I write this onTuesday 19th September and this morning I woke up to an epic view of the Moroccan desert and the Atlas Mountains. A startling contrast to yesterday’s itinerary of LFW, street style shoots, bloggers brunches and the rapidly cooling English weather.
It was one of those moments that I sat and savoured for a few minutes. For the next week I will be working remotely from the very serene and beautiful Le Palais Paysan; a pretty hotel on the outskirts of Marrakesh, Morocco.
We arrived last night at 8pm and were greeted (as I’d hoped) by a pretty little Mint Tea ceremony with traditional sweet delicacies. After checking in we were given a very brief tour standing from the long hall entrance before we retired to our room for a much-needed sleep.
The Rooms & Grounds
With its imposing and modern architecture in washed out terracotta Le Palais Paysan looks modern and slick with touches of traditional Moroccan style. The hotel grounds are well maintained, with beautiful gardens and cobbled walkways leading down the the pool area and hotel farm.
We are staying in room 06 – a ground floor Deluxe Garden Room, which is one of only 18 rooms in the entire hotel. All the rooms at PP are exactly the same with the difference being the upstairs Garden Suites have a bath as well as walk-in shower. My sister Alice and I have a twin room with single beds and a generous living space that looks out onto our own patio with sun loungers, a dining table and breathtaking views of The Atlas Mountains. The interior is modern and tasteful with boutique touches, for example the wardrobes are painted a pretty geometric 70’s print (very IG friendly) and the white crisp sheets smell like freshly starched laundry. Alice also commented on the cute straw tote bag they’ve left out for us with flip flops and wide brimmed straw hats. All these details seem very personal and welcoming – exactly what you need after a busy week and are just looking for a place to relax for the next few days.
If there is one word to describe the atmosphere of Le Palais Paysan it is SILENCE. Apart from the odd clink of glassware and a muffled mew from a lamb down on the farm, the hotel’s silence is deafening. As a Londoner used to noise pollution it’s slightly startling at first. Looking out from my sun lounger it is only us and our fellow guests and staff for miles around.
The Farm & Gardens
Le Palais Paysan has a small animal farm about 200 metres down in the valley from the hotel, which you can walk to in about 7 minutes. They have rescue donkeys; a whole family of them, that are super friendly, love people and are there for children’s rides and entertainment. They are also in the process of buying and training horses for adults to ride out on. The Farm also has goats, sheep and chickens that lay eggs everyday for the hotel kitchen. We spent an hour down there on our third day meeting the animals and having a tour with one of the staff.
I was invited to test out Palais Paysan’s spa’s newest treatment: a hot stone massage. I didn’t particularly know what to expect from the treatment but turns out it was one of the most relaxing experiences ever. Something about having semi boiling rocks pushed along the meridian lines of your body and dug into your muscle knots is bliss.
A word to anyone unfamiliar with massage from these parts of the world: check your modesty at the door as every part of your body will be exposed during the treatment. I am not body shy at all but when it happens at my most relaxed state it never fails to startle me a little. I couldn’t help but cringe when she rolled the towel up and over my bum so my entire lower half was winking at her. They also massage your breasts and stomach FYI. I remember hoping that my nipple piercing wasn’t offending her. To summarise it was brilliant treatment. Just gotta go with the flow…
On Thursday Alice and I shared a Hammam experience. This was what I came for. A traditional Moroccan Hammam is a bathing ritual where someone else washes you head to toe in a steamy, eucalyptus scented room. They exfoliate you head to toe then follow it up by washing you with a special black Moroccan soap, which has a balm-like texture, and is known for extracting impurities from the skin. They also wash your hair and face! Alice and I went in together and one lady gave us both the treatment at the same time with the treatment normally lasting half and hour and costs roughly £35.
Food and Drinks
Breakfast is simple set menu affair of traditional breads and pastries with honey, butter and preserves served along side a plate of fruit, fresh homemade yogurt and an egg done any way you please. Also freshly squeezed orange juice and strong coffee is a must and they did not fail to deliver. However, I am not a huge fan of heavy or sweet breakfasts so the hotel was more than happy to oblige when we requested avo on toast with poached eggs (#millennialproblems anybody?).
Lunch was a mixed menu of traditional lamb chops, chicken and kofta kebabs and more European options like Niçoise salad, croque monsieur and club sandwiches. One day we decided to have a Caesar salad, however, being a caesar salad snob the red pepper seemed like a random addition. The chicken they serve at PP is all marinated in a spicy, cajun marinade which tastes awesome with Moroccan dishes but was a bit weird on a caesar salad reminding me that you should always opt for local or national dishes when dining at most hotels. Another small note would be that the chips would arrive almost cold, which I think was due to them carting them down to the pool from the main kitchen. Either way we always finished them off. We like chips.
Dinner was mainly Moroccan dishes; I tried the lamb chops one night which were delicious and I enjoyed all my starters ( I had the crab cigar dish every night). There are a few dish changes to the dinner menu every night and sometimes specials on too. The Moroccan dishes were done well but I do think they could have been a little more adventurous with the menu offerings.
Things to do
Other than the full spa offering, Le Palais Paysan has several activities (including yoga, hiking and horse riding) as well as excursions that they can arrange for you during your visit. One day we had a driver take us into the Old Town of Marrakesh so I could show Alice the Souks and engage in some bartering with the merchants. This is my favourite thing about visiting Morocco – I just wish I could bring everything I find home with me.
One final note for all you bloggers/techies/internet addicts – the wifi is not strong and we found it to be sometimes intermittent. Obviously another millennial problem that you take for granted when not on holiday but I can be a little frustrating if you are on business and require the use of strong internet when you need it.
To find out more or book a say head to Le Palais Paysan website.
Useful links when visiting Morocco.
Bartering in the souks
Rules and customs to observe