Hotel Highlights

  • Creative retreat in the medina centre
  • Considered design; every creature comfort
  • Incredible modern art collection

Overview

A 21-room labyrinth with three sheltered courtyards, El Fenn hotel is a serene, shady enclosure that offers an art-gallery-worthy respite from the outside world of bustling Marrakech. Lanterns light a sultry courtyard with a marble fountain in this colourful, avante-garde hideaway, complete with a screening room, carved antique wood doors and a well-stocked library.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking El Fenn with us:

Return airport transfers; members staying three nights or more will receive a traditional hammam for two

Facilities

View Gallery
El Fenn Hotel – Marrakech – Morocco

Need To Know

Rooms

20 rooms (and one private four-bedroom riad set away from the main house), most of them lofty open-plan suites, six with fireplaces and all with six-foot-wide beds and Egyptian cotton bedlinen, giant custom-built baths, and powerful showers.

Check–out

1pm, with free late check-out whenever possible.

Rates

Double rooms from $251.47 (€182), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates do not include breakfast, but guests are offered afternoon with mint tea and home-made pastries.

Also

The artworks on display are by Bridget Riley, Antony Gormley, Frances Upritchard, Fiona Rae and so on. No pets allowed – El Fenn has its own tortoises, chameleon and iguana.

At the hotel

Spa and hammam, heated marble swimming pool, treatment room, mini cinema, free WiFi throughout, massive roof terrace with dining area, hanging garden, sun deck and heated reading pools, library, boutique, painting kits (oils and watercolour), yoga mats.

Our favourite rooms

The Pool Suite, aka Room 6, is a split-level rock-star retreat with its own 600-foot private terrace with little unheated pool. Room 11 has deep-red walls, white marble fireplace, and private verandah. Room 10 is similar, but turquoise.

Poolside

Two pools. The hotel has a Carrara marble-lined pool in an serene and shaded open-air courtyard, surrounded by day-beds and a fire-pit; and a plunge pool on the roof, with a Berber-tented sitting area and sweeping views of the Atlas Mountains and the Koutoubia mosque.

Packing tips

This Moorish hideaway is a jewel-coloured mishmash of patterns and textures, which will undoubtedly bring out your artistic side. Bring a sketchbook so you're ready when inspiration strikes.

Also

Traditional Moroccan slippers (babouches) are given to guests for free in their room.

Children

Consult the hotel: El Fenn is not ideal for kids, though they love the pools, the pets and the cinema. Cots/extra bed available at no extra charge to under-12s. Babysitting available, €40 an evening. Rooms 10, 11 and the Douiria Suite are recommended.

Food & Drink

View Gallery
El Fenn Hotel – Marrakech – Morocco

Hotel Restaurant

Daily-changing Mod Med-Maroc menus based on what’s in season from El Fenn’s organic garden suppliers: country-style at lunch, polished and inventive at supper, (both €30).

Hotel Bar

As well as in the stylish Krug bar, guests are served drinks anywhere they like in the riad.

Last orders

4pm at lunch; 10.30pm at supper, unless pre-arranged otherwise. No time limits on breakfast. Can serve until midnight.

Room service

You can order up smoked salmon, foie gras, toasted sandwiches, desserts, and take meals in your room on request.

Smith Insider

Dress code

As though you’re at home.

Top table

The little table facing the fireplace in the dining room, or the end table on the roof with a view of the Koutoubia.

Local Guide

View Gallery
El Fenn Hotel – Marrakech – Morocco
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

For a guide to Marrakech and a list of great recommendations for eating and drinking, as well as tips on what to get up to while you're away, click here.

+ Enlarge
On the cusp of medina and souk

El Fenn

Bab El Ksour, Medina, Marrakech

Located by the Bab El Ksour gate, El Fenn is a three-minute walk from Djemaa El Fna square and its bustling souks; the bars and restaurants of Gueliz, Hivernage and the Palmeraie are a quick taxi ride away.

