Dar Darma, a whimsical riad in Marrakech
Dar Darma Marrakech Hotel is situated in the heart of Marrakech Medina, close to the famous Jemaa El-Fna square and within walking distance from the Marrakech Museum and the Medersa Ben Youssef Koranic School, which makes a night out in the town the paramount cultural experience handed to you on a platter. In renovating the mansion, maintaining its monumental features like hand-painted wood vaults, plaster casts, and ancient gates was stressed. Even the paint on the walls was re-done according to what it once looked like.
Staying true to Moroccan architectural customs, Dar Darma also features outdoor ‘courtyards’ with a central bath and a breathtaking ensemble of plants in the two central parts of the building, making it the centerpiece you see walking down the halls. The building includes two patios, large halls, terraces with shady lounges, a swimming pool, and a landscape stretching up to Koutoubia, the Dar El Bacha Palace and the Atlas mountain chain. Covering more than a 1200 square meter surface, this 18th century dramatic palace still manages to give residents an infinite sense of privacy. Add that to its incredibly elegant atmosphere and you automatically feel like you own a palace in your own imaginary kingdom. Also, because Dar Darma does not follow traditional hotel services, the informal assistance of each guest in a special and individual way makes it much easier to get you in that zone.
As a palace, it can be said that each room was painted with a different color. However, being a hotel, these ‘colored units’ are similar to suites. Because each combination of rooms was distinguished with a certain color, Dar Darma Hotel has called each colored unit an apartment, and others are called suites according to their functionality. The building consists of the Red apartment, the Blue apartment, as well as the Brown, Black and Orange suites. Each apartment is decorated according to its color theme, while still maintaining the homogeneity of the hotel.
The featured style of this hotel is mainly Islamic with a twist of Moroccan. History shows that Islamic architecture varied with, or depending on, the culture it flourished in. So elements from the Moroccan culture have been juxtaposed alongside traditional Islamic architecture. Arches, floral designs, mashrabiya-inspired bedroom doors, central courtyards, and incredible geometric symmetry blended in with the traditional Moroccan bath, or “hammam”, and walls plastered with the bright waterproof lime plaster called “tadelakt”.
The bedrooms in Dar Darma have a unique feel to them. As colorful and aesthetic as they are, there is an enjoyable messiness to some of the rooms that resembles moving in to your family’s ancient house and sorting through all your grandmother’s old frames, accessories, and antiques; as portrayed in the Blue apartment’s bedroom. However, other rooms seem to capture fairy tales, such as the bedroom from the Red Apartment with its red and golden striped wall and its spiral bed columns.
According to Laura, Dar Darma’s marketing manager, the hotel has six luxury units: two big apartments and four double suites. The Red apartment and the Blue apartment both have two separated double bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and a large living room with a fireplace. Some ancient doorways connect the different rooms of the apartments. The Orange suite is on two levels. It has a living room at the first floor, and then up a wooden staircase is the double bedroom, the terrace and the bathroom. The Mirror suite has a wall made of mirrors close to the headboard, a large living room with chaises longue and a bathroom.
The baths in this hotel are one of its main architectural features. Dar Darma has a way of making each hammam resemble a spa to pamper its guests as much as possible. One of the hotel’s special touches is placing flower petals to float in a filled bathtub or in the water islands in the central courtyards.
Dar Darma is also known to be one of the few hotels in Marrakech that have swimming pools. The swimming pool on the roof looks like a lake rather than a typical swimming pool. However, being located solely in the corner of the roof overlooking the city adds to the sense of privacy and uniqueness of the hotel.
Moreover, at the top of the building, there are terraces where guests can enjoy panoramic views across the city as well as the Atlas Mountains. Aside from their architectural and aesthetic significance, the fireplace lounge, the Moroccan Lounge, and the hall of Arches are all areas designed to be relaxation points where guests can listen to music and read. The terrace is just another addition to that list of places to lay back and relax.
Dar Darma’s insistence on authenticating the details is eminent in every aspect of the hotel. The choice of furniture and accessories sets the mood for each area giving you a different feeling every time you step into a room. The intricate details, hand crafted items, exaggerated comfort and service as well as the ancient architectural reminiscence of Mar da Palhar Darma’s style can guarantee a fulfilled cultural experience.