I’ve visited Marrakech several times. One occasion involved being spat at in the street by an elderly man when my scarf slipped in the central square, momentarily exposing a collarbone. Another saw our money and jewellery stolen from our riad’s safe, and on another, my friend and I returned to England with dysentery, leaving said friend hospitalised for weeks. Having said this, Marrakech is still one of my favourite cities, and I couldn’t wait to see and experience everything all over again.
Aman is a world leader in hyper-luxury. Renowned for their spas, discretion and architecture, they’re both understated and revered. Echoing the style of a sultan’s palace, Amanjena is located just outside the ancient city of Marrakech. Moorish heritage is reflected throughout the pisé-walled resort, where Moroccan luxury pavilions radiate out from an ancient basin inspired by Marrakech’s 12th century Menara Gardens.
The candlelit outdoor restaurant overlooks the vast square lake at the centre of the grounds, and was a visually magnificent affair. Guests are led first to aperitifs, served on low languorous chairs, surrounded by Moroccan lanterns.
The food was good, but I did find an inch-long piece of plastic in my cashew chicken, which had apparently been the twist-off lid for the sauce. Bit of a downer in an otherwise spectacular experience.
Breakfast was the real high point: served in the garden, it was both elegant and traditional. Pastries and yoghurt are Morocco’s speciality.
The resort is divided into a number of Pavilions—private villas with their own gardens, and in some cases pools. The layout is such that no residence is overlooked and each villa feels private.
Villas were spacious and minimal. Traditional in decor, they had large double-height vaulted dome ceilings and tall wooden gates either side of the garden. Best of all were the sheltered garden pavilions, where breakfast was served on starched linen tablecloths.
Who Goes There?
The well-dressed and the civilised. Aman resorts are neither child-centric nor gaudy. The antithesis of American or all-inclusive resorts, a sense of decorum is maintained at all times.
Out & About:
Amanjena’s a little way from the centre of Marrakech, where you’ll find everything from snake charmers to souks to shanty-town opium dens. Donkeys and men wielding carts litter the winding streets, juxtaposed by the magnificent 12th century architecture and an ancient sense of Arabian nights.
The Worst Thing:
There seemed to be a culture of ‘Indian Giving‘ at Amanjena—for instance, when we mentioned we were going to call a taxi to head into the medina, the GM Joanna said ‘No no, don’t be so silly’, and effusively ushered us into their waiting car without asking if we wanted it, and certainly without implying we would be invoiced for this on departure.
Similarly, on leaving, my friend packed a pair of flip-flops from our bathroom, quite reasonably assuming the resort doesn’t reuse footwear between guests. When faced with an invoice we happily returned these, but it begs the rather embarrassing question of whether Amanjena continually reuse footwear until someone unwittingly packs them, then invoice said guest for third or fourth-hand flip flops.
It was a huge shame to leave quibbling over a large and unexpected bill—invoiced for things that had been offered to us with the clear implication they were complementary. It left a sour taste in our mouths, which is a great pity as the resort is idyllic, the spa was great and the rest of our stay was lovely.
Two close friends visited Amanjena this summer and their experience couldn’t be more divergent from ours. I’d like to put it down to the staff having a huge private wedding overlapping our stay, combined with a general sense of malaise and out-of-character disinterest in guests given it was the end of the season.
The Best Thing:
The palatial architecture, especially the vaulted corridors, the spa, and the traditional musicians playing to the outside restaurant overlooking the lake.