Hotel Review | Riad Sapphire, Marrakech

Overview:


Having previously visited Marrakech and stayed at Dar One and Dar White, I brought a friend back and booked into Sapphire thanks to a recommendation. Honestly, it blew the others out of the water.

A Zen-like sanctuary in the heart of the medina, Riad Sapphire is owned by an experienced duo who know what it takes to run a top-notch guesthouse. The interiors are sleek monochrome, the suites are extravagant, and breakfast is a showstopper.

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The Location:


Riad Sapphire is located in the northwestern corner of the medina in Sidi ben Slimane. It is one of the few authentic local neighbourhoods left in the medina, but it is a 10-15 minute walk to the Djemaa, the souqs and a 20-25 minutes walk to the palace museums. Taxis are available near the Sidi ben Slimane mosque.

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The Rooms:


Eight large suites are spread around two internal patios and arranged across two floors. Named after precious stones they continue the neutral colour palette with splashes of jewel-bright colours in the cushions, coverlets, day beds and rugs. The comfortable Queen-sized beds have been specially commissioned and bathrooms are supplied with organic Natus toiletries.

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The Food:


Breakfast is a blow-out feast including traditional staples such as Moroccan pancakes, homemade jams, pastries and fresh fruit along with omelettes and eggs. Dinner is also available on request with the focus on healthy, organic home cooking. The chef worked in an Italian restaurant for 17 years so both Moroccan and Italian menus are available.

 

The Facilities:


Beryl and Barbara, with more than 15 years experience in running riads, have created a relaxed, welcoming and professional guesthouse. They are ably assisted by five Moroccan members of staff and an in-house English manager, who can help book activities and excursions as well as organising cookery courses. The in-house hammam is a bonus and can cater to two people at a time, which is perfect for honeymooning couples.Sapphire-3.jpg

The Service:


Second-to-none!

The Habit Hunter x

Hotel Review | Riad Dar White, Marrakech

Overview:


Following a couple of nights in Marrakech at Dar One, we headed over to sister property, Dar White for our final few nights. Honestly – it was beautiful! But compared to Dar One, we were a little disappointed. The decor is lovely, but slightly less ‘moroccan’, the location is ‘okay’ and the service was quite honestly.. just not memorable. Neither great nor bad, just ‘fine’.

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The Location:


Located in Kasbah district, Riad Dar White is pretty central, but we’d been spoilt at Dar One. The center of Marrakesh is 20 minutes walk from the property. A mosque and a palace lie a short distance away.

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The Rooms:


With just 4 rooms the Riad really does give you that sense of privateness should you desire it. The rooms are beautiful, clean and in Marrakech terms, pretty modern. They’re all of similar size so I doubt you’d be disappointed, but if you’re looking for the largest, I’d opt for ‘Mykonos’ or ‘Ibiza’.

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The Food:


As with Dar One, the breakfast is traditional moroccan and included in the room price. I didn’t eat in the hotel for dinner, so I cannot comment, but I’ve heard good things.

 

The Habit Hunter x

Hotel Review | Trump Soho, New York (Renamed The Dominick)

Overview:


Having had a great stay at The Refinery Hotel, I moved onto the Trump Soho (now called the Dominick) for my final few days in New York before heading home, (P.s. this was prior to Trump drama!), and it was fantastic. Quite frankly, a beautiful hotel – with impeccable service (ohhh and lots of FENDI furniture), no complaints from me.

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Between two roaring avenues on the western edge of Soho, this towering hotel is the beauty queen on the block. Behind enormous glass doors, the lobby has an organic, textured look, with a full wall of angled wood pillars, polished stone floors, boulder-size light fixtures in metal cradles, and handsome leather armchairs with brass accents. Every detail, from the fresh orchid displays to the selection of art books to the quiet upstairs lounge, is in its well-considered and immaculately quaffed place.

The Location:


If you’re looking for Soho sass, look no further. Cornered on Spring Street, there really is no better place to be nestled. However, if it’s your first time in NYC and you’re wanting to hit the midtown, you might want to take a look at The Refinery instead.

The Rooms:


Guest rooms have that coveted New York amenity: space. Fendi Casa is behind the subtly masculine design that mixes charcoals, whites, and Merlot reds from carpet to studded-leather headboard. By far the best feature, however, is the floor-to-ceiling windows that frame corners of the cityscape rarely seen from this low-rise neighborhood. Bathrooms feel spa-like in striped marble and glass, with standalone showers, double vanities (in some) and lovely Bulgari amenities. All have deep tubs, and a special few are positioned below enormous picture windows so you can admire the city (and inevitably croon Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”) as you soak.

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The Food:


On the ground floor, just off the lobby, Spring & Varick restaurant serves modern twists on American cuisine in an upscale wooden dining room that works for both late night business diners and the buffet breakfast crowd; drinks are best had at the 60s-style cocktail bar, Mr. Jones.

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The Drinks:


Cocktail bar Mr. Jones is located on the lobby level and celebrates classic 1960’s Americana. Adoring the walls are one-of-a-kind light boxes with the likes of Sophia Loren, Neil Armstrong, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra. Seasonal Bar d’Eau, located on the 7th floor, is an indoor/outdoor poolside rooftop bar with cocktails and light bites.

The Facilities:


The rooftop pool and the spa steal the show. At the spa, guest have access to what the hotel touts as the “first luxury hammam in New York City.” The spa also offers hair and makeup services at the salon or in-room. Those looking for private relaxation can reserve an private spa suite overnight with adjacent treatment rooms or en-suite saunas.

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The Service:


Whilst the name may have been removed, this is really where the hotel still ‘trumps’ everyone. The service here is unreal. The staff will do anything for you to make your trip as relaxing and luxe as possible, from posting your letters to collecting your laundry, to booking your favourite table at a local restaurant.

