Brits Vanessa Branson and Howell James turned an old riad in Marrakech into a luxury boutique hotel, El Fenn. The once-crumbling palatial grounds have since been restored to a complex of three swimming pools, a library, traditional hammam steam rooms, a sweeping terrace with a view to Koutoubia Mosque and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, and three courtyards filled with bougainvillea and the hum of birds.
Not to be too steeped in the past, each of the 20 individually styled rooms contains pieces from Miss Branson’s contemporary art collection. She herself organizes the Marrakech Biennale, which happens in late February. Says the hotel’s publicist, “Guests may find themselves dining under a stunning chandelier created by Francis Upritchard or sleeping beside a series of ink studies by Antony Gormley.”