Marrakech: Hungry for more
What to see and where to be seen
Saturday 09 August 2014
Waking all too early to the muezzin's call, I slip under a stack of pillows in my vast double bed at La Mamounia (00 212 524 388 600; mamounia.com). Just within the boundaries of Marrakech's ancient medina, I'm in a palatial suite fit for someone more important than me. From my fragile state I think back to last night – a hazy recollection of Comptoir Darna (00 212 5 24 43 77 02; comptoirmarrakech.com) down the road, where a sedate dinner soon morphed into a riot of bejewelled belly dancers, pounding DJ sets and colourful, nameless cocktails.
After a couple of hours, we headed beyond the medina's walls to Hivernage and the glitzy Lotus Club (00 212 5 24 42 17 36; lotusclubmarrakech.com), where immaculately turned out girls poured out glasses of fizz in a club that looked more like the inside of a jewellery box than a late-night drinking den.
Come closing time, we sauntered back to La Mamounia's opulent Bar Churchill, where we sank into rich red leather furnishings, listened to live jazz and sipped on expertly made Old Fashioneds well into the early hours.
Wriggling my feet into the fluffy slippers thoughtfully positioned by my bed, I wander through the ornate adjoining lounge and out on to a double balcony overlooking La Mamounia's sprawling gardens. The sun is already beating down and I'm in need of a strong coffee, so I pull on some clothes and join a few elegantly dressed guests down by the swimming pool for a vast breakfast buffet.
Thankfully, my plans for the day are suitably restorative. First on the agenda is a trip to the Beldi Country Club (00 212 5 24 38 39 50; beldicountryclub.com), on the outskirts of the city. Set within olive groves, rose gardens and tranquil, lily-padded ponds, Beldi sits in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains and is a haven for tired travellers.
I head straight to the hammam for a traditional Moroccan bath, followed by a relaxing hour's massage. It's the perfect antidote to the night before and I emerge preened, pampered and just hungry enough for a light lunch at the rustic poolside restaurant.
After a good session of tranquillity at the country club, I decide it's time to up the pace and spend an afternoon in the medina's souks. I have shopping to do and there's no better place to pick up a bargain than in this rabbit warren of shops and stalls.
I try not to get lost, before taking a detour to visit the newly opened Riad Sapphire (00 212 5 24 38 71 99; riadsapphire.com). I head to the roof terrace for mint tea and Moroccan pastries and enjoy a gentle breeze for an hour or so before heading back to the streets.
Back at the hotel, I meet with my companions for dinner at Mamounia's La Marocain, considered one of the best restaurants in Marrakech. Serving traditional Moroccan dishes transformed into elegant fine dining fare, the food is rich, complex and decadent.
It's getting late but there's always time for one more drink, so we wander over to elegant Bar Italien for a martini before bed.
An hour later, I'm whizzing through the city in a taxi, in search of somewhere to dance.
A Hedonist's Guide to ... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com
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