Hotel Review: La Mamounia

Leaders Club loyalty program members can enjoy some extra perks while staying at this gem of a hotel.
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Written by Ramsey Qubein
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One of the most famous hotels in Morocco, if not all of Africa, La Mamounia has long been a bucket list destination for me. I have traveled to Morocco more than a dozen times, but never stayed there ... until a recent family trip provided the perfect opportunity.

Here’s my La Mamounia review so that your next visit can be just as special.

Booking

La Mamounia is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World and its Leaders Club program.

When comparing the rates on the hotel website with those on the Leaders Club website, I found that they were the same. That’s why I booked our stay through Leaders Club.

Not only did this mean that I would earn Leaders Club points for my stay, but we would also receive a slew of benefits like complimentary breakfast each morning, a room upgrade (based upon availability on arrival), late checkout and other amenities. These are perks available to anyone who joins the loyalty program; the entry-level tier is called Club level. Who doesn’t like tangible free perks without even having hotel elite status?

I also have Sterling elite status with Leaders Club, which means I can use some of my upgrade certificates to request an upgrade in advance.

I decided to use one given how special this hotel is. Unfortunately, I received an email a few days before arrival saying that they could not confirm the upgrade, but Leaders Club automatically gave me a 500-points bonus for the disappointment.

Many other hotel brands have advance upgrade certificate programs, but when they don’t clear: tough luck.

I was pleasantly surprised at the consolation prize from Leaders Club (plus I still got to keep my upgrade that didn’t clear). On top of that, there was a late spring double-points promotion with Leaders Club, so I really racked up the points on this stay.

Location

(Photo courtesy of La Mamounia)

You cannot get more central than La Mamounia. From the hotel door, it's a short walk into the old city and its famous souk and Jemaa el-Fnaa square. You can easily walk or take a cheap taxi.

The decor at La Mamounia combines Art Deco and Moroccan designs. And the hotel has been fully renovated to refresh its glamor even further as part of its 100th anniversary celebrations. Famous guests who have stayed here include Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin and The Rolling Stones.

Accommodation

(Photo by Lee Edelstein)

The rooms and suites are mostly located in the main building, but in the gardens there are some private riads ideal for families. Your decision as to which rooms to reserve will depend on the size, design and view you want. There are four view options:

  • Hivernage neighborhood.

  • Koutoubia mosque.

  • The famous gardens.

  • The swimming pool. 

All are lovely, but my preference is for the latter two since they offer maximum serenity in this frenetic city. We had one garden view and one pool view room.

(Photo courtesy of La Mamounia)

My Park Deluxe room had a garden view, but it was the room decor that reminded me how remarkable the property and city are.

It featured dramatic archways, zellige tiles, historic photographs and beautifully ornate ceiling cornices. A cushioned headboard fronted the unbelievably soft bedding covered in Maison Porthault linens.

Despite the historic look, I appreciated having an easy-access power outlet by the bed (but there could have been more of them). Surely, when the hotel opened 100 years ago, that was not a focus.

I loved having a balcony that looked toward the garden, and it was the ideal place to snack on the Arab sweets and dates they delivered to my room.

The bathroom was equally beautiful, with an intense shower stream in an arched shower and a separate soaking tub. La Mamounia branded toiletries stocked the vanities and got replenished during turndown service.

Our other room was a pool and garden-facing Agdal Suite on a high floor. Its panoramic balcony overlooked the entire grounds and the surrounding city and Atlas Mountains.

This was more like a junior suite with an open-plan living area and bedroom. The bathroom had a dual vanity plus a separate walk-in closet. All of the accommodations had welcome bowls of fruit, Havaianas flip flops, robes and elaborate fabrics.

I found the service to be friendly and doting. I really appreciated the glass bottles of water replenished constantly (important for the dry desert air), the way they would fold clothes that I left laying around, and the beautiful leather wallet that comes with the room key for every guest.

