Hotel Review: Les Cinq Djellabas, Marrakech
Marrakech, where do I begin?
At the start of the month, I booked a rather last minute trip to Marrakech, a city I have wanted to visit for an eternity. Now I know it's like marmite: some people love it, others hate it, but I can honestly say I'm part of the former and then some. I absolutely loved it. I'll be writing more about my thoughts on Marrakech soon (as well as of course, giving you recommendations on things to do/places to go) but for now, I'm giving you the low down on where we stayed.
For many, when they think of Marrakech they think: manic, hectic, overcrowded bustle. Chances are, those that hated Marrakech also stayed in the heart of the medina, in a riad that they managed to lose every time they stepped outside. It's easy to do as the streets are so maze-like and one wrong turn could lead you a million miles away from where you actually need to be. But if I told you I use the words 'relaxing', 'tranquil' and 'peaceful' in the same sentence as 'Marrakech', would you believe me?
Well read on...
Les Cinq Djellabas (named after the traditional loose-fitting Moroccan robe worn throughout Morocco) opened back in 2009 by French entrepreneur Frederic Velissariou, who is also the owner of top Moroccan restaurant Le Foundouk (which we didn't visit on this trip but will absolutely have to check out next time!). Less hotel, more a boutique-style residence, Les Cinq Djellabas is made up of ten eco-friendly lodges set within the Moroccan Palmeraie wilderness with a jaw-dropping backdrop courtesy of the Atlas Mountains. The lodges are dotted around the grounds, each one not too close to the next so you can enjoy real privacy during your stay and each accessible via a pebbled path. Palm trees line the garden whilst banana plants, olive trees and cacti all make an appearance too. Centre stage is the pool, which when completely still reveals a near perfect reflection of the already perfect setting. Guarded by more sun-loungers than guests, this is the kind of place you could quite happily just relax for a few days and not even bother to leave.
The design of the rooms - and of the hotel itself - is what I would call 'Contemporary North African', which is handy as when I read up about the hotel, it's described as 'Contemporary Design and a hint of Traditional Moroccan Craftsmanship'! There are beautiful design touches from the moment you step into the light and spacious lobby to the second you enter your lodge. Animal skins, design-led light fittings, terracotta walls, traditional artwork, North African artefacts, fur cushions, poster beds, roll-top baths, marble sinks and waterfall showers give Les Cinq Djellabas its own identity with stripped back spaces filled with contemporary touches. It felt like no other hotel I'd ever stayed in - almost like we were somewhere altogether far more remote than we actually were. The room pictured below is Room 9 which I would definitely say was the best - identical to the one I stayed in (Room 5) except mine had two twin beds (which didn't look as picture perfect as the poster bed!). All come complete with a conical thatched roof which is something rather spectacular to see!
Breakfast is served from 8am every morning (though if you want it at 8am, then you need to request it with the staff the evening before) and can be served quite literally anywhere you like! In your room / in the restaurant / outside your suite / by the pool - you name it, you can have your breakfast and eat it there. Breakfast itself was as traditional as they come - Moroccan pancakes (not to be confused with the style of pancakes you get in the West!), fruit, natural yogurt, bread and pastries as well as juices, coffee and the most delicious fresh mint tea. We chose to have our breakfast on the lawn in the only part of the back of the property doused in morning sun - such a simple pleasure but one without a doubt worth doing. The hotel also offers an evening meal but after reading the reviews, really wish we had, so bear this in mind when you stay!
Whilst not technically far out of the city centre (around a 20 minutes or so drive), it does feel a little like you're in the middle of nowhere. We arrived in Marrakech late at night and the taxi from the airport took us down a deserted and bumpy road very much off the grid to get to the hotel - I won't lie, there was certainly a momentary panic as to where we were being led - but panic not, as all was fine because at the end of what can only be described as "off the beaten track" was where the hotel resides! It's in the "la nouvelle Palmeraie" which is slowly going through a transformation and already the host of a number of fancy hotel resorts and golf courses. Completely away from all the craziness of the medina, it's definitely a hotel for those that want to be able to escape the hustle and bustle but also don't want to break the bank doing so staying at some of Marrakech's most prestigious hotels.
The hotel can order you taxi to take you anywhere you want to go in Marrakech (be warned: you need to ask them to call the taxi company at least 40 mins before you actually want to leave as the taxi takes quite a while to arrive). For a return trip to the centre and back, the taxis cost 300 Moroccan Dirham (which is approx £24) so factor that into your budget - though I've read up on the hotel since our trip and if you stay for more than 3 nights, taxi service to and from is complimentary (which when you do the maths, staying an extra night could just about save you money depending on how many times you were back and forth between the hotel and the centre). If the medina isn't your thing then the hotel can satisfy your needs for adventure in many other ways offering plenty of excursions just a day in advance. Next time, I'm riding a camel!
Thank you to Les Cinq Djellabas for a wonderful stay - as always, all opinions are my own.
NEED TO KNOW:
Douar al Gribate Marrakech Palmeraie, Marrakech 40000, Morocco