silvia
Silvia Pisci
La Sultana Marrakech
Rue de La Kasbah, Marrakesh 40000, Marocco
5th December 2015

“The best riad in Marrakech” is the first thing everybody says when you mention La Sultana. But would RASK’s merciless insiders say the same? Silvia’s experience was one of a kind. Read on to find out why…

Location
One of the best things of La Sultana is certainly its location, in the very heart of the Medina. The hotel is an incredibly peaceful oasis amidst the vibrant life of the Suk, with its shops, spices and colors. There is nothing more enjoyable than an early morning walk before the streets get crowded with tourists, and a cocktail from the rooftop terrace with a wonderful view over the Medina.
It takes only 15 minutes to reach the airport.
Who stays?
La Sultana is the place for travellers who like to explore Marrakech, get lost in its little streets, but then come back and enjoy a very tranquil, refined atmosphere. This is certainly not the hotel you’d choose if you want to have fun and meet a young crowd, but it’s definitely a great choice if you like privacy and sophisticated ambience.
I’ve met quite a few English couples, some Dutch, Germans and Europeans in general, while not many Arab guests (comparing other hotels in Marrakech). Several interconnecting rooms make La Sultana a good option for families too, although you shouldn’t count on any particular child-friendly facilities…
Style and Character
The configuration of the hotel is such that, despite its big dimensions, it feels very intimate and quiet in every corner. It is composed of five original riads (traditional Moroccan buildings constituted of a number of rooms around a central courtyard), each with a different style and appeal (Moroccan, African, white, …). The predominant style, anyway, is Moroccan-chic: the warm colors of the walls and furniture blending with white curtains, table clothes and uniforms of the staff; soft music and fragrant scents throughout the spaces definitely contribute to the “a-thousand-and-one-night atmosphere” to the point that I enjoyed every time I got lost (a few!).
The peak of magic, though, is reached at dinner, when white tables are set around the pool in the main courtyard, light is provided by candles and stars only and traditional guitar is played live by an old berber.
Service
Rarely I’ve felt so pampered in a hotel, and the warm, genuinely kind staff of La Sultana made me forget about a few minor lacks...

The Front Desk welcomed me with a big smile and calling me by name, a gesture I always appreciate. They then accompanied me to the rooftop terrace, where I was served tea and pastries waiting for the check-in procedures to be completed. It was all extremely enjoyable, but it was taking too long (more than 15 minutes), so I gently pressured them… After I got to the room, it took another 10-15 minutes to get my luggage delivered.

The room/staff ratio is quite impressive – about 15 staff per room. This guarantees that everything is taken care of to the smallest details and in a (usually) timely manner. At the same time you need to consider that many of them don’t speak good English, therefore I soon identified my 2-3 Staff of reference, to whom I could refer for anything I needed.

Service at the restaurant was excellent. My waiter at lunch was able to give me suggestions about what to order, make any changes I asked to the dishes, and serve everything with a smile. The best they did for me was at breakfast the next day, though: when I showed up at 11.35 (good morning Sleeping Beauty… I couldn’t believe I slept until then!!) they just simply re-set a table and a full buffet just for me.

Again, service wasn’t faultless, but genuinely warm and absolutely up to the standard of the best hotels in Marrakech.
Rooms and Suites
With only 28 rooms and suites, at La Sultana you get enough space for yourself also on the lowest categories, especially if you remember that you’re in the heart of the old town (this is the main difference between hotels in the Medina and those at La Palmeraie, where you’re far away from the center but get much more space).
Now, my suite (named “Jaguar”) deserves a separate mention, as it was VERY big – over 100 square meters spread on two floors, plus a big balcony and a private terrace overlooking the pool. Just wonderful (and personally the best of all the ones I’ve seen there). Decorations and furniture are different in each of the 5 riads (more “solid” and darker in the African one, brighter and light on the white one…), with an overall traditional feel, although never too heavy.

All rooms feature a bathtub, and some even a gorgeous Jacuzzi surrounded by marble columns and mural paintings. Yes, I had that… and yes, I was late for dinner that night :)
Closets are big and filled with flip-flops and beach hats (the sun at noon was quite strong even in November!). Non-alcoholic drinks in the minibar are complimentary.

Something important to mention: my room was very bright but others were not, particularly in the African riad. As I understood, dark bathrooms are common in Morocco, and this can be quite annoying… So, choose your room carefully and always consider an upgrade to a room with direct sunlight.
Food and Drink
One of the best tips I can give to a food lover visiting Marrakech is: go try La Sultana.
Depending on the weather, breakfast is either served on the rooftop or next to the main pool (both beautiful settings!). The buffet did not strike me for its variety, but everything was fresh and delicious (try their home-made yogurt!).
Lunch is usually served on the rooftop, where they set up an amazing meat & fish barbeque. Food is presented wonderfully, and it tastes even better. My prawn salad was the best salad I’ve ever had at a hotel (170 dirham / 17 Euros approx.). Period. Service was great.

The atmosphere at dinner is very intimate, romantic and classy: white tables are set around the pool, candles and the stars above bring light to the space, and a traditional guitar is playing very gently in the background. I was watching the scene from my balcony, it was so beautiful that I was waiting for one of the gentlemen sitting there to propose to their lady… I would definitely have said YES!

Prices are absolutely adequate for the quality of food and service.
Features, Wellness, and Amenities
The Spa at La Sultana is another reason itself to go visit the hotel. It’s huge if compared to what you usually get in the Medina, comprising two hammams, sauna, Jaacuzzi, beauty center, massage cabins (of which some outdoors) and more… I must say I could have enjoyed it more and tried some of their allegedly “heavenly treatments” (to quote other guests I was talking with at lunch), but the weather was just too good and I felt there was no other place I wanted to be than the pool, where I sunbathed the entire morning while reading and sipping orange juice.
Perceived Value
Rates at La Sultana start at about EUR 350/night in low season… While I feel it’s a high price for the basic rooms (some of which, as I said, might be quite dark), I definitely think that the value is great from the Junior Suites up (EUR500 average for the Junior Suite).
Verdict
La Sultana is my first choice in the Medina. A visit to this oasis of peace in the beating heart of the Kasbah is an experience I recommend to anyone, even “just” for a romantic dinner or a spa treatment. The magic of this place will seduce your senses and make you want to stay a thousand and one nights.