. There’s very little about it that’s low-key - to explore the Medina is to set foot into another place and time: the traffic is mental, the colours explosive, the ‘advertising’ playfully forceful and the streetwear a confounding mixture of medieval and modern.
But of course, this is what’s so utterly brilliant about it. You scarcely expect to fly a mere three hours from London - and to experience no time difference whatsoever - and yet to plunge into a place so entirely other.
But plunge into it you must, because to do otherwise is to miss out on so much of what makes Marrakech what it is. Haggle. Laugh. Walk away. Walk back. Offer a lower price. Buy the slippers. Allow yourself to be passed from guide to guide on a wild goose chase for an ‘only today, something very special’ which ends up being a terrace-top view of the tanneries - and for goodness’ sake, accept the mint leaves and crush them under your nose to ward off the smell. Get lost in the souks. Sample spices and buy things for which you’ll likely never find a culinary use. Allow your arm to be grabbed by a henna artist; snatch it back if you wish, or submit to the intricate swirls and patterns of her syringe applicator and hand over some dirhams at the end. Watch flame jugglers by night, sample street food, observe wild dancers, marvel at snakes being charmed, decline to pose for a photo with a monkey, circumnavigate the city walls in a horse and carriage.
Do it all. It’s exhilarating.
Escape the Pace
It’s also, unsurprisingly, exhausting - and like many buzz-inducing things, Marrakech is best enjoyed with some quality downtime between forays into all of its colourful madness. The Royal Palm Beachcomber Luxury Marrakech is located within a few minutes’ drive of the Medina - a complimentary shuttle bus runs several times a day between resort and centre - yet feels as ethereally distant from the glorious hustle and bustle as the reflection of a star on a pond is from the night sky.
Built in a sympathetically low-rise, flat roofed, pink wash style, the Royal Palm, vast though it is, is barely discernible on approach - and then you sweep in through the gates and into an abundance of bulbous cacti, whispering grasses and trailing foliage, fetchingly lush and green against the apricot-ish walls.
Suites are spacious and luxurious, decorated with the kind of low-key opulence that smacks of genuine taste. High ceilings and dark wood abound; the colour scheme is rich and soothingly neutral, with occasional pops of brightness incorporated in the plush floor rugs and comfy armchairs. By night, subtle lighting options and a discreet turn-down service lead you irresistibly to the bed, which is piled high with mounds of white pillows and made up with silkily cool cotton.
The suite bathrooms
The bathroom offers equally blissful shower and bathing options while, beyond this, the dressing room provides ample space for hanging and folding clothes, as well as a comfortable vanity area. Walk from the large living area through to the balcony, with its huge divan, tiled table and views of endless greenery; all rooms at the Royal Palm Beachcomber Luxury Marrakech face the golf course. For larger groups or those seeking complete seclusion, there are also a number of villas, complete with private pools, from which to choose.
By day, informal lunches with a Mediterranean feel can be enjoyed at L’Olivier, which is right by the main pool, with umbrellas and plants providing shade and waiters wearing jaunty hats and willing smiles. By night, head to Le Caravane, with which you’ll also become familiar via the morning’s exhaustive and beautifully presented breakfast buffet. Here, service is just the right blend of attentiveness and unobtrusiveness - a stool appears next to my seat for my bag, my scarf is draped on the back of my chair before I even notice it’s slipped off, we’re wrapped in thick, soft robes of black as soon as a nip appears in the air, and ushered inside (to an already prepared table) beneath umbrellas when a quick but heavy rain shower passes over.
Meals appear on the table under silver domes, all of which are simultaneously removed with a flourish to reveal food that’s as beautifully presented as it is to taste - my lamb is sublime. Upstairs, the female-run Al Aïn provides a more authentically traditional Moroccan setting, with an Andalouse musical trio, atmospheric lamps, fabric-swathed walls and Zellij tiling, plus cuisine that transforms simple ingredients into the subtle and exotic.
There’s more than ample reason to be as horizontally inactive as you please at The Royal Palm Beachcomber Luxury Marrakech - as well as comfortable sun beds surrounding the seemingly endless blue waters of the climate-controlled outdoor pools, there’s the Clarins Spa, which offers a range of relaxation, pampering and beauty treatments and hosts another, indoor, pool, hanging with greenery and reserved solely for client use.
Naturally, the 18-hole Par-72 course is the main attraction for golfers: designed by Cabell B. Robinson, it combines a variety of challenges with tropical shrubbery and an eco-sympathetic irrigation system. Non-golfers can burn of the holiday calories on the tennis or squash court, or by training in one of the fitness rooms, where choices range from cardio and Pilates to Kinesis and boxing.
Those travelling with younger family members may be looking forward to enjoying a few child-free hours while their children are cared for - but should be warned that they may have difficulty leaving their offspring in the Kids’ Club, simply because the surrounds are so utterly swoon-inducing that they’ll be tempted to stay there themselves.
Although it’s incredibly easy to lose hours (and all sense of direction) in the souks, be sure to set aside some daylight hours for exploring some of Marrakech’s beautiful gardens: Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle requires a fairly hefty entrance fee in comparison to its size, but it’s Instagram heaven for lovers of colour and has a charmingly peaceful cafe and gorgeous bookshop. The gardens at Hotel La Mamounia are also a must - make a reservation for an indulgent Moroccan afternoon tea and then stay on for a wander through the grounds.
The Royal Palm Beachcomber Luxury Marrakech
A three-night stay at Royal Palm Beachcomber Luxury Marrakech starts from £499 per person with Destinology, based on two people sharing on a room only basis and including return low cost flights from London Gatwick, baggage charges and transfers. For further information or to book, visit destinology.co.uk or call 01204 824619.
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