The Habit Hunter x

Hotel Review | Riad Dar One, Marrakech

Overview:


My first visit to Marrakech saw me touch down at Dar One – and to no disappointment! This place is amidst the hustle and bustle, but supremely gives you the feeling of complete serenity once inside.

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Take a Moroccan riad, renovate it in a contemporary minimalist style with Starck-ian bathroom fixtures, cubic leather furniture and boldly striped textiles à la Missoni or Paul Smith, and you’ve got riad Dar One. At the end of a gated alleyway in the Jewish quarter of the medina, this has to be one of Marrakech’s best-kept secrets: sleek, quiet, cosmopolitan and eminently affordable.

The Location:


Dar One is located at the end of a gated alley in the Mellah, the historic Jewish quarter of the medina. It’s moments from the Bahia and Badi palaces and a 10-15 minute walk to the Djemaa el-Fna. Pick up taxis at the Place des Ferblantiers. For first timers in Marrakech looking to be amongst the craziness of this beautiful city, Dar One is a no-brainer.

The Rooms:


Dar One’s six small, but perfectly furnished, rooms offer the same sense of enticing exoticism. Colours are rich and soothing – old rose, watercolour blue and ruby red – while sweeping curtains, leather headboards and suede upholstered chairs suggest the soft, padded snugness of a cocoon. Bathrooms are beautifully finished with Starck-style fittings and glossy marble sinks. Three of them (Oasis, Mirage and Duna) have bathtubs, while the other three have walk-in showers. Duna is the largest room, and best for families, while Sirocco, up on the rooftop terrace, is a perfect, private love nest.

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The Food:


Breakfast is taken on the roof terrace in the morning sunshine or around a communal table in the salon. If you want to dine at the riad you’ll need to book ahead for the three-course menu, which features spicy Moroccan salads, aromatic tagines and desserts of apples baked in honey, cinnamon and orange with a shaving of chocolate. The lantern-lit roof terrace make after-dinner star gazing particularly rewarding.

The Facilities:


Service is excellent, but facilities at this bijou bolthole are limited: there’s no pool, but a rooftop shower allows guests to cool down, and while there’s no hammam, in-room massages can be organised. Owner Jean, who visits each morning, also manages the La Vie en Rose resort outside Marrakech where guests can spend the day horse riding, indulging in a spa treatment and swimming. Cookery classes with chef Amina can also be arranged by request.

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The Service:


Incredible! You won’t find friendlier faces during your stay in Marrakech than the staff at Dar One.

The Habit Hunter x

Hotel Review | The Refinery, New York

Overview:


This hotel was the best surprise ever! Having been working at a summer camp for the past 3 months, sleeping on a rickety single bed this visit couldn’t have come at a better time. I booked the Refinery two days prior to book (something that would be impossible now, but with it being new when I first visited in 2014 – I got lucky).

Much of the charm of the original Gothic skyscraper has been preserved, from the high ceilings to the wood-floor rooms, although the décor is never overdone. And while hipster touches abound (the staff sport suspenders and denim uniforms and, a few, waxed facial hair) there’s nothing over the top. Locally curated artwork is on display in communal areas, along with vintage furnishings.

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The Location:


The Refinery Hotel is located just off the corner of 38th and 6th Avenue, giving guests access to the heart of Manhattan, whether they want to travel as tourists and stop by Times Square and Broadway or check out Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. It’s also conveniently located for travelers, within easy walking distance of both Penn Station and Grand Central and just blocks from almost any subway you would need to catch.

Ultimately – 10/10 location whatever your reasonings for being in the Big Apple.

The Rooms:


The 197 rooms over 12 floors are chicly decorated in a muted palette, with cool touches such as writing desks, which are meant to evoke vintage sewing machines. Some rooms have views of the Empire State Building. The dark, brushed-oak hardwood floors set the stage for funky furniture and custom beds. Subway-tiled white bathrooms feature walk-in rain showers and are stocked with wonderful-smelling Beekman 1802 toiletries from Upstate New York.

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They’re a bit like a classic suit — the refinement is in the simplicity and the detailing.

The Food:


Inherently New York, but with global appeal, Parker & Quinn is the signature Refinery Hotel restaurant. Serving breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner and cocktails in a nostalgic atmosphere, Parker & Quinn features classic design touches that span a century of New York City history, from the building’s early life as a working factory to a chic, present-day meeting place for fashionable locals and guests. Executive Chef Jeff Haskell takes a straightforward and rustic approach in his kitchen, relying on high-quality and locally-sourced ingredients to produce balanced, approachable American dishes. While the menu changes with the season, Chef Haskell serves up variations on classics like soft-shell crab and ribeye year-round.

The Drinks:


The Refinery Rooftop is definitely the crown jewel of the Refinery Hotel, a turn-of-the-century hat factory turned luxury hotel located in the historic Garment District of New York. With a year-round rooftop lounge and breathtaking Empire State views, the Refinery Rooftop offers world travelers–and city dwellers alike–a quintessential New York City experience. The epitome of the perfect cocktail hour!

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Nestled among the giants of the New York City skyline, the Refinery Rooftop hosts a rotating mix of big name and up-and-coming talent from the city and around the world. Take it from me: There’s always something to see in the shadow of the Empire State Building.

Oh – and you get doorman preference if you’re staying there, always a bonus.

Top Tip – Order the Baby Doll

The Facilities:


A fitness room is an added bonus to this beautiful boutique, but you’re in NYC – pound the pavements and see the city, that’s a workout in itself.

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The Service:


Incredible staff that go above and beyond at every moment. There wasn’t a single member that let the team down – I just hope this continues as they grow even more in popularity!

The Habit Hunter x