Images: Marrakech’s Glamorous La Mamounia Gets a Stunning Makeover
Images by Alan Keohane
One of the last places a BlackBook writer touched down before we were all called back for lockdown in America this past March was Marrakech – to check out the splashy new Oberoi hotel there. Perhaps with the prior awareness in mind of that upcoming opening earlier this year, the city’s other most luxe hotel, the genuinely legendary La Mamounia, began an extensive makeover – which was at last recently completed.
To be sure, with gorgeous new interiors by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku (Plaza Athenee Paris, Hotel Eden Rome), it has been decidedly modded-up, without at all disturbing its considerable historic character. Indeed, La Mamounia first debuted in 1923, though the majestic Hispano-Moorish structure itself can be traced all the way back to the 12th Century.
Now strikingly bold color schemes mark the decor of the public areas and the 206 rooms + suites – no surprise, as Jouin is well-known for fearlessly contemporizing more classical spaces. They even up and moved the famous Churchill Bar to another part of the hotel, while also creating a new wine bar out of a trio of rather prodigious lanterns.
But the other big news is the arrival of star Chef Jean-Georges, who here carries on undaunted with his global expansion. Indeed, he boasts two new dining venues on site: L’Italien Par Jean-Georges, and L’Asiatique Par Jean-Georges, which is actually off-site in the neighborhood of Hivernage. The former serves black truffle wood-fired pizza and lobster/shrimp ravioli in a cozily rustic setting; the latter offers up pan-Asian cuisine amidst darkly romantic surrounds, with floating pendant lamps and contemporary stained glass.
Over the last century, La Mamounia has played host to the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Mick Jagger, Nelson Mandela, Zinedine Zidane and Nicole Kidman. So when COVID-19 does begin to recede, there is every reason to expect the star power will return on cue. In fact, travel restrictions to Morocco have technically been lifted as of October; and consider that it is a country with 1/9 of the population of the US – yet has had only about 1/40 of the number of cases of coronavirus.
And let’s face it, considering 2020 was easily the worst year in the history of hospitality, we really do need exciting hotel news such as this as we head into a very uncertain 2021. After all, the confidence to carry on with such an exorbitant renovation would have to at least spark a bit of hope amongst the anxious cognoscenti.
In our minds, we’re already booking our visit.