A beguiling assault on the senses, the rose-red city of Marrakech, named after the warm pink hue of its medina walls, is an abundance of colourful souks, opulent palaces and luxuriant gardens.
There could be no better introduction to the medina than Djemma el Fna square. Alive from dawn to dusk with Berber storytellers, snake charmers and henna artists, at night it is transformed into an open-air restaurant boasting every type of street food from roasted lamb to spicy, fried aubergine.
Seat of Morocco's ruling dynasties for centuries, Marrakech's finest monuments can easily be explored on foot including the ornate minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, the remains of the 16th century Badi Palace; nicknamed 'The Marvel' for its Italian marble and Sudanese gold decor and the sumptuous Saadian tombs with their carved alabaster and zellige tiles details.
You will also want to discover the famous souks where everything from Arab slippers to woodcarvings can be found. A highlight is the Souks des Tenturiers dyers' market where the pavestones are splashed with a rainbow of fresh tints and a kaleidoscope of newly-coloured wools and silks billow above the market stalls.
Until very recently Marrakech's luxury hotels were confined to the Ville Nouvelle. However, a new trend in renovating riads has provided visitors with some enticing options to make the most of their weekend with a stay in the medina itself. One of the finest examples of this is the Royal Mansour where guests enter via bronze gates to discover a palace of shimmering tiles, hand-carved cedarwood and intricate ceiling lamps. A verdant oasis in the city, the riads are set in flower-filled Andalucian courtyards and comprise a ground floor sitting room, up to three first floor bedrooms and roof terrace with private canopied dining area, sun deck and plunge pool offering spectacular views over minarets and terracotta rooftops and the often snow-capped Atlas Mountains beyond.
The prevailing theme of Royal Mansour is to offer a haven of relaxation. There is an extensive library in addition to an art gallery which holds regular exhibitions. Boasting a fitness centre, indoor and outdoor pools along with a traditional hammam, the spa offers tempting treatments using internationally renowned products including Chanel and marocMaroc.
Assisted by their own butlers*, guests can choose to dine in their own riad or sample one of the hotel's restaurants. Brainchild of three Michelin-starred chef, Yanick Alléno, La Grande Table Marocaine and La Grande Table Française offer authentic Moroccan and contemporary French cuisine; whilst La Table specialises in relaxed, Mediterranean dishes. There are also several lounges and bars where you can unwind, including the elegant La Loggia whose wrought iron balconies overlook the Koutoubia Mosque.