Needs must in a fragile economy, but the sale of a half-page ad meant the travel piece on Marrakech in Saturday’s FT had to be cut by a third. So here’s the full, unedited version, along with the photograph of one of the many reflecting pools at the beautifully designed Selman (illustrated above).
The hotel’s location on a busy road, a 10-minute drive from the airport, isn’t ideal, though it is equally less than 15 minutes’ drive to the Medina. And it’s puzzling that it’s being marketed as a hotel for equestrians when you can’t actually ride the supremely handsome but highly strung Arabian thoroughbreds that reside in its Jacques Garcia-designed stables: as fabulous equine accommodation as I’ve see this side of the Himalayas where the stables at Oberoi’s Wildflower Hall, near Shimla, are perhaps lovelier still. Only four-year-old Javad “has the temperament of a cat”, said Yulia as she showed me round. Capricious and not easily trainable then, though I think she meant responsive to having his nose stroked. Rather these horses are exercised in an enclosed ring where they’re pursued by moving gates that deliver electric shocks if the horses slow down and make contact.
The Henri Chenot spa at the Selman promises to be the finest in Marrakech (though it may face competition from the forthcoming Guerlain one at Palais Namaskar). And is possible the food at its planned Moroccan restaurant may come to rival Rachid Agouray’s superb (though eye-wateringly expensive) cooking at La Mamounia’s Le Marocain, where the lobster and spinach pastilla is sublime. There’s also no faulting Garcia’s gorgeous design, though if you’ve stayed at La Mamounia (below) since his redesign of its interiors, you may experience a sense of déjà vu, right down to his preoccupation with hanging a mirror to face the end of the bed, though at the Selman at least the point is to conceal the television.