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Dar les Cigognes - Review

CREATED FROM TWO TRADITIONAL MARRAKECH RIADS, Dar les Cigognes takes its name from the storks whose nests adorn the ramparts of the royal palace opposite. This 17th century former merchant’s home has been transformed into a sleek luxury boutique hotel, and the result is good enough for a sultan, with a stylish modern take on traditional Moorish design.

Set in the heart of the Red City’s Medina, Dar Les Cigognes is a jewel. Walk through the door from the hustle-bustle of the street and enter a calming courtyard where a fountain plays, palms sway and citrus trees rustle.

Shady alcoves are the perfect spot to sip mint tea – unless of course you flop into a raffia armchair in the fabulous rooftop garden, with its unfettered views of the Atlas Mountains. Don’t miss the technicolour skies here at dusk, with a myriad minarets silhouetted in the distance, the sight of snow-capped peaks in winter or the brilliant sharp colours at breakfast time. We loved watching the famous storks fly back to their nests at sundown.

Petals and stars

Inside Dar Les Cigognes, chic interiors glow with good taste. There’s a dining room and well stocked  library – each with a fireplace – and a covered bridge leading to the second riad where you’ll find a hammam and jacuzzi, a massage room and a boutique.

Eleven highly individual bedrooms in this serene and deluxe riad are steeped in the exotic, with cool stone floors, deep traditional baths, big beds, silky smooth tadelakt plaster walls and atmospheric lighting. Each draws on Moorish artistic traditions, with soothing tones, intricate plasterwork and huge attention to detail.  Return in the evening to find rose petals on your bed (and a hot water bottle in winter) and delicious cookies to munch.

There’s an ornate hand-painted ceiling in the Zouak room, while the Sahara room sports a canopied bed rather like a desert tent, frescoes on blue tadelakt walls and a star-covered ceiling. The Middle Atlas room is adorned with rich carpets and a painted frieze of Arabic calligraphy. Trunks and gauzy mosquito netting are the hallmarks of the Safari room, while the Casablanca room evokes all the decadence of the 1930s.

Other standout rooms at Dar Les Cigognes include the Silver room, with its canopied beds, silver tadelakt walls and beautifully chosen mosaics. The snug Harem room has boudoir written all over it: a brass four-poster bed, scarlet red walls and orientalist artworks. Bathrooms come with big baths and hammered brass basins.

Guests rave about this well-run riad (on-the-ball management means that service is second to none) and its commitment to first-rate guest service. Breakfast and afternoon tea are complimentary, and help is waiting – whether it’s to book a restaurant, arrange a guide, set up an out-of-town excursion or plan a special surprise. What’s more, this haven of civility is just a ten minute walk from the souks and all the action at Djemma El Fna Square.

Dar Les Cigognes was reviewed for Room for Romance by Mairiona Cotter