Le Marocain at La Mamounia
We thought it would be rude not to come to Marrakech and visit its original luxury hotel: La Mamounia. Opened in 1923, it has played host to Winston Churchill no-less, after whom it’s eponymous bar was named.
We booked at table at Le Marocain, one of the three restaurants at the palace (the others French and Italian). It’s hard not to marvel at its splendour on arrival. After passing through security, you walk through an inner courtyard filled up to the front steps, and into the foyer. Foyer doesn’t quite do it justice. This is a shrine of marble, leather, glass and velvet. We didn’t have much time to explore – our reservation was at 8pm, so we headed straight ahead into the bar, then back into the now driving rain to cross the gardens to the restaurant.
Seated upstairs, food was served with the pomp and circumstance that should be expected. We started (as per usual) with champagne (Bollinger Grand Année), before enjoying an amuse bouche and two courses of great food. The amuse bouche was a traditional Moroccan harira soup, then I started with pigeon pastilla, and we shared a lamb shoulder confit.
By this point, we were about fit to burst, so after some mint tea, it was time to head back to the hotel. The rain had stopped, and we were able to enjoy a more leisurely wander through the gardens. Even in the dark, they were clearly beautiful, and were filled with the smell of orange blossom.
Back through the bar, and through the lobby and into the entrance courtyard… I look to my left, and holy hell, there’s a casino. Unfortunately, I was too full and too tired to drag my poor new wife into the casino while I tried to find a cardroom and play some poker.
Up until the point we set foot in the Kasbah Tamadot, we swore to ourselves that we would come back to La Mamounia. It was lovely, but also, huge. The Kasbah by comparison, was as luxurious, but much smaller, and as a result I expect much less anonymous. I personally like to build a bit of a rapport with the staff in a hotel when I’m staying or at a restaurant, and I can’t imagine this is that easy in a place as large as La Mamounia where you’re just a fish in a large pond.