“Dad, how many other people are sleeping here?” our oldest daughter wonders in amazement as she absorbs the room. We have just been welcomed by one of the butlers in, as turns out, our very own Riad. This isn’t your average hotel room, nor a suite, but an identical copy of a traditional Moroccan house. That’s not really surprising because we are in Marrakesh, one of the most beautiful cities in this North African country.
And we sleep in style indeed as the Royal Mansour hotel also serves as one of the official guesthouses of King Mohammed VI of Morocco. Situated on an impressive location in the heart of the city, the 5-star hotel comprises a total of 53 Riads. The lay-out of all Riads is the same: the ground floor has a central courtyard with an electrically operated glass roof. Arranged around this open-air courtyard are a dining room, a lounge, small kitchenette and a bar. On the first floor are, depending on the size of the Riad, one up to four bedrooms and as many bathrooms. The absolute highlight is probably the terrace roof with a plunge pool, or an actual swimming pool, fireplace, various lounge chairs and a traditional Berber tent with floor cushions. On top of it all, a breathtaking view of the surroundings.
One of the things the butler said during the tour of our small palace and that sticks with the children is the mention of the ‘secret’ underground corridors. So as not to unnecessarily disturb the guests, an extensive system of underground corridors and special doors has been created that allows the staff to enter the Riads. Unless, of course, you don’t want to be disturbed at all. The children are exhilarated when they get a unique ‘behind the scenes’ tour the next day and wife and children all of a sudden enter our lounge from a hidden panel door.
Really everything revolves around the wellbeing of the guests, that’s for sure. We have seldom, if ever, seen the likes of a hotel with a similar level of perfection. It already starts at the airport where a special hotel employee awaits our arrival and escorts us to a special ‘fast track’ and so we end up at the luggage belt within minutes. Next, a chauffeur stands ready to take us to the hotel in a leisurely style. In a mere 30 minutes from the bottom of the airstair to the threshold of our own Riad. In between, receiving a warm welcome at the entrance by half of the staff.
Eye for perfection and detail is most evident in the more than 1,500 craftsmen involved in building this hotel. Only the very best artisans were brought to Marrakesh to apply their knowledge and skills. The effect is unequalled. Everything, yes simply everything, is of the highest quality. You can’t come here without having any visions of the fairy tales of One Thousand and One Nights. Especially when the sun sets and thousands of lights are lit.
To many people, simply wandering through this paradise is a dream come true. Although this is an extremely luxurious hotel, it isn’t uptight or formal at all. Children can run around to their heart’s content and are being treated like little princes and princesses. They can’t get lost in the hotel grounds and there’s enough for them to explore. Even the youngest guests are sure to receive a lot of personal attention. When, for example, the youngest daughter asks for a glass of chocolate milk, she and her sister immediately get invited into the kitchen to see how the pastry chef prepares the cocoa.
After savouring this nectar of the gods, it’s time to relax in the swimming pool. The welcoming and low-key kids’ club is conveniently situated next to the kiddy pool. For the little ones, there’s loads to do: creative workshops, dancing lessons, dress up fun and treasure hunts. Teens can go wild on the game consoles on the huge plasma screen. If they still have energy left, then be sure not to miss the famous El-Fna. This central square in the middle of Marrakesh is the place for all sorts of entertainment and has been so for centuries. Early in the morning, fortune tellers, snake charmers, musicians, tooth pullers, barbers and other ‘artists’ take over the square. Around sunset, dozens of food stalls appear out of the blue and cook a variety of delicacies on searing hot coals. Make sure you agree in advance on the amount of money you wish to spend, then sit down on the plastic chairs and let it all happen. It’s only a ten-minute walk from the hotel.
There are, of course, many other sights to see in this unique city and its surroundings. What about mountain biking in the Atlas Mountains or cooking classes in a traditional Kashba. For the odd souvenir you can go to the various souks. Just strolling along the stalls with spices heaped in colourful pyramids, exotic fish and heaps of rugs is a sight in itself. The kids just couldn’t be lured away.
You may have guessed that a stay at the Royal Mansour hotel isn’t the cheapest of holidays. On the other hand, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The hotel exceeds every luxury standard ever experienced before. The three restaurants are all renowned for their high standard of gastronomy and the Spa is an unforgettable experience. Spread over three floors, there is a wide range of treatments to cleanse the body and spirit. These take place in a striking example of architecture of white wrought iron that resembles an enormous bird cage. This is one, however, that you wish not to flee from!
When we come to relax in the Spa’s second swimming pool, we experience once again the extent of the staff’s hospitality. After a long play with the children, we lie down on the lounge chairs at the edge of the pool. One of the hotel employees unassumingly takes over our role and pulls along the girls on foam pool noodles through the water while they are screaming with laughter.
# The level of service is unequalled. If you so desire, they will fetch you from the airport and take you back there as well, all part of your stay. Two concierges are at your service and, if you wish, you can even get a personal butler. Unnecessary for us, but if you want to indulge in luxury this sure is the epitome of luxury.
# Extremely luxurious, with a friendly atmosphere. Well-behaved children are in for an unforgettable stay.
# The central location makes it easy to lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh and once you are fed up, it only takes one step to retreat to this oasis of peace and quiet.
# The concept of the Riads is particularly favourable with larger families whereas if you travel with only one child or no children at all, you are better off in the smallest variant. These are likely to be cosier. It would be a shame to stay indoors but you could, of course. The high-level finishing keeps surprising you.
This hotel is part of The Leading Hotels of the World.