Staying at Les Jardins de la Koutoubia in Marrakesh

By Courtney Whitaker

Courtney Whitaker stays at a luxurious hotel within Marrakesh's 13th-century kasbah walls.

Les Jardins de la Koutoubia offers a luxurious escape from the bustling streets of Marrakesh.
Les Jardins de la Koutoubia offers a luxurious escape from the bustling streets of Marrakesh.

Location: Les Jardins sits within the walls of the old town and is a beautiful oasis off the dusty and chaotic main road. Lush, green climbers cascade from the roof gardens and hang down into the large courtyard below. The hotel is within walking distance of Jemaa el Fna square, which comes alive at night with souks selling their wares, performers and traditional street food.

Check-in experience: We were very warmly welcomed. Bags were whisked to our room and we were served mint tea and traditional cakes while checking in.

History: Les Jardins, built in 2002, boasts 108 rooms and sits within the 13th century kasbah walls of the old town. From the roof, the Koutoubia mosque - the largest in Marrakesh — is spectacular, especially at night. Established in 1147, it was rebuilt in 1162 by the Almohad dynasty in Hispano-Moorish style. It is also known as the "Mosque of Booksellers", since it was originally located near the souk manuscript sellers.

Room: We were upgraded to a junior suite. And there was really nothing junior about it — a large, curtained balcony faced the mosque's minaret tower rising high above the city. There was a large flat screen TV, fresh fruit platter, Nespresso machine and — most importantly in the sweltering 45-degree heat — air conditioning.

Bathroom: Large and luxurious. Split into little alcoves hosting a bath, walk-in shower and toilet, all beautifully decorated with Moorish doorways and mosaic tiles.

Toiletries: By Les Sens de Marrakech — little scented bottles of heaven.

Facilities: Three restaurants; Les Jardins de Bala, serving Indian and Asian cuisine, Marocain, serving traditional dishes, and for fine French cuisine, Relais de Paris. Guests are also spoilt for choice with three heated pools to choose from, while the Spa by Carita offers traditional hammams, manicures and even haircuts.

The bed: A comfortable four-poster king bed, decorated daily with rose petals.

What's so good about this place: As well as French and Arabic, the lovely staff all spoke English and were on-call for our every whim.

Food & drinks: We dined at Marocain, ordering lamb tagine and chicken couscous, while enjoying the hotel's live entertainment. Local musicians sing along to their instruments and swing the tassels on their fez hats to the beat. Breakfast is served in the same restaurant and is an endless buffet of eggs, fresh fruit, crepes made to order, and of course, thé a la menthe.

What's in the neighbourhood: Jemaa el Fna, Bahia Palace, and Majorelle Gardens are all within walking distance of the hotel.

Noise: Be prepared to be woken around 5am by the call to prayer from the mosque, which we didn't mind. But if you need your beauty sleep, take ear plugs.

Would I stay here again? Absolutely.

CHECKLIST

Les Jardins de la Koutoubia is at 26 rue de la Koutoubia, Marrakesh, Morocco. Phone: +212 524 388 800.

- NZ Herald

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