Food and Beverage

The four main restaurants serve excellent cuisine from different culinary backgrounds. The options are varied enough that one could dine in a different venue each night, which we did.

Le Marocain

Le Marocain serves Moroccan food with live music in the background. The restaurant is within the gardens and has both indoor and outdoor seating.

We shared the Moroccan appetizer spread that had a dozen small plates of different dips, vegetables and grilled meats. It was delicious. For the main course, we ordered a mix of tagine dishes and grilled fish.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten

For lunch one day, we ate at one of the two Jean-Georges Vongerichten outlets at the hotel. L’Italien par Jean-Georges had perfectly al dente pasta and an array of salads using local ingredients. We enjoyed the air conditioning during the midday heat.

L’Asiatique par Jean-Georges

Another evening, we had pan-Asian food at L’Asiatique par Jean-Georges, which ranged from Thai curries to sushi platters. Our garden seating was really pleasant once the sun had set. We paired our meal with Moroccan wine, which was tasty.

Le Pavillon de la Piscine

Le Pavillon de la Piscine — poolside buffet venue where breakfast was served — became my highlight each morning.

We always managed to get a seat in the front row of lines of umbrella-shaded tables facing the pool. There, we tucked into the amazing spread of dips, fruits, vegetables, pastries, cheeses and hot dishes that were part of our included breakfast.

You could also order egg dishes from a menu, also complimentary. I always had harira (a traditional Moroccan soup with tomato, chickpeas, vegetables and lamb) for breakfast. It’s one of my favorites whenever I'm in Morocco.

Le Bar Majorelle

Before dinner, we stopped into the main bar, Le Bar Majorelle, to enjoy the live music and Moroccan architecture with the garden in the background.

With each drink came a trio of nuts including smoked almonds, pistachios and salted cashews, plus local olives (yum!).

Amenities

(Photo by Lee Edelstein)

The public areas are like a museum with chandeliers, art, old photographs and retail outlets.

Every turn you take leads you into another courtyard with splashing fountains and archways. These are ideal spots to have Moroccan mint tea in the afternoon from the two venues serving Pierre Hermé bites and sips.

(Photo by Lee Edelstein)

Beyond one of the courtyards is the lavish spa with another indoor pool, hammam and relaxation areas. While I didn’t use the gyms, I visited both of them (one of which is reserved for women). The unisex gym is located within the gardens.

Open to the public, the gardens are awash in orange and palm trees, blossoming flowers and plenty of shady areas to sit. It’s the perfect retreat after touring in the heat.

The enormous pool, however, is reserved for hotel guests. The staff sets up towels, brings sunscreen, wipes clean sunglasses and offers up chilled towels as guests enjoy the sun. It’s an oasis in the desert.

If you have the time, it’s possible to catch a movie in the hotel’s private cinema or play billiards in the game room.

How to get to La Mamounia

Marrakech does not have long-haul flights from the U.S., but the connection to Casablanca and many European hubs is easy.

Royal Air Maroc flies frequently to Casablanca, and its membership in the Oneworld alliance means that you can earn or redeem Alaska or American miles for a flight.

According to the American AAdvantage partner award chart, Morocco is part of the Europe region. This means that a one-way main cabin redemption is 30,000 miles each way and 57,500 miles each way in business class.

When using Alaska Mileage Plan miles, an economy class redemption is 50,000 miles each way and 100,000 miles each way in business. It’s clear that American offers better value.

The hotel is about a 10-minute drive from the international airport within the Hivernage neighborhood of the city.

If you’re looking to stay at La Mamounia

My two-night stay at La Mamounia was truly something special, but it was the perks from Leaders Club and amazing staff service that pushed it over the top.

While I didn’t get a suite upgrade for one of the two rooms (we paid for the other suite), it was nice to get the 500 bonus points as a gift.

The location and history of this property make it one of the best in the city and on the continent. If you want to really feel like you’re in Morocco, you cannot beat the majesty of the 100-year-old La Mamounia.


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