Planes

From the UK and elsewhere in Europe, British Airways (www.ba.com), Royal Air Maroc (www.royalairmaroc.com), EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) fly into Marrakech’s Menara Airport. Transfers to or from the airport can be arranged with the hotel for €30 each way.

Trains

The Moroccan state railway, ONCF (www.oncf.ma), runs inexpensive (but limited) services to Marrakech from Casablanca, Fez and Tangier. Look for TCR (Train Climatisé Rapide) trains to guarantee an air-conditioned journey in summer. You’ll find plenty of taxis waiting at the city’s charming, if slightly run-down, station on Avenue Hassan II.

Automobiles

Driving in Marrakech can be horn-filled and hectic, but if you insist, hire a car from one of the desks at the airport. To reach the hotel, follow Avenue de la Menara to the city centre.

Reviews

View Gallery
El Fenn Hotel – Marrakech – Morocco

Anonymous review

by Howard Marks , Bon vivant

A mixture of jazz and pagan ritual music blared out of the speakers of the taxi taking us on the ten-minute drive from Marrakech airport to El Fenn. Parking in a narrow alley, the driver carried our luggage down an even narrower alley to an entrance resembling that of an urban after-hours club.

A riad is a house built around a central square courtyard. Its exterior walls and entrance do...

Read more

El Fenn

Anonymous review by Howard Marks, Bon vivant

A mixture of jazz and pagan ritual music blared out of the speakers of the taxi taking us on the ten-minute drive from Marrakech airport to El Fenn. Parking in a narrow alley, the driver carried our luggage down an even narrower alley to an entrance resembling that of an urban after-hours club.

A riad is a house built around a central square courtyard. Its exterior walls and entrance door are usually weather-beaten and uncompromising. Moroccan architecture encloses space, creates a sheltered garden from a wilderness, turns away from the outside world, shuts out its noise, and looks in on a personal paradise of shade, rippling cool water, and fragrant flowers. The door’s eye-slit slammed open and shut, and the massive door swung open to reveal a smiling face.

‘Welcome to El Fenn.’

Splashes of cherry red and pomegranate pink beamed at us as we walked down a dark corridor. At the end, a neat array of about 50 pairs of sparkling slippers and jewelled trainers lay next to a large mirror. I was about to show respect by taking off my shoes and adding them to the pile, when Mrs Smith exclaimed: ‘This is art at its best?’

Feeling sheepish, I recalled that while Richard Branson had been in the neighbourhood converting a kasbah, his sister Vanessa had bought a heap of ruins and vigorously set about restoring them to the current combination of family home, boutique-hotel business, and artistic retreat. Some of her favourite and most precious works are exhibited here. A portrait of George Bush was hung upside down. A sign read: ‘I Believe in Van Gogh’. El Fenn means ‘art’ in Arabic and ‘hip’ in local slang. The double meaning made sense.

We walked through a sensually lit courtyard, past a marble fountain trickling water into a rose-petal-filled basin, and up a short flight of steps to a WiFi’d library stocked with French and English books on all subjects. In the corner was a laptop and desk diary, which served as the reception desk. Frederic, the man responsible for the riad’s final design, welcomed us and reeled off a list of the facilities. There was a hammam, a marble swimming pool, and a lounge cinema with a digital projector to watch DVDs.

All food was freshly prepared with local products bought daily at the city market or produced at El Fenn’s own organic vegetable garden in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Drinks and snacks (breakfast, lunch and dinner, too) would be readily on hand anytime. Beauticians and masseurs, including a Japanese-trained shiatsu master, were constantly available to offer treatments varying from hot-stone chakra stimulation to upper-lip waxing, either in one’s bedroom or in designated healing rooms. We were offered the choice of eating dinner now or sometime after settling into our room. Tired and starving, we opted for the former.

