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Within Marrakech’s labyrinthine Medina is a honeycomb of riads offering maximalist delights out of Arabian Nights, each trying to top the other’s number of sheer drapes, Orientalist prints and rose petals. What is harder to find is easy elegance. One exception is Riad Mena, named after its young, German-born châtelaine, Philomena Schurer. Walking into the courtyard, one is struck by the sun-bleached white walls and the lush greenness of the citrus and palm trees. Then, gradually, details emerge: the menzeh window, the late-19th-century doors, the orange cat lapping at the fountain, a local copy of a Saarinen table. The six rooms have the same effect. Each feels sparse until one notices the midcentury-modern grace notes and the unaffected Moroccan touches. The Grand Room, with its terrace and palatial bathroom, is particularly recommended.
This is Schurer’s first foray into hospitality, but family money— much of it from a great-aunt’s cake shop in Bavaria—allowed her to travel the world via fine hotels. Her relative inexperience has drawn her away from typical amenities (like a lobby) and toward a more personal approach (those are her books on the shelves). The result feels like home. For an army of bellhops, go to La Mamounia. The small staff here is warm, obliging and knowledgeable.
The Riad is half of the experience Schurer offers. The other is her permaculture farm 45 minutes away, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, where guests can spend a day (or a few nights) in rural bliss before returning to the Medina.
Opened November 2014. Rooms from $180; 70 Derb J’Did, Douar Graoua 40000, Marrakech; 212/5243-81828; riadmenaandbeyond.com.
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