My daughter Lucy is mesmerized by kings and queens and palaces. What little girl isn’t? So when I told her that we would be going to Marrakesh with her grandparents and staying at the Royal Mansour, a hotel built by a real king, I don’t think she quite believed me. Here’s why you need to put Morocco’s most spectacular palace hotel at the top of your family’s bucket list.
For the family who wants the best of everything (including a private butler!), nothing compares to the Royal Mansour, a palatial resort that was built by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, a member of the Alaouite dynasty. No expense was spared in creating this lavish property, which is set at the foot of the city’s ramparts. His majesty wanted to make sure that the hotel represented the finest in Moroccan design, so 1,200 master craftsmen were hired to lay the intricate tiles, hand carve the wooden ceilings and weave the luxurious textiles that hang throughout the resort.
A gold Bentley can pick you up at the airport. As the car pulls up to the towering doors that guard the entrance to the Royal Mansour, it is clear that you’re entering a very special world indeed. With its meandering alleyways, hidden doors and ochre buildings, you’ll feel like you’re staying in a glamorous version of the medina. Lucy loved exploring the gardens, a sprawling oasis filled with palm trees and fountains, flower beds and reflecting pools. One of the things she loved most was checking out the little songbirds that live in the exquisite birdcage in the lobby.
At the Royal Mansour, you don’t just stay in a room, you stay in one of 53 riads. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house with several stories that’s built around a central courtyard. Each stunningly decorated riad at the Royal Mansour comes with its own story, told through sparkling tiles, romantic lanterns and colorful Berber rugs. Our riad was also filled with plenty of thoughtful, family-friendly amenities, including mini bathrobes, a stepping stool in the bathroom, picture books, art supplies and board games.
Everyone staying at the Royal Mansour is assigned a butler, who will cater to your every need. Feel like an afternoon snack? No need to call room service. The butler will miraculously appear. Every morning, Kamal served a sinfully delicious breakfast spread in our private dining room or on the roof of the riad. He also set up a play tent on the roof for Lucy to live out her Arabian dreams.
The hotel has two beautiful infinity-edge swimming pools, but we rarely spent any time there. On the top floor of our riad was a lovely plunge pool with views of the colorful rooftops. The butler made sure that we had everything we could ever want, from inflatable toys to chic straw hats in multiple sizes, even kids’ sunscreen.
The kids’ club, called Lila’s Garden, welcomes children between the ages of 4 and 10. It’s a colorful, welcoming space with a giant map of the country on the wall that tells that story of Morocco through fanciful illustrations. Children can learn to speak Arabic, dress up like royalty, have little tea parties and go for treasure hunts throughout the palace. While Lucy spent time here, bonding with children from all over the world, her grandmother and I snuck off to the spa, a hushed sanctuary where we enjoyed a traditional hammam treatment.
When you’re staying at the Royal Mansour, you’ll hardly want to leave the hotel, let alone your riad. But one of the wonderful things about staying at the Royal Mansour is its location, set on the edge of the ancient medina. The famous Jemaa el Fna square with its snake charmers and musicians, is just a five-minute walk away. One day, we hired a guide and had him take us on a tour of the nearby medina, poking into lantern and crafts shops and making a requisite rug shop visit, complete with mint tea. The next day, we explored the city, checking out not-to-be-missed locations like the Majorelle Garden and Yves Saint-Laurent museum. And then we retreated back to our secret kingdom and fantasized about how we could live here forever.
By Laura Begley Bloom