In a cosy, informal dining room where Moorish architecture blended with superb modern interior design, we were served a delicious and delicate feast of lobster mousse, sesame wafers, artichoke hearts, grilled sea bass with olives and lemon peel, apple ratatouille, pulses, mashed turnips, harissa, pigeon, chocolate timbale, strawberries, and two bottles of wine. Well fed, we asked for the room key and were told there weren’t any: there was no need.

A feeling of complete safety overcame us. Soothingly exhausted, we climbed slowly up the steps to our room, which had an open fire and a private roof terrace with small plunge pool. Scented candles flickered seductively. Bowls of roses perfumed every corner. A giant powerful showerhead towered over a deep marble bathtub surrounded by various oils, salts and erotic products. Mrs Smith turned on the taps. The massive bath filled with hot water immediately. Twenty minutes later, we were lying in our hooded and tasselled dressing gowns on a huge firm bed with plentiful pillows and the finest of linen listening to the silence. Unexpectedly, we fell asleep.

Next morning, I cautiously opened the door and let in streams of strong sunlight. On a stool outside, the caring staff had placed a tray of hot tea and coffee flasks, milk, sugar, and tiny cakes. Consuming the lot simply increased our appetite for breakfast. We went to the main rooftop terrace, overlooking the snow-covered peaks of the Atlas and replete with corners containing woven-leather chairs, daybeds and giant cushions to make one’s own for reading, eating, drinking, sunbathing, or snoozing. Freshly squeezed orange juice, strong coffee, home-made yoghurt, beetroot marmalade and warm croissants took seconds to arrive at our chosen table. Smells of rosewater and incense and songbirds’ melodies floated over us we drifted back into dreamland. Carved wooden doors, ornate metal jalousies, antique mirrors, intricate carvings and lanterns in alcoves, and faded rugs reminded us where we were. Perhaps we should explore.

We ventured out to take a short walk, which was curtailed by Mrs Smith spotting the horse-drawn carriages. We grabbed one. Anxious to please, the toothless driver, proud of his city, took us for a ride around the sights of Marrakech. He stopped at a herbalist whose shelves were stacked with jars of medicinal plants, dried flowers, spices, cosmetics, and dyes. Mrs Smith bought some cream of argan (a tree that refuses to grow if transplanted outside Morocco) and some of the diet tea favoured by Victoria Beckham. I sampled some Moroccan Viagra (red ginseng) and Spanish fly (beetle wings).

The hotel room had been thoroughly serviced by the time we returned. This time, sleep eluded us. For providing a mixture of African exotica, Arabic glamour and European comfort, El Fenn is unbeatable.

The Guestbook

Reviews of El Fenn from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on 10 Apr 2014

We loved

The hotel is flawlessly designed and a perfect relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. The staff is phenomenal, and took care of some travel plans that went wrong. You could not ask for a better hotel in Morocco.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 31 Mar 2014

We loved

The facilities were excellent, the hotel – in an old road – was exquisitely beautiful, and the service was superb.

Don’t expect

It would be better to include the price of breakfast in the room price.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 13 Oct 2013

We loved

El Fenn is my new favourite destination. We've stayed in some stunning places but El Fenn ticks all the boxes. Stylish, hip, fantastic location and truly dedicated, friendly staff make this place a haven in bustling Marrakech. The El Fenn team went out of their way to ensure my husband, one year old and I were happy. I truly can't say enough! The food and alcohol was delicious and very well priced for a hotel. The service was efficient and always with a genuine smile. Even the maid gave a pair of baby babouches to my daughter when she was feeling unwell – very kind staff.

Don’t expect

There was a tiny issue of airport pick-up timing. It could not have been helped much as was due to the king deciding to not use daylight saving the month before! I would have liked to have the snack menu available all day as sometimes we wanted something small rather than a full sit-down meal at lunch and had to wait until three for this.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 30 May 2013 no

We loved

The staff at El Fenn is amazing. From the reception to the spa to the servers to the night manager, they are all fantastic.

Don’t expect

The lamb burger needs to be a permanent fixture on the menu.

Rating: 10/10 stars