Think of the most memorable dinner views, dear traveller, and what springs to mind? Cantilevered out over the sea at Hufaven Fushi in the Maldives? Looking out at real sheep and a working vegetable garden at The Pig on the Beach, England? The highest hotel restaurant in the world, Tosca, on the 118th floor of Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong? Or, asks the gal, what about this? A 360-degree view from the third floor rooftop of La Sultana Marrakech, the only true luxury hotel, as opposed to a riad-with-rooms, in the city’s historic Medina area.
Formed from five riads, the hotel’s 28 rooms are all unique, both in shape and in what a gaggle of different designers have done. One suite is all African, with heavy safari furniture. The bathroom of Jaguar is certainly a one-off. It is marble throughout, apart from the Ottoman painting around the sunken jacuzzi tub (next to a collection of once-used perfume bottles). What else does this suite have? A small sitting area just inside the door, up 24 marble stairs to a long, mostly-brick bed and second sitting area.
Up two more steps to an office, with a library of bequeathed books in English – Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project – and French (Jane Sigaloff, Personnel et Confidentiel) and Russian. Toiletries are Clarins, WiFi is faultless, everywhere, even on my two small balconies, looking down past off-white cactus-shaped sculptures to the swimming pool.
This is a typical Marrakech keep-fit place, by the way. To get up to the rooftop I go down to the main floor, find another staircase and rise 36 steps, to emerge next to the 24/7 gym – nearby is a big snooker table which, like the gym, is in a very permanent-looking tent.
Because I am literally ten minutes walk from anything in the Old City, here, I am, like most of the guests merely up for flopping, perhaps by the poolside or up on the rooftop. Others head straight for the spa, which of course has a hammam. They use local products, here, from Nectarome. Think almonds, argan oil, cumin, and Rhassoul clay. Honeymooners get a 50-minute massage-for-two as part of their package, which also comes with a rose-petal bath, and a Royal Hammam. Actually, even without a new husband I feel like a bride. After dinner I find Jaguar‘s bed, for one, has had its upper linens sculpted into a flower shape, with two lovely pairs of embossed sandalwood-coloured leather babouche slippers on embroidered footmats.
Dinner, at one end of the rooftop, had been finest Limoges on silver display plates, on palest grey cloths and fresh red roses, plus live music. Breakfast, the other end of the rooftop, is blue-patterned white Sarah Anderson Paris china that matches the blue cross-stitched napkins, plus the music of thousands of swallows wheeling overhead. Dinner was an excellent mostly-Cab Medallion wine from the Benslimane area, with a fabulous seafood couscous: breakfast was good strong coffee in a silver pot, and outstanding home-made yoghurt (though there were fruit-flavour commercial pots for those who must).
After breakfast I looked down, over the rooftop parapets, to look at Saadian tombs, from the time of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, 1578-1603. I gaze over to the Koutoubia Mosque, with its 253-foot minaret, built during the 1184-1199 reign of the Berber Almohad Caliph, Yaqub al-Mansur. Oh how much one can learn simply by staying in this lovely, friendly luxury hotel (a Small Luxury Hotel of the World), with the 16,000 mini-shops of the soukhs and alleys of the Medina just minutes’ walk away.