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Destination Dispatches: Dar Ayniwen Delights in Marrakech

- Heidi Atwal, London-based by way of California, is a lifestyle, music, and arts and culture writer. Her work and wanderlust have led her to all corners of the world, including a teaching stint in Barcelona, working as a fashion editor in San Francisco and covering film in Los Angeles. Heidi's writing has also appeared in SOMA Magazine, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, and on Condé Nast Digital.

As a London denizen who arrived in the often grey-skied city by way of Los Angeles, the perceptible lack of sunshine is especially glaring—or rather, not at all—around wintertime. An Angeleno needs her vitamin D, after all, which is why I traded London’s damp and cold for Marrakech’s comfortably balmy climes during the height of winter.

The Moroccan city ended up offering up warmth in more ways than one. There’s the weather, obviously (hovering around 21-25° C), but also in the kindness of its people, soul satiating cuisine, and cultural vibrance. All of these qualities can be found in the Medina, the city’s oldest and easily most bustling area, but also in its quieter and less trafficked outskirts. It’s in one such neighborhood, the fashionable Palmeraie district, where you’ll find Dar Ayniwen Villa Hotel. The five-star resort is tucked away behind two gigantic wooden gates (very Jurassic Park-esque, I must say), the sprawling hotel itself appearing after walking through a palm-lined path.

Just as I left London for Marrakech, I decided to forgo another night in the heart of the Medina for a palatial stay at Dar Ayniwen. And I do mean palatial: imagine seductively decorated suites, massive sunken tubs, a huge pool, and private terrace—and that’s not the half of it.

Think of this post as a virtual “Wish You Were Here” postcard, a photo diary of some of the most luxe touches I soaked up during my night at the ritzy, Juliette Binoche-approved lodgings (her photo is just one of several on Dar Ayniwen’s storied “Wall O’ Celebs” in the main office). A night in the Mucha suite was mucho, mucho fancy—the most plush in recent memory. If a jaunt to North Africa isn’t in your near future, then get a vicarious taste of the posh locale through the following snaps. I really do hope all of you make it there eventually.

Exhibit A: Rose Petals, Rose Petals Everywhere
Yes, this is one of those resorts where you’re greeted with a smattering of rose petals everywhere. And I do mean everywhere, from a carefully arranged circle on an expansive double bed, to the sink, to… the toilet.

Exhibit B: Rub-a-Dub-Dub
And speaking of the bathroom (er, just go with it), the washing up facilities aren’t too shabby, either. I spent a good, skin-wrinkling 45-minutes in the colossally sunken tub, throwing in a few wayward rose petals for good measure. As if that didn’t leave me feeling fresh enough, a perfume pantry of upmarket favorites (Creed, Gucci, et al.) was on-hand for me to douse myself silly. Trust that I did, and promptly napped in a fluffy white bathrobe afterward.

Exhibit C: The Private Terrace
My first reaction upon walking onto the Mucha suite’s private terrace was a very vocal, “Oh, hell yes.” It’s pretty easy to see why: 30-meters of space to read and relax on cushy couches, the open area overhead offering a view of Marrakech’s sky. Guests can have a traditional breakfast sent to the suite to be enjoyed on the terrace, a spread including Moroccan pancakes, orange juice à la the variety you’ll find in the Jemaa el-Fnaa, and fresh coffee.

Exhibit D: Commune With Your Fellow Guests
Despite the considerable amenities en suite, it’s a good idea to venture downstairs to gawk at the collection of vintage travel posters lining the walls and enjoy the posh sitting room. Here you can sprawl out on one of many soft chaise lounges with a book and enjoy the quiet, or strike up a conversation with a fellow Dar Ayniwen guest if they happen to be around. If you’re single and said guest happens to be tall, dark, and handsome, there’s no better place than in the conveniently mood-lit space to get a friendly flirt on. Marrakech works its magic in many ways.

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