Updated on April 27, 2023
Update: La Mamounia’s love affair with artists has lasted 100 years! The luxury hotel provides a Beauty Break for the Soul and is a Muse to many. Congratulations, La Mamounia, for making the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List in 2022 and Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award in 2018 for “Best Hotel in the World.” I’ll never forget an afternoon when you gave a southern girl living in Marrakech an early spring.
Winter in Marrakesh is usually shorter and milder than in most places, but I was ready for it to be gone. I needed a Beauty Break. Badly. I’m not talking about a manicure, makeover, fancy frock, or new ‘do. I’m talking about the kind of beauty we find in creation — nature spun by God and art fashioned by man. I needed an artist date so I took a ten-minute ride to La Mamounia. I’d read about its splendor — the architecture, history, and drama — that make the luxury hotel a masterpiece. Also, La Mamounia’s love affair with artists has lasted 100 years.
As much as I love to write on weekends, I needed inspiration. Julia Cameron convinced me long ago in The Artist’s Way that in order to create something, we need “artist dates.” She says, “Creativity lies in paradox: serious art is born from serious play.” Likewise, Clive Matson said in Let the Crazy Child Write! that our best work comes from our subconscious — our inner child — and that child needs room to roam. In Tennessee, my artist dates were walks beside a lake or weekends where I’d marvel at the massive arches and stained glass of a Gothic cathedral hidden in the mountains. I’d return home refreshed and write with clarity. Poet John Keats was right: “Beauty is truth, and truth is beauty. That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”
Looking up at blue and out at green is what we all need. Studies show that workplace productivity increases when employees have windows with views. Natural light and green space reduce stress and boost morale. The University of Washington lists many benefits of going green, including alleviating symptoms of Alzheimer’s, dementia, stress, and ADD. Nature breaks also enhance cognitive, imaginative, and social functions.
From the moment I entered the gates, I was energized by the warm staff, gorgeous gardens, soothing waters, and palatial design. La Mamounia quenched my thirst for spring with fountains of blessings. Everywhere you look, beauty brims here.
Artists have been drawn to Morocco for its natural beauty and creative culture for centuries. For the last one hundred years, La Mamounia is where superstars have stayed … Nelson Mandela, Charlie Chaplin, Kirk Douglas, Omar Sharif, Sean Connery, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Orlando Bloom, Salma Hayek.
Until 1923, La Mamounia was the palace of Prince Moulay Mamoun, son of Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, ruler of Marrakech in the 18th century. Guests are still treated like royalty and rock stars (and yes, Elton John and The Rolling Stones slept there, too).
While directing Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much at La Mamounia, Alfred Hitchcock, the King of Thrillers, was inspired to make the movie The Birds. Judging from the way a flock of fine, feathered friends eyeballed me from orange trees while I had lunch on the terrace, I understand why.
Winston Churchill said Marrakesh was “the Paris of the Sahara” and “the most beautiful place on earth.” He loved painting at La Mamounia. Con Coughlin reported in The Telegraph, that Churchill invited President FDR to meet him there where they made history.
We are art, spun from the hand of the Creator. Made in His image, we get pleasure from creating, too. I learned at home in Tennessee that sometimes writers need to close their laptops and go find pretty. I found inspiration then in paintings hanging on the Frist Center walls, in light reflected off Old Hickory Lake, and in woods surrounding a Monteagle B and B. I now live in Marrakesh where beauty energizes me on a grand scale. No hotel I’ve seen thus far compares to this.