Marrakesh is the ultimate bohemian chic destination: culturally exotic with a climate hot enough to justify wafting about in sheer, colourful caftans. The city’s newest jewel is Palais Namaskar, the latest addition to the five-star luxury hotel group the Oetker Collection.
This majestic oasis is just a 20-minute drive from the frenetic souks of the Medina. The location is truly the best of both worlds – close enough for a day excursion to the city centre, but far enough away to replace the spicy smells of the souk with the pervasive fragrance of jasmine.
Adorned by golden domes, intricate archways, stately columns and contemporary interiors, Palais Namaskar is breathtaking. Water is a main feature, with numerous ponds, private pools and “floating” pathways in a dramatic central expanse that connects the villas and spa. At night, log fires and lanterns glow and the air is filled with heady floral scents. Inviting hammocks and daybeds are scattered about Balinese-inspired gardens. Owner Philippe Soulier was adamant the hotel follow strict feng shui principles and achieved this with architect Imaad Rahmouni. (Given Namaskar’s soothing aesthetic, this partnership is surprising – Rahmouni is a former protégé of Philippe Starck.)
A double pool – no, I didn’t know what it was either until I was shown to my villa. It’s a pool within a pool: The inner seating area is heated and has water jets, while the outer is unheated and acts more like a large pond. At night, the inner pool is lit from within, and lanterns are placed on the edges to stunning effect.
Whom you’ll meet
People who stay here are sophisticated, with money to burn and an eye for designer style: from private jet owners (who can park their planes at nearby Marrakesh airport), to wannabe jet owners (guests can use the hotel’s private jet for a price).
Dine in or out?
Tempting as it is to confine yourself to your suite or villa for room service, Le Namaskar restaurant, situated beside the main swimming pool, is a must. Descend into the sultry restaurant with its dark silk curtains, or sit under intricate Moorish arches beside the water, and choose from Moroccan, Asian or Mediterranean cuisine. After an amuse bouche of truffled cauliflower soup, my comforting Moroccan lamb tagine was delivered with flourish under a silver cloche. The staff are deferential, yet not obsequious.
Room with a view
Villa No. 9 is enchanting. The villa is fronted with glass and has a huge living space with beanbag chairs to melt into. Yours for $2,150 a night.
Palais Namaskar, Province Syba, Marrakech, Morocco; 212-5-24-29-98-00; palaisnamaskar.com, 41 rooms from $620 a night.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.