In Marrakech, there are more five-star hotels than you can shake a stick at, so picking a favourite is no small feat. Most are outside the medina (the walled city) and so have the luxury of space, and the Mandarin Oriental is no exception. Sitting in 50 acres of manicured gardens fit for a king, its 54 villas come with private outdoor showers as well as their own hammams, though there’s also a colossal spa on site too, as well as two golf courses and three restaurants. These surroundings and the hundreds of staff that look after them don’t come cheap: rooms start at over £700 a night – and that’s in low season.
As the writer Paul Bowles, who wrote most of The Sheltering Sky here back in the 1940s, knows, Morocco is inundated with unique experiences. In Bowles’s case it was supposedly copious quantities of drugs that fuelled the sense of alienation his novel deals with, but these days the North African country offers a far less troubling experience, the smells, colours, tastes and, of course, sunshine combining to create a memorable vacation whether you’re looking to rummage through the souk, trek through the Sahara or splash about in the Atlantic surf. But be warned, as, in Bowles’s day, it’s still a place that can be seriously hectic or delightfully peaceful, so make sure you book somewhere you can unwind at the end of a hot, dusty day.
Accommodation here varies from lavish international hotels to simple backpacker hostels, from mountain-top kasbahs to enchanting city riads and laidback beach belles to wellness retreats - with prices, especially at the mid and lower end of the scale, that are a total steal compared to Europe. Here’s our selection of the best places to stay throughout Morocco.