A spoonful of Islamic tradition, a dash of contemporary French chic and a sprinkle of Moroccan charm. A culturally rich combination all housed within a magnificent Moorish fortress. This is my experience of the Sofitel Imperial Palace in Marrakech…
With Marrakech increasingly becoming one of the world’s most fashionable tourist destinations, it’s no surprise that the city has seen a recent influx of glamorous jet-setters. In search of warmer climes, vibrant nightlife, historic culture and this season’s Louis Vuitton, they’re in the right place. So where are these jet-setters staying? Take one look around the elegant vicinity of the Sofitel Imperial Palace and the answer is clear.
The cosmopolitan blend of cultures hit you from the moment I walked into the grand reception hall. Designed like an authentic Arabic home, the hall is filled with a divine smell of Orange Blossom which brings an instant calming effect. Drinking in the intoxicating fragrance, I was invited to combine Moroccan mint tea with deliciously Parisian macaroons before being led up to my gorgeous suite.
Staying in a Prestige suite meant I could discover the Sofitel experiencing at the height of luxury. With two marble bathrooms, spacious lounge area and the dreamiest king size bed known to man, I could see why they call it Prestige. Not to mention the exclusive Hermes bath products lining the marble bathroom tiles – even the soap screamed opulence. The heavenly terracotta terrace spanned the whole length of my suite, providing ample room for two sun loungers and an outdoor dining table for private candlelit suppers. All 99 suites come with a terrace, and with the sun soaked pool area in the foreground and the atmospheric snow-capped Atlas Mountains framing the background, it’s the perfect place to relax when the temperatures drop. Talk about a room with a view.
A splash of Colour
The Sofitel Imperial Palace is full of vibrant art, sculptures and architecture and pays homage to the colours which have become an intrinsic part of Marrakech’s rich heritage. At the heart of the Sofitel Imperial Palace lies the incredibly chic pool area. Drenched in sumptuous colour, the poolside is framed by red double sun loungers, cushions and parasols all paying homage to the Red City. The striking shade contrasts with the turquoise water of the pool making it an idyllic and extremely sexy chill out spot. The huge bubbling Jacuzzi attached to the right of the pool makes for the perfect spot to relax with a cocktail after a busy day of sightseeing. I certainly did.
As well as honouring the colour red, The Sofitel Imperial Palace invites guests to embrace the French ‘art de vivre’ in the form of Majorelle Blue. This soft pastel blue is representative of the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, and is creatively featured around the hotel. The garden was created by French artist Jacques Majorelle and bought by Yves Saint Laurent in 1980 to thank the people of Marrakech for welcoming him into their city. After his death, Yves Saint Laurent had his ashes scattered there in 2008 and the colour has become an iconic symbol of the city.
Gastronomy at The Sofitel Imperial Palace consists of four restaurants, each with a distinctive approach to cuisine that combines tradition and the latest fusion trends for from around the world. L’Oasis restaurant is conveniently situated pool side, so whether you’re ordering a bottle of champagne to your lounger or craving a fresh Moroccan salad, everything can be arranged with effortless ease. L’Oasis poolside restaurant is at hand serving everything with an extra helping of style.
At L’Orangerie Restaurant, Dominique Oudin, the French executive chef, and Ahmed Ed-Defaa, the Moroccan executive chef, have joined forces to create a double sided menu combining the refinement of Moroccan dining with the elegance of French cuisine. It felt like a really unique dining concept, as you are invited to choose a side, or mix and match your courses between both cuisines.
A picture speaks a thousand words, and the above would say; a large terrace overlooking lush greenery, candlelit tables, a warm Moroccan breeze in the air, a cool bottle of Sancerre and live acoustic music filling my ears. L’Orangerie is the epitome of al-fresco dining. We also indulged in after dinner sheesha pipes on the terrace which slipped us into a hazy state of relaxation.
Mind, Body and Soul
With so much culinary indulgence on offer at the Sofitel Imperial Palace, a healthy balance is offered in the form of the tranquil So Spa. Along with offering all of the classic spa treatments such as massages and facials, the So Spa is home to a fitness centre which is fully equipped with the latest Technogym revolution for burning off all those irresistible macaroons.
So Spa is home to a large traditional Moroccan Hammam, a steam bath constructed from luxurious materials such as tadelakt, marble, cedar wood and burnt coppers. Essential oils infuse the misty air to take you on your way to detoxifying purity. You can even add a customary black soap scrub to wipe away all the dead skin and leave you feeling silky smooth – great preparation for any sun tan! Although if you are tempted by the delectable array of spa treatment’s on offer, the Oriental Oil massage was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. One whole hour of sensual bliss!
Once the sweating, massaging, running and scrubbing is all over, guests are left to enjoy the tranquil lounge area. After my massage I was sat in the area and given a refreshing green tea and a handful of walnuts, served in delightful ceramic green pottery.
The Sofitel Imperial Palace is a glamorous infusion of East meets West, that makes for the perfect base to explore the fascinating city of Marrakech.
Flights provided by Kuoni and British Airways, flying daily from Gatwick Airport.