Hotel Sahara palace Marrakech, design by orientalist Stuart Church


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‘richly adorned’ hardly does it justice, ‘too much is just enough’.

the majestic hotel sahara palace marrakech, featuring all the splendors of moorish, indian and venetian architecture, is set on 54 hectares of beautifully landscaped gardens, surrounded by palm trees and olive groves. the property features 89 well-appointed, spacious guest rooms, including 15 luxurious suites, spread between the main palace and four riads. all rooms and suites enjoy views over the atlas mountains, the palmeraie desert landscape or the pool and gardens. an oasis in the desert, the location of the hotel is right on the outskirts of marrakech, an half hour’s drive from the city’s medina.

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during our travel to preview the upcoming marrakech art biennial in early february, designboom visited the hotel. having the vast space just for yourself can be magical. there are some obvious advantages from traveling off season, there wasn’t a lot happening and the hotel only had other few guests while we were there. after a few days on the local souks, and traveling in rural morocco, being away from the crowds and noise was very nice, though we may have enjoyed it more had it not been so empty.

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the property was envisioned and designed by the hotel owner in close partnership with the renowned american architect and designer stuart church, a full-time resident of tangier since 1960. considered one of the last orientalists (as writer william s. burroughs once proclaimed — sadly he passed away in 2014), his work lives on in the magnificent hotel. church traveled the world in search of new inspiration, including regular ‘pilgrimages’ to india. he held a real fascination for this country which is evident in his work: a mix of influences from china, india, the south of europe and morocco.the architect of the terracotta mansion (following the diktat of the late king hassan that all buildings in marrakech must be either pink or ochre) even directed the landscaping of the lush gardens. with a client list that has included fashion designer yves saint laurent and kuwaiti royalty, stuart church stated often:’minimalism doesn’t excite me.

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stuart church, the designer of the complex was responsible for everything from the overall site plan down to the delicate floral patterns in the coffered ceilings. he found architectural inspiration for the layout of his main block in the galleried courtyards of the taj mahal palace hotel in mumbai.

the impressive ceiling of the jade room, the hotel’s lobby lounge, an enormous space with three-level-high ceilings and a color scheme of rich jewel hues, predominantly jade green and garnet pink. the walls are hung with stuart’s opulent paintings and sketches of horsemen and odalisques. a 19-metre long murano glass chandelier hangs from a jewelled cupola through a central light well over the lobby.

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high ceilings and hand crafted furnitures are in every of the spacious rooms. the burgundy colored walls are hand polished and wax plastered using the craft tadlekt, a traditional lime plaster. the effect is luscious and elegant.

located in the first floor of the sumptuous palace, rooms are spread over 80 square meters with a large terrace offering a spectacular view over the hotel unique gardens and pool or the palm grove desert. the valley opens up and small terraces are carved into the hillsides to support orchards of almond, olive, apple and walnut trees.

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some of the details of the main building, such as the lacy turquoise-painted screens that shelter balconies and terraces, appear more moghul in style than marrakchi. here we are on the long balcony of the royal suite, which occupies the whole top floor of the palace.

the project began, some years ago, as a mandarin oriental hotel. then it was known as the taj hotel until the leading indian hotel group, the park hotels, have entered into management services and marketing agreement with sahara palace marrakech. this property opened under the new management effective september 2015.

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Hotel Sahara palace Marrakech, design by orientalist Stuart Church

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