Our girl Rachael Lindsay has been exploring Morocco’s bustling capital, Marrakesh. It’s a perfect winter getaway but with over 1,000 converted riads in the city centre, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.
In less than four hours, I went from a grey London morning to the bright Moroccan sun. We had a friendly transfer to our hotel, the spacious Les Borjs de la Kasbah. It is one of the biggest riad hotels I have seen in Marrakesh with 18 spacious rooms and a huge central courtyard, swimming pool and restaurant.
Before being shown to our room, my partner and I are treated to a delightful fresh mint tea. Poured from a silver pot, served with a plate of sugary patisseries and accompanied by the twitter of migrating swallows, I truly feel like I have arrived in a storybook world.
The rooms continue the story. Each is uniquely designed with traditional Moroccan furnishings and handcrafted zellige mosaic tilework. The owner describes how the entire riad has been constructed by hand, from the decorative archways to the hand-dug swimming pool, with the help of a trusty donkey of course. Burnt ochre and peach feature heavily with brass trellis lanterns, a dark wood four-poster bed and a natural marble bathroom.
We spend the evening exploring the nightlife of the Marrakesh medina. Its central square is a drama at night, filled with snake-charmers, story tellers, and bubbling cauldrons of food. The markets stay open late, selling intricate glassware, leather babouche slippers and earthenware tagine pots of every shape and hue.
After a deep sleep, we awake to a breakfast fit for a marathon runner with an extensive buffet of homemade cakes, jams, fruit, smoothies, bread and patisseries. I particularly enjoy the pancake station with its choice of six varieties of Moroccan and French crepes, warm and drizzled with honey. The restaurant serves up the usual Moroccan favourites of tagine, couscous and pastilla, a sweet flaky pastry filled with vegetables or chicken, as well as meaty French classics like lamb cutlet and tender filet of beef.
Having the space for a swimming pool is itself a luxury in such a central location and I treat myself to a morning dip before another day exploring the city. When it comes to sightseeing, I would recommend the Maison de la Photographie with its Orientalist documentation of Morocco and its stunning rooftop views, the newly opened city-centre oasis, the ‘Secret Garden’ and Yves Saint Laurent’s pristine gift to Marrakesh: Le Jardin Majorelle with its memorial, cacti and trendy tearoom. For shopping, there are plenty of excellent boutique stores, from the centrally located Max&Jan with its keepsakes, kaftans and striped jumpsuits made in-store on a handloom to the furniture and linens inspired by local craft and designed by Martin Raffone at maisonLAB.
After all the shopping, mint tea drinking and medina exploring, the relaxing riad of Les Borjs de la Kasbah is the perfect place to which to return. With a heated swimming pool in winter and cooling courtyards in summer, this is the riad for all seasons and our top recommendation of the many riads in Marrakesh.
For more information visit lesborjsdelakasbah.com.