واحة تحت النجوم
AN OASIS UNDER THE STARS
Marrakech will change you, in one way or the other. Hate it or love it; but the city will trigger a myriad of impressions and a trillion feelings in you. You might find it chaotic, vastly different, consuming or hectic, but it will also most likely blow your mind. Either way, it’s a good idea to do some research before you arrive, whether it’s where to stay, where to eat or what to see. We had read a lot about the magical ‘red city’ and wanted our first visit to be truly memorable by finding an out-of-the-ordinary place to stay.
A preferred option for most visitors is staying in a ‘riad’ which is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, "ryad". We heard so much good stuff about riads so we decided that we wanted to try staying at one. Marrakech is home to riads in many shapes and sizes and very different price points. We did some Twitter research, as we often do, and found our little Moroccan paradise - Jnane Tamsna.
What convinced us to choose Jnane Tamsna?
Jnane Tamsna was opened by Meryanne (French/Senegalese) and Gary (American) in 2000. The couple had visited Marrakech as tourists and had fallen head over heels to the beauty of Marrakech. They eventually decided to buy a plot of land in the Palmeraie - a palm dessert 15-20 minutes drive from the Medina in Marrakech. Meryanne, an interior designer and former lawyer, and Gary, a botanist and anthropologist, had the ideal qualifications to open a magical retreat. They built Jnane Tamsna in a style true to the old Moroccan riads and with a beautiful palm garden surrounding the place.
Today stands Jnane Tamsna, a retreat fit for movie stars and royalty. Jnane Tamsna is decorated like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Every single carpet, picture, mirror, chandelier and bowl has been individually chosen by Meryanne and put together to create an atmosphere unlike anywhere else you’ve probably visited. Add to that the beautiful garden surrounding the pools and buildings where Gary has planted palm trees, fig trees, pomegranate trees and herbs to create a botanical masterpiece. Most of the fruit and vegetables that you’ll be eating at Jnane Tamsna comes straight from the garden. Jnane Tamsna is almost 100% self-sufficient when it comes to produce.
We obviously booked our stay, and flew 3,5 hours from Dublin to Marrakech - ready for a big adventure. The kind staff at Jnane Tamsna had pre-booked a private taxi to come pick us up at the airport and drive us to the Palmeraie. We drove through the busy city at night, looking at all of the crazy traffic and life of the city. We knew this was going to be a different journey to anywhere else we had ever been. The cab drive to Jnane took about 25 minutes from the airport to the front gate of the Jnane Tamsna. We stepped out of our taxi and stood in awe - looking at the candlelit passageway leading to the main arches of the Jnane Tamsna.
We were greeted by the charming staff and given a tour of Jnane Tamsna. We were then served some fresh mint tea that we could enjoy in one of Meryanne’s beautifully decorated common rooms. You would have a hard time believing that this place hadn’t existed prior to 2000 as everything in Jnane Tamsna is antiques. We were then taken to our room to unpack our bags and change. The photos should give you a good idea of what you can expect from one of the rooms in the main courtyard, give you an overview of the main swimming pool and give you an idea of what Gary’s amazing garden looks like.
The first evening at Jnane Tamsna we were asked if we would like to dine in the garden - we couldn’t think of a better way to start our first night in Marrakech. We were taken to the garden that was lit up with about 200 small candles - very romantic. The restaurant here has a fixed menu, which doesn’t give you a lot of choices, but everything is authentic Moroccan food. We ordered a bottle of lovely Moroccan wine and were served our starter - spicy pumpkin soup with fresh pomegranate seeds. The waiter pointed out that everything here was from the garden - the pumpkin, the pomegranate seeds and the olive oil was pressed from the olive trees that we were sitting under. First course - success. Following the starter we were served a classic Moroccan dish - couscous with lamb and vegetables. The perfectly cooked lamb was placed on a bed on couscous with carrots, courgette and eggplant and topped with sweet sautéed onions. Delicious. For dessert we were served a lovely little Moroccan pastry with mint tea. There’s just something special about sitting outdoors surrounded by palm trees, fig trees, olive trees and 200 candles. If you’re going to stay at the Jnane Tamsna make sure to have dinner at least one of the evenings as it’s a really soothing experience and great quality food. After dining out in Medina a couple of evenings you’ll need the tranquility that Jnane Tamsna can give you - trust us!
The following day we woke up on in our lovely bed, refreshed after a good night's sleep and ready to enjoy our first day in Marrakech. But not until we'd had our breakfast. So, we headed to the garden to find a table with lovely food and and a kind woman who fried eggs to our liking. We couldn't have asked for a better start of the day.
We couldn’t have been happier with the choice of staying at Jnane Tamsna and it made our trip to Marrakech something truly special. The staff here will take really good care of you and their politeness and warmth was really outstanding. At Jnane Tamsna the vision has been to create ‘a home away from home’ and that’s exactly what you can expect to find here. You’ll find couples on a romantic getaway as well as families coming here to unwind. Everything feels natural here, which truly makes this the perfect place to escape stress and to-do lists. This is the kind of place you’ll go to and never ever forget. We’re sure that you’ll enjoy this just as much as we did.