Where to stay: Selman Marrakech, Morocco
City breaks are guaranteed to offer an immersive experience of a new culture, and Marrakech is no exception. Within just a few days you will find yourself answering the animated calls of sellers in the soukh and navigating the labyrinth of the Medina, soaking up the vibrant atmosphere. After all that time spent on your feet, however, some relaxation is certainly on the cards. The hidden paradise of Selman Marrakech lies just a 15-minute drive from the city centre, but in atmosphere feels a whole world away.
With its sun-kissed terrace and spectacular 80-metre outdoor pool, the family-owned resort is a place of tranquillity. From the sensual bespoke fragrance that fills the reception area to the tapestries that decorate the walls, Jacques Garcia’s interiors offer an opulent take on traditional Moroccan style. Black and white mosaics, sculpted woodwork, and rich purples, oranges and yellows fill the rooms. Guests lucky enough to stay in one of the five riads can relax in their own heated pool and walled garden, forming a quiet, secluded retreat that’s perfect for honeymoons.
If you can bear to leave your room – and the king-size bed, private terrace and complimentary ghoriba cookies may make it difficult – the generous layout of the hotel complex leaves much to explore. The space is expansive, but always feels intimate, and as I take a midday stroll down footpaths veiled by the shade of olive-trees, I don’t pass another soul other than the gardeners picking the fruit to make Selman’s own oil. The avenues lead to the pièce de résistance: a small herd of exquisite Arabian thoroughbred horses, housed in two palace-like stables, that are available for saddled treks, dressage lessons and, most magnificently, theatrical performances to accompany Sunday brunch at the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant.
For the ultimate in relaxation, I head to the tile-adorned spa, the tranquil heart of Selman. The therapists follow the Méthode Chenot regime, which is based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, offering guests personalised procedures. I am treated to a hammam, a traditional Middle Eastern treatment that uses eucalyptus black soap and orange flower extract in a full-body rejuvenating scrub, and the following day I enjoy a detox massage, where everything from the tips of my toes to my scalp and hair is cared for. With my skin feeling sumptuously soft, it’s time for some light exercise, so I take part in a personal tai chi session overlooking the spa’s two outdoor heated pools, moving to a soundtrack of birdsong and the gentle lapping of water.
On offer at each of the hotel’s three restaurants for those guests following a health programme are Biolight meals, which are high in nutrients and natural vegetable-based foods to complement their daily spa activity. Opting instead for a holiday of indulgence, I taste the wide variety of fine food and drink on offer. I sample rich squid-ink tagliatelle and burrata at Le Pavillon, the Mediterranean brasserie with a terrace nestled between lawns and paddocks; crème de champignons and lobster gyoza in Le Selman, the international fusion lounge where a buffet breakfast is also served every morning; and, best of all, a traditional vegetable tagine, spiced couscous and almond sweets in Assyl, the hotel’s Moroccan restaurant, where Andalusian musicians entertain diners with live folk songs every evening.
The beauty of Selman lies not just in its attentive staff, luscious green spaces or exquisite décor, but in the quiet splendour of the surrounds. For a hotel of its size and grandeur, it retains a delightful intimacy, giving you time for relaxation and contemplation before you’re ready to get lost in the lively buzz of Marrakech once again.
For more information and to book, visit www.selman-marrakech.com.
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