Hotel Review: Laid Back Luxury at Marrakech’s El-Fenn
Plan a visit to Morocco and the fabled ‘Ochre City’ of Marrakech in 2017,
where behind every Medina wall, the winding alleyways give way to bustling souks filled with cotton, hammered brass, carpets, pottery, and outstanding leather choices, enveloping the visitor in a wonderful sensory overload. While you’re there, find a little luxury at El-Fenn, tucked in next door to Bab El Ksour where you’ll find bohemian meets lux meets art house in this hip and colourful riad named by Mr. and Mrs. Smith as 2015, 2016 ‘Best Dressed Hotel’.
El-Fenn offers her guests wow-factor rooms, exceptional buffet breakfasts and a sun-drenched and palm-lined courtyard pool (one of three) where you can lounge away the day away from the chaos and noise of the Djemaa El Fna Square. One of Marrakech’s great private houses, El-Fenn is the wunderkind of Vanessa Branson and Howell James, who have made this multi-riad renovated hotel a bohemian jewel. With polished lime ‘Tadelakt’ plastered walls painted in a rainbow of colors and furnished with funky flea market finds and souk-sourced retro furnishings, El-Fenn now incorporates 28 rooms and suites, a restaurant, bar, hammam, library and a separate 4-bedroom, off-site private riad for those who would like to indulge their Moroccan Luxe in a more private setting. Branson and James use the soaring proportions of the riad to frame an outstanding modern art collection that covers everyone from Hassan Hajjaj to David Shrigley. The vibe is so laid-back you can easily forget there’s anyone else around at all. That’s not saying you don’t feel pampered: cheeky in-room guides provide irreverent tips on the latest hotspots including Café Clock. Some assurance (Hmm. What are those funny smells from the drains?) and finally inspiration (What? You’ve never eaten Lambs or Calves foot?). Grab an extended lunch on El-Fenn’s private Berber-tent inspired rooftop terrace or linger and lounge over some wine, and kick back on their comfy day beds and enjoy leisurely views of Marrakech and her beautiful Koutoubia Mosque. Cozy up to the many hidden spaces of the riad, and delight in its tiled nooks and alcoves where you can catch up on some writing, plow through some chapters of your vacation novel or simply sip a cocktail and enjoy the people watching. Bonus: El-Fenn is just a short walk from the Medina wall and the Djemaa El Fna Square.
Travel well to El Fenn, my friends!