Whoever said it’s not the destination, but the journey that counts?
It’s not often that one is invited to be the guest of a king, but that’s how this hotel will make you feel. Comprising 53 individual three-storey riads, it was commissioned by Mohammed VI of Morocco as a celebration of national architecture and luxurious hospitality. The reception area alone is a scene from The Arabian Nights and each room pays homage to the craftsmanship of the 1,000-plus artisans who helped create this masterpiece.
The estate’s winding paths and gardens provide complete tranquillity and the staff going discreetly about their duties via ingenious underground corridors give a new meaning to ‘below stairs’. The call to evening prayer floating on the breeze makes a soothing backdrop to drinks on the private roof terrace, yet only 15 minutes’ walk away is the hustling, bustling souk, where a guide will help you haggle for the best prices.
Then, it’s back for a soothing massage in the spa—or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a traditional hammam experience, which is pulverising yet energising—and an exquisite dinner cooked by three-star Michelin chef Yannick Alléno. Unbelievably, this entire other-worldly experience is only a 31⁄2-hour flight away—easyJet flies twice daily from London Gatwick to Marrakech (www.easyjet.com).
A one-bedroom riad costs from about MAD10,000 (£719) per night (00 212 5 29 80 80 80; www.royalmansour.com)