Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MARRAKECH EXCESS; as the New Sex and the City Film Swaps Manhattan for Morocco, Adrian Mourby Checks out the Hotels Where the Stars Stayed

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MARRAKECH EXCESS; as the New Sex and the City Film Swaps Manhattan for Morocco, Adrian Mourby Checks out the Hotels Where the Stars Stayed

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Mourby

MARRAKECH has long been a huge draw for travellers, with its fashionable riads surrounding the souks. Now international brands such as Mandarin Oriental are starting to open beyond the medina, including the revamped La Mamounia -- perfect timing for the cast of Sex and the City 2, out this Friday, to camp out here while on location.

La Mamounia, Marrakech's most famous hotel, was built in the 1920s in what had once been the royal gardens of Prince Moulay Mamoun.

Winston Churchill called it "the most lovely spot in the whole world" and set up his easel here. The hotel still displays one of his landscapes, but at the moment Sarah Jessica Parker is the guest everyone wants to know about. Away from the three other stars of the film, Parker stayed here while filming.

La Mamounia is used to celebrities. The hotel itself recently threw a reopening party that featured A-list guests including Jennifer Aniston, Juliet Binoche and Gwyneth Paltrow. The party celebrated years of refurbishment during which visitors to Marrakech had to do without "the grand dame".

The French designer Jacques Garcia had a budget at his disposal that was exceptional even for today's luxury hotels. Out went virtually all traces of the old Art Deco original, and in came Moroccan design elements omitted in the days when Marrakech wanted a hotel that would appeal to the international elite. The result is superb. So well executed is the work that many guests assume their bedrooms have been restored. In fact, they've been created from scratch.

The Sex and the City ladies were in Marrakech to shoot a story that, ironically, is set in Abu Dhabi.

Failing to get permission to shoot anything more risque than the shopping element of their script, they came to Morocco to recreate the Emirates.

While the actresses actually stayed in separate hotels, in the film Carrie and her friends are at the same fivestar resort. To create this, HBO's design team moved to the Mandarin Oriental Jnan Rahma Hotel, which is due to open later this summer. It is a remarkable new-build situated beyond La Palmeraie, an oasis of 150,000 palm trees. …

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