Part 1 = The Hotel : Mosaic Palais Aziza
My Moroccan adventure started weeks before I arrived in Marrakech, with an email from Easyjet inviting me to visit this incredible city. They had just launched a new flight, from Stansted to Marrakech, and wanted to show us around. It continued at the airport, where I met a dozen gorgeous strangers who were set to be my travel companions for the coming days, and the whirlwind of excitement and new experiences didn’t stop until the moment I arrived back in my own bed after a perfect long weekend of hectic, mind-boggling wonderfulness in a city that has so many aspects, you could get dizzy trying to take them all in.
I haven’t a) flown from Stansted and b) flown Easyjet for a while (I clearly don’t go away enough!) and I was genuinely surprised by how easy the whole check-in and “get-through-security” bit was. There was practically no queue at the desk, and we whizzed through passport control with minimal stress. After a frenzy of airport shopping (Discounts on Kurt Geiger. Need I say more?) we made our way up to the 1 Lounge for a glass of champagne before take-off. The lounge is open to all passengers and is well worth the few pounds extra you pay – food, drinks, magazines and peace and quiet are all at your disposal. We boarded the flight, made firm friends with the people next to us (Kate from I am not a celebrity is, I hope, a pal for life), ate toasties, drank wine and worked ourselves up into a flurry of excitement, chatting about the trip ahead. The flight passed quickly and smoothly and was over before we knew it. The Easyjet crew were amusing and brilliant and I almost accidentally hugged one of them as I left the flight. I totally blame being tired. I’m not weird…honest.
I’d never visited Morocco before, and I’m a little ashamed to admit my head was filled with typical stereotypical thoughts of the country. I expected loud noises, traditional dress, dusty landscapes, scorching weather, snake charmers, winding alleyways of markets I’d get lost in and camels. Plenty of camels.
This is a country that delivers on all those stereotypes…and so much more.
(We’d called ahead and asked the Camels to wear Easyjet orange in preparation for our arrival….)
Marrakech is a city that ushers you into it’s arms with a combination of kisses that makes you feel truly welcome. From the rush of hot air that greets you when you open the plane doors, to the warm smiles of the nationals (those who aren’t having to queue at passport control, of course) and the beauty of the architecture (even before you leave the airport), it’s the kind of place that makes you feel glad you came.
This feeling multiplied as I arrived at our home for the next few nights, the Mosaic Palais Aziza. The photographs on the website are stunning, but cannot possibly do this magnificent hotel justice. As the doors opened we were hypnotised by the scent of orange blossom in the hallways, the trickling sound of water from the central fountain in reception, the delicious taste of freshly squeezed orange juice with a dash of cinnamon we were handed upon entry and the stunning melodies of the resident saxophone player dancing through the night air as guests enjoyed their dinner al fresco. Simply beautiful.
As we stood and took our drinks by the pool, myself and my travel companions honestly thought we may be in heaven. And we hadn’t even see our rooms yet.
I have been lucky enough to stay in some truly fantastic hotels around the world, which all have their own wonderful features. But when the door opened and I peeked inside to what was going to be my room for the next few nights, I gasped. And then laughed. And then jumped on the HUGE bed and laughed some more. It was incredible!
Each of the 28 rooms at the Mosaic is different, and each are equally special. I had room 7, on the upper floor of the main building, and it was perfect. The suite was as long as half my flat in London, and along with the gigantic, high bed (which made me feel like a princess) there was a sofa area, a real fire (for the colder months, not when it’s 40º) a beautiful terrace overlooking the sensational pool and a bathroom that you could have held a party in. The hotel is fairly new (it opened in 2012) and the fixtures and fittings are all excellent quality, with rainforest shower heads in the shower cubicle (that’s easily big enough for two), double sinks, a toilet and bidet section you can shut off and best of all, a jacuzzi bath – ideal for someone with as many aches and pains as I had after travelling. I made use of this in the half an hour we had before dinner, and marvelled at my surroundings. I felt like the luckiest girl on earth.
Amazingly, my room (lush as it was) wasn’t even the nicest of our group. Others had private villas with their own gardens – simply amazing. We came to the conclusion there’s no such a thing as a “bad” room here. They’re all fabulous.
We ate at the hotel a number of times, at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and am happy to report the food at the Mosaic was as special as everything else. Don’t expect an adequate buffet style dining experience here – each dish is lovingly prepared by the team of chefs and was equal to some of the nicer restaurants I’ve eaten at in London. From perfectly poached eggs at breakfast (with plenty of other fresh options too), to a mixture of salads and fresh grilled fish at lunch to beautiful plump scallops or traditional tagines under the moonlight. The restaurants serve a mixture of modern European and traditional Moroccan cuisine – and even the room service burger is excellent. (You have to try the burger, don’t you?!)
One of the (other) big benefits of staying at the Mosaic Palais Aziza, is the sensational spa. Set below the hotel, it’s a dark, cavernous space with a number of private treatment rooms on a par with many of the spas in London. I had a massage, and the therapists hands were expert and the experience was blissful. The treatment rooms are cool and calming, and once your treatment finishes, you get to relax in a bright space on day beds, with traditional music playing (we had a live musician while we were there), a selection of drinks and the offer of a henna tattoo, which I gladly accepted.
So much about this hotel is wonderful – from the beautiful pool, to the delicious food, to the lush grounds and extraordinarily luxurious rooms, but one of my favourite things, that I haven’t mentioned yet, were the staff. Every single person I encountered at the hotel was friendly, helpful and dedicated to making my stay better. They opened doors as we arrived, were full of smiles, answered any query we had in moments and were a real pleasure to chat with during our stay. The cynic in me did wonder whether they treated us a little better than other guests, as a group of journalists en masse, but I know, from having spoken to other residents and previous guests at the hotel that this isn’t the case. They are genuinely tis good with everyone – and that’s a huge plus. You’ll go home feeling like you’d be welcome back any time…and chances are, if you do go back, they’ll remember your name and treat you like an old friend.
The next few days in the city passed as a blur. We experienced so much and saw some truly wonderful sights on this whirlwind tour, most of which I tried my best to capture on camera. More on that soon…
I travelled to Marrakech as a guest of Easyjet, who have recently introduced a new flight direct to the city from Stansted. It’s quick and easy and well worth looking into, as flights start from under £30 one way! We stayed as guests of the Mosaic Palais Aziza and were guided ’round the city by the Moroccan Tourist Board. Many thanks to all involved in the trip, as it was truly fabulous. I’m clearly a convert to the glorious orange of Easyjet, as have booked another trip with them already!
- Part 2 – Things to do in Marrakech
- Part 3 – Marrakech in pictures