There are few spaces in our past year of travel that embody the spirit of the destination like La Sultana Marrakech. Discretely tucked down an alleyway alongside the Saadien Tombs in the Medina, you enter through the property’s studded brass doors into the garden of Eden.
We flopped into the plush loungers on the roof of La Sultana and soaked in the peaceful ambiance. Sipping on mint tea that was poured from the pot into our cups from a fantastic height, we enjoyed the warmth of the sun as a call to prayer echoed from distant minarets. La Sultana is a collection of 5 adjoining riads each with a distinct aesthetic, connected by vaulted halls and unified by a commitment to beauty and incredibly thoughtful service.
While the streets of Morocco are often quite plain and unassuming (aside from the Medina during trading hours) any visitor to Morocco will quickly realize the country is obsessed with interior decoration, and the real party almost always is held behind closed doors. There’s something so sultry about Moroccan interiors. Each space invites you to look and linger, from the the opulent mosaics adorning many walls, floors and fountains to the low slung beds and banquettes.
Our to do list was long and we didn’t get through all of it but here were some of our favorites from Marrakech:
- Lunch/Dinner at La Famillle – a pastel restaurant with tables sprinkled throughout a multilevel garden, they serve scrumptious vegetarian pizzas and salads. You absolutely must make a reservation.
- Shopping at Mustapha Blaoui – A one stop shop with fair prices and every home decorative item imaginable, pilled high to the ceiling and no bargaining. Come here for rugs, textiles, bone-inlaid furniture and light fixtures. Rumor has it that many riad owners rely on Mustapha Blaoui to furnish their spaces.
- Gardens and Palaces – there are many worthy gardens and palaces sprinkled through the city, of course YSL’s Le Jardin Majorelle (go before 10am to experience the quiet magic of the place), the Bahia Palace and Sardien Tombs (which neighbored our hotel) were my favorites.
- Of course no trip to Marrakech would be complete without visiting the Medina where you can find everything from the ubiquitous straw totes covered in pompoms to the highly sought after (and much pricier) Ben Ourain carpets. Bargaining is extreme here with merchants’ initial offerings are often ten times what you really should pay. If bargaining isn’t your thing, head to the government owned Artistic Ensemble Marrakech for fixed prices or the charming La Clé de la Kasbah boutique which is right next to La Sultana and stocks a beautifully curated collection of straw slippers, bath products and home decor.
I loved our room on the ground floor of Riad Bahia, which framed an unfussy platform bead with dramatic columns painted to echo the tones of Tamegroute pottery, a green earthenware created in southern Morocco. Riad Bahai’s rooms centered around a bright and airy courtyard with more loungers than one knew what to do with. I loved the many thoughtful touches throughout the property like a sunhat draped over a towel on each seat to protect against the intense Moroccan sun. As we wandered through the riads, at least 200 roses perfumed each space and were happily crowed into vases, fountains and bowls on almost every surface. Breakfast here feels biblical, with plenty of honey, dates and nuts served on pretty blue and white china. I can’t say enough good things about the staff at La Sultana, for whom nothing was too much. They even served us a hot breakfast in our room at 4am when we asked for something small to eat before catching our early morning flight.
I only picked up a few pieces of blue and white pottery on this trip, but I know that once we have a house/apartment again I’ll be booking a return ticket to Marrakech for the sole purpose of shopping!
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com