By John O’Ceallaigh
As well as being home to many of Africa’s best resorts, Marrakech makes a great place to host a house party. In the centre of the city, many of its small riad hotels can easily and affordably be booked out for exclusive-gatherings; and then there are the numerous slick, stylish primary/second/third/fourth homes of the city’s wealthy fashion set that are often made available for private hire too, like Villa D.
The ‘D’ here refers to the property’s owner, who is French and male but otherwise anonymous; the villa is his long-term home which has only recently been made available for rental.
For anyone with an interest in architecture and design, Villa D is one of the most compelling properties to be found in or around the Red City. Located on the road to Ouazazate, about 15km from the medina, it is the first building in Morocco to have been designed by Paris-based Studio KO, an architectural studio now known throughout the country following their work on the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, which opened in Marrakech in 2017.
Travellers familiar with that attraction will discern Studio KO’s minimalist style here, but the place really does feel cosy, homely, welcoming and beautiful (interiors felt, to me, kind of like those designed by wabi sabi specialist Axel Vervoordt, who designed the penthouse suites at The Greenwich Hotel in New York and Munich’s Bayerischer Hof). At the end of a long road that is lined with olive trees and surrounded by well-tended six-hectare grounds that includes vegetable gardens, orchards and a surprising carousel of animals that extends from a free-roaming peacock to docile donkeys, the home’s hub is a succession of ochre-walled rooms that includes two living rooms with working fireplaces, a library and dining room.
Explore more and you’ll find a surprisingly well-equipped spa area, with a massage room and a sprawling hammam; extending 25 metres, the outdoor pool feels generous too and there are various shaded alcoves and outdoor areas where disparate groups of guests can gather to chat or read. Majd, Villa D’s manager, is more than happy to organise bespoke experiences too, perhaps organising al fresco candlelit dinners under the olive trees, or arranging for bands and DJs to soundtrack impromptu soirees. The house is regularly hired out for birthday parties and family get-togethers, and its design credentials means fashion brands occasionally orchestrate glamorous takeovers too.
For larger bookings, it works out better if groups know each other well. Villa D accommodates 14 guests across seven bedrooms, with four of those terraced along a ground-floor hallway and sharing washing facilities in the form of a fancy-industrial-gym-style succession of shower cubicles and sinks in a washroom placed at the end of the corridor. Those bedrooms are stylish but small, at about 12sq metres apiece.
Villa D also holds two larger standalone suites, each about 35sq metres, with a shared terrace and indoor and outdoor showers. On the first floor, the master suite is immense in comparison, at 100sq metres, and is very beautiful. (During my visit I was told an edition of Vogue had recently done a shoot within the space.) A private terrace sits at one end of the suite and there’s a standalone tub plonked in its centre, right by a central fireplace. If there’s one potential misstep here it’s that a large feature window, from almost-floor to near-ceiling, comprises a single pane that swings inwards when you open it. It reminded me of that scene in Sex & The City where the faded, tragic party girl Lexi Featherton fell through a similar window from a New York skyscraper and plummeted to her death. Luckily the drop isn’t quite so precipitous here.
Alongside the main house, the grounds contain another compound, more rustic and traditionally Moroccan this time, with three extra bedrooms – it’s a handy option for guests who want more privacy or to be away from the hubbub, or as discrete accommodation for staff of guests in the main house. Of course, if those guests want to experience more of Morocco’s heritage and crafts, the Villa D team can happily arrange excursions to villages and artisans that aren’t normally found on the tourist trail. Long-stay residents who might want a comparably upmarket change of scene can also easily visit The Oberoi, Marrakech for meals – it’s minutes away – or go for dinner at drinks at the Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech, another nearby property with which the property has good relations.
But if they check in for a three-night stay – the minimum booking requirement – groups of friends or multi-gen families might just spend their holiday on site completely. It’s an immaculate holiday home full of beauty, settling in here is very easy.
Requiring a minimum stay of three nights and valid for up to 14 guests, rates at Villa D cost €4,500 per night; rates include breakfast and lunch. From mid-December to early January a €400 supplement is added to nightly rates, and bookings must be for a minimum of six nights.
LUTE provides preferential rates and benefits at luxury hotels throughout Marrakech, Morocco and globally. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on what could well be Lake Como’s most beautiful exclusive-use holiday home, read LUTE’s review of Villa Sola Cabiati.
LUTE is a luxury-travel consultant and content agency that works with hotel groups, tour operators, tourist boards, airlines and more. You can learn more about LUTE here. For frequent luxury-travel updates, follow LUTE and LUTE founder John O’Ceallaigh on Instagram.