“A luxurious but laid-back haven, set in orchards and lush gardens a 15-minute taxi drive from Marrakech and the airport”
Everything is striking about the 7 guest suites: the design, the rich colours, the sense of space. Peacefully housed in a 2-storey annex, 4 of them are separated from the main house by an Andalucian courtyard; the rest are set on 2 floors of the villa itself. Each is inspired by an artist - Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, vibrant Frenchman Matisse - and all feature natural fabrics, glowing colours, sofas and chaises longues, original art, quirky artefacts, vintage and ethnic furniture, and bowls of oranges fresh from the garden.
The largest is the Deluxe Suite (Sophia) on the upper floor of the villa - 70 sq.m of luxury with a carved four-poster, its own vast terrace and views to the Atlas Mountains. All but the 2 Pool Suites - Moon and Hichamou - have private outdoor space and open fires; but these 2 do have direct access to the pool terrace, making them ideal for those with children. On the upper floor of the annex, the vibrant Terrace Suites (Frida Kahlo and Ousmane Sow) - as you may suspect - have private outdoor space. Below, the 2 delectable Garden Suites, Matisse and Botero, have their own little sun-dappled gardens, where you can peek at the mountains through orange trees.
The bathrooms are similarly eclectic, each almost a work of art. There are tadelakt surfaces and pisé walls, antique mirrors and sprigs of fresh flowers, white bathrobes and lovely lotions. Matisse and Botero have sunken tubs big enough for 2, and Sophia has a big old-fashioned tub. Moon and Hichamou's colourful bathrooms have roll-top baths, while Frida Kahlo and Ousmane Sow have showers only. Do note that the suites can be booked together; ideal for a family or group celebration.
There's also a stand-alone villa, Pavillion M, which is more pared-down in decor but a great family option as it has a double and a twin bedroom, both with ensuite shower bathrooms, a living area and a small kitchenette.
Hicham's food is generous, original and created with passion. From the home-grown mandarin juice at breakfast to the sumptuous tagines and spicy seafood and coconut curries, the quality is amazing. Much of the produce is organic, including the villa’s own olive oil, and plucked straight from the kitchen garden. Wines include good Moroccans - red, white, rosé and gris.
Meals are normally served in a custom-built dining pavilion - a convivial glassy cube with a fireplace, Moroccan plaster motifs and big picture windows overlooking the pool. On warm evenings diners tend to spill out onto the terrace, or you can ask for an intimate table in a shady corner of the garden.
The menus are mostly Moroccan, though Lebanese specialities often find their way in. During our visit, we lunched by the pool: Moroccan tapas-style dishes including crostini, salads, and lots of gorgeous vegetable dishes made with produce grown in the gardens - we especially loved the baby asparagus salad and crispy pastilles stuffed with cheese. Dinners are a set menu but often begin with a spread of Moroccan dips and salads, perhaps hummus and olive tapenade with warm pitta bread.
Breakfast is a banquet of breads, lovely flaky pastries, Moroccan pancakes drizzled in honey, creamy yoghurts, jams (apricot, apple, plum from the garden) and bowlfuls of fresh figs and melon, along with just-squeezed fruit juices, mint teas and coffees.
This is a great way to do Marrakech with the kids - particularly if you're nervous of the noise they might make in a riad, where sounds carry, or want a safe, quiet and relaxing space away from the bustle of the medina. It's easy to take a taxi ride into the medina from here, or to get out and explore the Atlas Mountains.
This also works well for an extended family break - you can book the whole place (excluding Pavillion M), with staff for a special getaway.
You can add an extra bed for a child and a baby cot to all suites (except the Pool Suites which can fit one or the other). There's also a small independent villa, Pavillion M which has a double room and a twin room plus a small kitchenette and a private terrace, ideal for families.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
There's a children's menu (omelettes, burgers, grilled chicken etc) and you can discuss mealtimes with the staff; note that they will typically have later meals than you might like if you're bringing small children. Options for dining out are limited in the nearby vicinity, but the food here is terrific.
There are a few delicate objects around and the pools are unfenced, so keep a watchful eye on younger ones.