14-17 January 2014
Reviewed by Rebecca Singleton
My partner and I were recently lucky enough to have experienced a three night stay at 5* Deluxe ‘La Sultana’ in Marrakech, Morocco. The hotel is situated only a short drive from the airport in the Medina (Old town) in the first Kasbah of the Sultans. The hotel is centrally located for the main sites of Marrakesh with the Saadain tombs being right next door and the Palais’s and Place Jemaa-el-Fna being only short walks away.
The hotel itself is a hidden gem situated on Rue de la Kasbah a fairly busy shopping street although it still feels very secluded. Walking down the small alleyway to the entrance feels like you are entering some luxurious different world with traditional brick buildings and huge golden front doors. The hotel itself is laid out in the traditional Riad style of the old Moroccan buildings with the rooms facing inwards onto a central courtyard; the hotel has five different luxurious courtyards each with its own different style. Four of the courtyards are surrounded by guest bedrooms with the fifth comprising of a large swimming pool and dining area. The hotel consist of only 28 rooms allowing the hotel to feel very exclusive and relaxing as there doesn’t tend to be lots of people rushing in and out all the time.
On the day of our arrival our flight landed early which meant we arrived at the hotel several hours before the allotted 2pm check-in. We planned just to leave our bags and wonder around before check-in but the staff were so accommodating and didn’t bat an eye lid that we were early they simply showed us to the roof top terrace and supplied us with complementary mint tea and Moroccan pasties asking us to relax whist our room was prepared. From the moment I sank into the oversized white cushioned wicker chairs and felt the sun on my face I felt life’s stress leave me. The roof top terrace has 360 degree views of Marrakesh each angle being different; in one direction you can see the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in the others, the rooftops of the old median, a local street market, the mosque towers and the Saadain tombs all of which are spectacularly breath-taking. The roof top itself is a vast red bricked space divided up into different areas by striking oversized plant pots brimming with brightly coloured flowers and large Moroccan lanterns. It comprises of an outdoor bar, a rooftop restaurant, an area for sunbathing with a small pool for cooling off, a sheltered seating area and a snooker room. As you wondered around you would come across elegant little architectural details such as the tall chimney stacks and mosaicked fountains built into the sides of walls.
Our room was called the Pelican Room it was large in size and more of a suite than a room. It was traditionally decorated with beautiful carved white plaster mouldings around the ceilings and turquoise polished concrete walls with a beautiful golden pelican ornament atop an old-fashioned fireplace. We had a large traditional bathroom with gold sinks, carved wooden doors and beaded lampshades the perfect place to relax in the bath after a day of exploring. The housekeeping team did an amazing job everyday decorating our room with fresh Moroccan rose petals and leaving us traditional Moroccan sweet pastries and nuts to sample, we also had a large bowl of locally grown oranges that were delicious. The staff even came in to turn down the beds whilst we were out eating our dinner in the evenings.
We managed to sample a few different menus during our stay; we had breakfast in the hotel every morning which consist of a large selection of hot and cold options. The hot options included a selection of different styled eggs and hot pancakes, with the chiefs cooking up something different at request. The cold selections included fresh fruits, yogurts, cereals and a whole host of sweet pastries. I thought the selections were excellent and the service couldn’t have been better. We also booked in to eat at the restaurant one night, the tables were laid with crisp white linen and beautiful traditional silver wear, we sat in the moonlight next to the swimming pool with only the soft glow of Moroccan lanterns for light, there was also a gentleman strumming what I assume was a lute and singing softly in Arabic all adding to an elegant romantic atmosphere. If you’re wondering how we managed to read the menu by moonlight don’t worry the hotel had it covered, we were given individual torches so we could see. I selected the lobster on a bed of quinoa to start with my fiancé having the pigeon and almond pastry. I must say although I enjoyed mine but I preferred the pastry. For our main dish I ordered slow cooked braised beef although it was delicious I would have liked to have seen some vegetables to accompany it as it was literally just meat, next time I would order some side dishes. My fiancé ordered seabass on a bed of fresh vegetables, the fish was cooked perfectly and it was very enjoyable. My favourite part of the meal however was by far the dessert we ordered between us Lemon sorbet on a bed of fresh pineapple and raspberry sorbet with a strawberry mousse. Although the restaurant was quite expensive by Moroccan standards it was a very enjoyable evening and I was very glad we booked in and experienced it.
We also enjoyed an afternoon off from exploring the busy Souks and Bazars being pampered in La Sultanas spa. The spa has a large Jacuzzi area seating around 18, with its elegant rose marble columns, tranquil music and diffused light shining from large green Moroccan lanterns above it’s the perfect place to relax after a day out in the hustle and bustle. The spa also offers a number of treatments using local Moroccan products including, sugar with spices and honey body scrubs, facials using traditional black soap combined with plants, moisturising body wraps using Argan Cream, they also have a rage of massages. I tried one of the facials and had a wonderful lady called Bushra carrying out my treatment, she treated me like a queen. The facial was so relaxing and whilst my mask was on taking effect she also gave my legs, feet, arms, hands and neck a massage meaning I was totally relaxed. After I had my facial I also decided to treat myself to a nail file and polish choosing a beautiful deep blue channel nail varnish. My fiancé Andrew never one to be left out had a Moroccan deep tissue massage although at some points he said it was sore he said it was definitely worth it and he felt much more relaxed after it.
Overall what made our stay extra special was not just the beautiful surroundings but the staff of the hotel. Everyone we met was extremely pleasant and helpful and the majority spoke several different languages making it easy for us to communicate. We were made to feel like friends rather than just guest particularly by the reception team Saida, Khalid and Mohammed. I found them to be very warm, approachable and welcoming; they were always genuinely interested to hear how our day had been which was refreshing. Saida was even kind enough to organise a local guide for us one morning going above and beyond never seemed too much for the staff of La Sultana and this is most definitely a credit to the hotel.
My fiancé and I are both well-travelled and we can easily say this is the nicest hotel we have ever stayed in and we couldn’t recommend it more highly.