Miguel Flores-Vianna and Martina Mondadori
Villa Oasis, Marrakech, the former home of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Image: Miguel Flores-Vianna.
Martina Mondadori shares an insider's guide to the magical city of Marrakech, revealing her go-to addresses, from stylish hotels and secluded spots to the ultimate destinations for rugs and haute couture quality embroidery.
Left: Jnane Tamsna, a home away from home in the Palmeraie. Right: Kasbah Bab Ourika. Images: Martina Mondadori.
Where to Stay
For those who love the buzz of the Medina, my favorite hotels are: L’Hotel, by Jasper Conran, for refined elegance, and Riad Mena, sister hotel to Berber Lodge (see 'Beyond the City').
And in the Palmeraie just outside the city, I love Jnane Tamsna. Run like a very restful, chic house by owner, Meryanne Loum-Martin, it's a home away from home with cozy, timeless decor. Meryanne - who organises candlelit dinners in the gardens for guests - makes you feel like you're her house guest, while the living room has an excellent selection of books. For more hotels, see 'Beyond the City'.
Left: Collected treasures at Kasbah Bab Ourika. Right: Saharan mats. Images: Martina Mondadori.
Where to Shop
One can get happily lost in the many souks, markets and ateliers of Marrakech, full of true artisans and real craftsmanship. Here are some of my favorite addresses:
A company of hand weavers and embroiderers created by Brigitte Perkins, this is the ultimate destination for haute couture quality embroidery. They offer exclusively hand crafted and traditionally produced classic Moroccan patterns for bespoke Interiors projects. A favourite of French designers, Jacques Grange, and the late Alberto Pinto.
Al Matjar, Souk Semmarine
In the heart of Souk Semmarine, a three-minute walk from the main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, this is the best place for rugs. They have a great selection of traditional Saharan mats from Mauritania, typically used by Nomads. 26 Souk Semmarine.
Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech, the home and gardens of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé; Miguel Flores-Vianna.
Beyond the City
Interior lovers should explore some of the new hotels appearing outside Marrakech. Berber Lodge, on the way towards the Atlas Mountains, is definitely worth a stop (even just for lunch). Set in an idyllic area near the village of Oumnass (with its glorious fort, which can be seen from the garden of the Lodge), it was inspired by Berber architecture and built using local craftsmen and resources. It's decorated with a very simple, local feel that is a real breath of fresh air. It was a joint project by the owner, French Interior designer Romain Michel Meniere, and Studio KO in Paris.
As one approaches the Ourika Valley, the gateway to the Atlas Mountains, Kasbah Bab Ourika is a must-see. The rooms are individually decorated and the common areas and gardens are a delightful escape from the hustle of the city. The mix of a terracotta palette, local textiles and rugs, and incredible attention to detail, make this hotel a real destination.
Left: Kasbah Bab Ourika. Right: Jnane Tamsna. Images: Martina Mondadori.