If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Marrakech, then you’ll understand what can only be described as the sensory overload that hits you as you step out of your taxi and into the medina.
Motorcycles whizz past, almost brushing you as they go, donkeys trudge to work with their carts and local vendors shout between each other as they sell just about anything and everything you can imagine.
One of the best things about El Fenn - a stunning boutique hotel situated in the heart of the medina, just five minutes from the world-famous Djemaa el Fna square - is that it doesn’t shy away from the vibrancy and energy of its surroundings. In fact, it goes out of its way to celebrate it.
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As soon as you arrive at the front door via a small alleyway (it’s super easy for taxis to find and they’re able to pull up just a few steps away), you feel like you’ve discovered a hidden gem.
Image: El Fenn / Saad Alami
The hotel staff welcome us inside and bring us mint tea while we soak up our surroundings. We’d already spotted plenty of pictures online, but it’s not until you’re sat in one of the hotel’s tree-filled courtyards, peering up at the impressive balconies and eye-catching contemporary Moroccan art, that you realise exactly why El Fenn is pure, utter Instagram heaven. If you’re looking for a honeymoon, hen do or even a wedding destination (El Fenn have been hosting weddings since they opened) that will give you Instagram material for months, then this is your mecca.
Image: El Fenn / David Loftus
Originally built in 1802, El Fenn (which means ‘fine art’ in Arabic) was re-discovered by Vanessa Branson and Howell James in 2002 while the pair were looking for a holiday home. It underwent a huge two-year refurbishment to create the impressive hotel that stands today – with a total of 28 individually styled rooms and suites all sitting in El Fenn’s sprawling complex of five inter-connected riads.
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Image: El Fenn
There are various types of rooms to choose from too, from intimate hideaways to plunge pool rooms and two or three-bedroom suites. There’s also the five-bedroom Annex Riad, which is where we’ll be staying, less than a minute’s walk from the main hotel. After we’ve finished our tea (and been formerly introduced to the resident tortoise) we’re escorted to our new home by one of the hotel’s friendly staff. The annex comes with 24/7 service – perfect if you have a tendency to get lost or need some last-minute tips on places to go!
A small annex room at El Fenn (top) and an extra large room
Images: El Fenn / Kasia Gatkowska
Our room is a ‘small annex room’, with more than enough space for two! It’s totally in-keeping with the hotel’s signature calm yet colourful style too, full of one-off pieces of furniture, vintage chandeliers, statement rugs and hand-stitched camel leather floors. There’s a private splash pool and lounge area just outside the front door, plus handy tea and coffee making facilities close by. For a honeymoon, it feels really private and secluded; and for a hen do or wedding we’d definitely recommend hiring the whole annex for exclusive use, which you can do for around £1,100 per night.
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The lounge area complete with plunge pool in the annex
Image: El Fenn / Kasia Gatkowska
El Fenn is in the perfect place for exploring Marrakech, so as soon as we’ve taken several (hundred) photos of the room it’s off for some sightseeing. If you’re only visiting for a couple of nights there are some must-see spots to add to your list. Le Jardin Secret is a stunning 400-year-old garden with impressive Islamic architecture, and the gorgeous Majorelle Gardens - famously restored by Yves Saint Laurent - is worth a trip just for the extra Instagram points. We loved the adjoining YSL Museum too.
Of course, no trip to Marrakech would be complete without a wander around the world-famous souks. Grab your purse, your best bargaining knowhow and head in to find plenty to fill your suitcase home with!
After a morning of exploring it’s time for some much-deserved relaxation. El Fenn has a total of three pools, one of which is located on the roof with unrivalled views of the Atlas Mountains and the Koutoubia mosque. When the heat gets too much, it’s the perfect place to recline on huge comfy loungers. There’s also a spa and private cinema room, plus countless nooks and cosy spots – perfect for losing a couple of hours reading a book or posting your latest Insta snaps. If rooftop yoga or pilates appeals then you can book both at reception, along with hiking or biking tours.
The riad's own relaxing spa
Image: El Fenn
If you like breakfast anywhere near as much as us then it might interest you to know that a pot of tea or coffee is left outside your room each morning before you’ve even stepped foot outside. Then it’s up to the hotel’s rooftop where a sunshine breakfast of croissants, fruit, yoghurt and Howell’s granola, along with an à la carte menu of pancakes, eggs (we can highly recommend the shakshuka) and tagine, awaits.
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El Fenn's stunning rooftop terrace
Image: El Fenn
The restaurant offers a solid lunch and snack menu throughout the day – perfect if you’ve just got back from a busy morning in the souks and fancy a bite to eat. If you time it right you could even take advantage of the complimentary afternoon tea served daily at 3.30pm, complete with mint tea and homemade pastries.
Image: El Fenn / Saad-Alami
Dinner at El Fenn is something special. We end our day with a meal by candlelight on the rooftop, which is served outside in the summer months or in the restaurant when it’s a bit cooler. The menu features Moroccan dishes such as their traditional Berber vegetable tagine, alongside European cuisine (book ahead as it gets busy!).
El Fenn truly is a dream honeymoon destination and the perfect spot for couples looking to explore Marrakech (while filling their Instagram feeds along the way!).
Visit El Fenn’s website for more info or click here to book a room now.