House & Garden's online editor finds nirvana at this achingly stylish Colefax-designed house in Marrakech
There are two ways to do Marrakech. Stay in the Medina; frenetic, colourful, bustling, wonderful. Relaxing? Not so much. Then there's the Palmerie - a 15 minute drive, but a different world. Deserted palm-lined streets with high terracotta walls shielding the houses of royalty and movie stars. This is the location of the , which houses three properties set in lush private gardens, which can be rented individually or together.
Ezzarah's owners the Callaghan's (hoteliers and owners of the in Gibralta, famous for world's most prestigious chess tournament) built the estate's main property , as a holiday home. It is a dream house, with every aspect engineered for maximum enjoyment and conviviality. Indeed it is still the location for many of the family's holidays. Later the smaller two bedroom was added, and finally , the location of our stay, which sleeps six.
Azzaytouna (meaning olive in Arabic) stands in its own 5,000 square metres of gardens filled with olive trees, lavender and bougainvillea. As we arrive fat, ripe fruit threaten to drop from every tree, and the only noise to be heard, apart from the occasional orange meeting its fate, is the birds.
The house is newly built in a modern Moroccan style with interiors by , whose practiced hand and exceptional eye have rendered every space as comfortable as it is stylish.
Days in pan out roughly as follows; a leisurely start, breakfast on the terrace, massages by the pool, or a hammam. Ah, lunch! That time already? Wine, read, doze by the pool. Dinner prep: a bath filled with delicious Moroccan oils. Reading and chatting by the fire. Dinner is served! Amazing tagine. More wine in the garden's exceptionally pretty Berber tent. Fall into bed wishing you could stay forever.
Each bedroom has it's own private terrace; mine has a plunge pool and an outdoor bed for sunbathing. We visit in March - balmy days, that set in to chilly evenings - and as we retire from the pool heavenly smelling log fires have been lit in our bedrooms, and the terrace is alight with candles. Every night. Like magic. They really have thought of everything.
And then there are the wonderful staff. The estate has 17 permanent staff on hand to assist guests. These include a chauffeur and two full time beauty therapists. House manager Maria can organise all the elements of your stay including shopping trips and excursions to the Atlas Mountains (although we barely leave). The food is delicious - a menu of Moroccan and European dishes that can be tailored to guest's tastes. All meals and beauty treatments are included in the cost of your stay.
Don't bother going to a spa. This is like having Babington House to yourself - if Babington was in one of the best parts of Morocco. I'm sure Daniel Craig (last person to sign the guest book) had similar thoughts. An exceptional place for a holiday. We left swearing to return.
Prices at Villa Azzaytouna start from: £1500 for 2 or 4 people per day, £2000 for 6 people per day. The price includes sole use in exclusivity and all facilities offered at the house, all meals, non-alcoholic drinks, laundry, all massage and beauty treatments and one return airport transfer for the group. A seven seater vehicle with chauffeur is included daily from 10am to 8pm. Villa Ezzahra can be taken with Villa Alkhozama, Villa Azzaytouna and the one bedroom owner's pavilion for a group of 26. To book visit