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We normally advise first timers to Marrakech to stay in the magical maelstrom of the medina, but for repeat visitors wanting a bit of peace and calm, or those travelling with children, then there are places outside the city walls that are well worth consideration. One such hotel is the recently opened and fairly magnificent Selman, located on the road leading to the Atlas Mountains just 10 minutes from the city walls.
Unlike many of the large luxury properties sprouting outside the medina, the Selman avoids the rather dull adobe walls look for majestic terracotta brickwork instead, instantly creating the impression that the hotel has - in a good way - been around for centuries.
The interiors - by Jacques Garcia - blend traditional elements such as Moroccan zellige tiles with more contemporary touches such as suede walls and the occasional vast chandelier. The 60 rooms, including 25 suites and five one- and two- bedroom riads, continue this blend of old and new with Moroccan furniture and elegant painted cornice work alongside all the mod cons you'd expect from a new luxury hotel such as flatscreen TVs.
Away from the rooms, the hotel has enough going on to mean guests need never leave the comfort of the lovely grounds, which contain extensive Andalucian-style gardens, a mere 80 metre pool, and the hotel's unique selling point - the stud for beautiful purebred Arabian horses. While the horses are too precious to be ridden, guests can appreciate them in their paddocks and the immaculate stable blocks.
Another excellent excuse to stay at the Selman is the vast and hugely impressive Chenot spa which has seven treatment rooms, four hydrotherapy rooms, three additional pools and a Jacuzzi. The Chenot brand is a serious player in the spa world with the emphasis on science, but the spa also offers the classics such as massages and facials.
In between lounging by the pool, enjoying the spa and even visiting Marrakech itself, the hotel has three restaurants, including the signature Selman Restaurant specialising in French cuisine and sushi and leading through to the lovely low-lit Selman Bar for pre- or post-dinner drinks. The Pavillon Restaurant & Bar, at the far end of the main pool near the paddocks, serves Mediterranean inspired dishes, while the Assyl Restaurant offers Moroccan cuisine in a dining room designed in ornate Ottoman and Andalucian style and also overlooking the paddocks.
So far, so perfect for adults, but the Selman also has the honour of being - in our humble opinion - one of the finest places for families to stay in and around Marrakech. There's the obvious attraction for equine-inclined enfants of the magnificent horses, but the Kids Club, next to the stables, is well thought out with plenty to entertain little ones including a small but fun playground.