It was our tenth wedding anniversary and we were looking for a short break to relax and celebrate. After much searching, we finally settled on Marrakech and the Dar Les Cigognes and we were so glad that we did, it was absolutely perfect.
It was a quick drive to the hotel from the airport and as the door opened and we were welcomed by Pierre with a smile and warmth you wouldn’t usually get from the manager of a boutique hotel of this standard. But as we were to discover, this was how things are done at the Das Les Cigognes – and this is what makes it a cut above other hotels.
Our flight had arrived mid morning but Pierre explained that our room was ready for us to check in and relax in straight away. But before we did we were treated to home-made pastries and refreshing, sweet, mint tea in the courtyard of this gorgeously restored riad as Pierre filled us in on the what we could expect from Marrakech – all positives by the way – and advice on how best to spend our brief, two night stay in Marrakech. He gave us options for restaurants, historical sites to visit, spas, markets and shops. Pierre proved to be such an affable and entertaining chap that we could easily have spent all afternoon chatting and listening to him.
Our bags were taken up to our rooms and were shown around the Riad, the Hammam and massage rooms, the beautifully decorated rooms that sat on the edge of the courtyard where you can read it private or enjoy lunch and dinner the winding staircase that take you up through the hotel to the sun drenched roof terrace that looks out all over the surrounding area. We then entered our room and were so pleased with our choice (the Oriental Suite). It was just beautiful. A large bedroom book-ended by a luxurious bathroom – complete with both stone bath and separate walk – in, tiled shower- and on the other side a lovely and comfortable lounge area with a window overlooking the royal palace and the street below.
We had booked a cooking lesson that afternoon and were so glad that we did. At 2pm we met Pierre in the courtyard and he whisked us off for a brilliant and informing tour of the surrounding area and a local market where most of the ingredients we were to use for our lesson where supplied by. Passing thorough the tiny alleys on our way to the market Pierre entertained us with the history of the area and Marrakech. We popped into a communal oven where the local brought their dough to be baked, took a shortcut through a public hammam and reached the market. Everything is close to the hotel. Pierre was welcomed warmly by all of the people in the market and he introduced us to the butcher, fish monger and all of the other stalls that were there. Explaining the local produce and how they were prepared. One of the most surprising stalls was the spice stall where we were treated to a sample of Royal Tea which was absolutely delicious and welcomed on a hot day.
After an hour we returned to the hotel and were taken to the kitchen to meet the dada and were shown how to cook a three course meal by her with Pierre translating. As we were dazzled by the dada and her skills and were allowed to help by chopping and preparing the ingredients we were treated to a few glasses of wine as Pierre regaled us with stories and entertaining us all the way. We were having so much fun that the lesson passed by so quickly amid laughter, chopping, wine and plenty of taste testing of the dishes that we prepared. We retreated to the courtyard and finished off our wine with Pierre before heading back to our room to relax. That afternoon we visited the Souk which was a ten minute walk away and enjoyed some refreshments as we people watched. The walk to and from the Souk is filled with various shops for you to browse in and we did not feel hassled at all by any of them.
That evening we enjoyed our dinner that we had helped prepare earlier, on the roof terrace… I don’t think I have had such a relaxing meal in my life. Every course was as tasty as we hoped and we were absolutely stuffed before we slunk off back to our room for the night.
The next day we went up to the roof terrace where we found a table read for us to have breakfast – which was also delicious and set you up for the day. Fresh fruit and yogurt, a generous selection of pasties and then poached eggs and toast. That day we took Pierre up on one of the many recommendations and visited the BeldiCountry Club. What a place! A wonderful pool surrounded by herb gardens and acres of rose bushes. We were instantly relaxed and we laid back the loungers around the pool and were brought our drinks orders. The Pool was gorgeous as we took a dip every now and then and was surprisingly quiet but that just added to the tranquility of the place. We decided to have lunch there too and were not disappointed.
We returned to the hotel later that afternoon where we had booked further relaxation in the form of a traditional Hammam followed by massage which I could not recommend enough, I really can’t and was an absolute bargain. That evening we went and enjoyed a few drinks at the Kosy Bar which is just around the corner and overlooks a local square before heading back to the hotel for some more drinks on the terrace.
The next day we relaxed around the hotel as our flight was not until mid afternoon. Unlike most hotels Pierre let us use our room right up until we left.
I really can’t sing the praises of this hotel enough. It was a truly wonderful experience staying there. One of the only times that a hotel has felt like a home away from home where you are instantly relaxed and looked after by the fantastic Pierre and his charming staff. It cannot faulted in any way.
We will be back without a doubt!