manjena seems an oasis amidst a sea of sand. In Arabic, its name means ‘peaceful paradise’. Hot desert wind rushes through spilling palms, spraying feathered shadows across the pink pisé-de-terre walls which enclose the hotel. Reminiscent of the ancient Red City of Marrakech nearby, colonnades and archways soar and fountains glimmer in the brilliant sun.

Forty palatial guest pavilions are adorned with Berber carpets and zellij-tiled floors, with Ouarzazate green marble bathrooms. Each has its own courtyard garden and gazebo, and a few feature private heated pools. The residences enclose the central bassin, an irrigation pool that shimmers and glitters like a sheet of glass, inspired by that of Marrakech’s 12th century Menara gardens. The two canals that spill from it water the grounds, nurturing hibiscus and pomegranate into bloom, and maintaining the lush greenery of the palms and hedgerows.

Throughout Amanjena, the tinkling sound of fountains fills the sumptuous lounges, where afternoon tea is served. The spa includes a marble-lined hammam, clay tennis courts, and Ayurveda, Shiatsu and Thai massage to ease every ache. Close to the 33-metre swimming pool, Arva serves traditional Moroccan-influenced Italian cuisine, whilst Nama specialises in Japanese sushi. Hidden in the olive grove, the Caidal Tent is a private and romantic place, where Moroccan food and traditional music can be enjoyed into the night.

When darkness draws in, lights illuminate the Moorish architecture with theatrical splendour. The bassin becomes a mirror, reflecting the archways, palms and stars above, until a breeze sweeps in, rippling the sight into a swirling cloud of colour.

WORDS: Libby BortonPHOTOS: Rich Stapleton