words by Marie-Pauline Cesari

In the enchanting heart of Marrakech lies a place that has forever etched its charm into my soul— La Mamounia. This majestic palace, with its blend of timeless elegance and rich Moroccan heritage, has become my sanctuary, my favorite place on Earth. From the moment I stepped through its grand entrance, adorned with a dazzling centenary chandelier inspired by traditional Berber jewelry, I knew I was about to embark on an extraordinary journey. With a history spanning over a century, La Mamounia has not only preserved its regal charm but also elevated it to an art form, exuding opulence and a deep connection to Maroccan heritage. Every corner whispers stories of a bygone era, yet it stands as a testament to the art of modern hospitality. 

La Mamounia’s story began in the 18th century when Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah gifted gardens to each of his sons. Prince Mamoun’s garden, Arsat Al Mamoun, became famous for its grand “nzaha” garden parties. Two centuries later, on this historic land, the hotel was created and quickly gained international acclaim. Conceived in 1923 by architects Henri Prost and Antoine Marchisio, La Mamounia was built on the original palace and garden complex.

The hotel has since hosted numerous celebrities. Paul McCartney dreamed up “Mamunia” here, Alfred Hitchcock wrote the first draft of The Birds during his stay, and Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé often stayed in a suite. Even Anna Delvey chose La Mamounia to showcase her jet-set lifestyle. 

A SANCTUARY OF LUXURY AND TRANQUILITY

Our accommodation, the Park Executive Suite, was a sanctuary of luxury. The suite’s vast dressing area, expansive living room, and sumptuous bedroom with a king-sized bed provided unparalleled comfort. However, the highlight was the terrace—a private oasis with two seating areas and panoramic views of the hotel’s lush gardens. Standing on the terrace, one couldn’t help but feel the tranquility that inspired Winston Churchill to paint there. 

Spanning eight hectares, the gardens are a testament to Moroccan horticultural artistry. We meandered through pathways lined with vibrant bougainvillea, towering palm trees, and fragrant orange blossoms. The serene turtle ponds and the expansive swimming pool, surrounded by sunbeds, offered perfect spots for relaxation. The presence of cats, revered in Moroccan culture, added a whimsical charm as they gracefully roamed the gardens.

A SYMPHONY OF FLAVORS 

Our Breakfasts at “Le Pavillon de la Piscine” were a feast for the senses. The buffet offered an array of delicacies—from creamy hummus and babaganoush to freshly baked viennoiseries crafted by the legendary Pierre Hermé. The selection of artisanal cheeses, smoked salmon, and fresh fruits was simply breathtaking. Each morning, the buffet was an adventure, with new delights to discover and savor.

We enjoyed a delicious cocktail at Bar Majorelles, where the inspiration for the interior design came from the iconic yellow and green motifs of the renowned painter Jacques Majorelle. The bar offers unique creations like the Saffron Negroni, featuring saffron, Malfy gin, Suze gentiane, and Cappelletti white vermouth—a Moroccan twist on the classic white Negroni. Another standout was the Ultimo, a delightful blend of Oli gin, thyme, Granny Smith apple, lemon, and basil chlorophyll, with a touch of egg white. This cocktail provided a surprising harmony between the aromatic herbs and the fresh fruit. 

At “L’Asiatique by Jean-Georges,” we were transported to the Far East with a menu that blended Japanese, Chinese, and Thai influences. Our meal began with steamed spicy edamame and cucumber with a spicy sesame vinaigrette, which set the stage with their delightful kick. The Shrimp Tempura Roll, an impeccable blend of shrimp, avocado, carrot, capers, tobikko, sesame seeds, and yuzu mayonnaise, was a highlight. The miso soup, enriched with scallion, tofu, and avocado, was both comforting and flavorful. Each bite was a testament to the chef’s artistry and dedication to freshness and balance.

Our dinner at “Le Marocain,” situated in a riad within the hotel’s gardens, was an enchanting experience too. The traditional Moroccan decor, coupled with live music, created a captivating ambiance. We started with a rich, aromatic lentil soup, followed by tender lamb tagine and succulent shrimp, each dish bursting with authentic flavors. The Moroccan wines, both rosé and red, perfectly complemented our meal, enriching our culinary experience until dessert—a Corne de Gazelle Mamounia. This exquisite treat featured almond paste scented with orange blossom water from Domaines, orange compote from the “Jardins de la Mamounia,” roasted almonds crisp from the Atlas, and a delicate cream infused with roasted almonds. This dessert not only delighted me but also reintroduced me to the pleasures of Cornes de Gazelle in a captivating new way

DISCOVERING HIDDEN GEMS OF MARRAKESH IN SIDECAR

One of the highlights of our stay was a sidecar tour of Marrakech. Our guide Hamza, an expert storyteller, led us through the bustling streets of the Medina, past the majestic Royal Palace, and into the tranquil palm groves. More than just a guide, Hamza made us feel like friends, sharing secret spots far from the city’s touristy clichés. The tour provided a unique perspective on Marrakech’s rich history and vibrant culture. 

I can’t overstate the role of La Mamounia’s impeccable hospitality in shaping our experience. Throughout our stay, we were consistently assisted by a team of exceptionally kind and helpful staff—from the porters and concierge to housekeeping and lifeguards. With a workforce of 650 people, each person exuded joy and professionalism. Their genuine smiles, helpful guidance, and unwavering support made our weekend truly unforgettable. I am deeply grateful to everyone who contributed to making our stay exceptional.

For those who recommended La Mamounia to me, I now fully understand why. I’m still in awe of the flawless experience we had. La Mamounia isn’t just a stunning hotel with a century of history, three renovations, and breathtaking architecture. It’s more than the exceptional dining experiences and luxurious amenities. The hotel is an oasis of serenity and beauty, with its expansive gardens, majestic palm trees, and grand pool. It’s the epitome of impeccable service and warmth in every interaction. This was my first visit to Marrakesh, and it will undoubtedly remain the most memorable.