La Maison Arabe Country Club

Filed Under: reviews, Travel

I didn’t know this ahead of time, but many of the upper-end hotels, resorts, and country clubs in Marrakech offer day passes for those wanting to use the pools and other facilities. This is a great compromise for those who want to stay in the medina (or just don’t want to splash out on a luxury property) and lets you spend a day or afternoon poolside.

And given how hot and crowded the medina can be, an afternoon in a pool garden with a good book can be quite welcomed.

Our desire for a pool day was driven by a very last-minute acknowledgement that a spike in temperature on an already-humid day had made it just too sweltering for any enjoyable daytime sightseeing. So we made a few quick calls, and settled on visiting the country club run by La Maison Arabe.

La Maison Arabe itself is a boutique hotel at the edge of the medina. With 35 rooms, they have substantially more infrastructure than the local riads, and offer a large spa/hammam, a restaurant, and cooking classes. They charge $40/day for non-guests to visit the pool on the outskirts of town, which includes reserved sun loungers, a welcome drink, and a shuttle from the medina location.

The hotel was about a 15-minute walk from our riad, tucked down a quiet alleyway.

The staff at the desk just inside took our payment for the pool and let us know it would be about ten minutes for the 1PM shuttle, so we took the opportunity to walk through the public areas (and book a spa treatment for later, because why not?).

The drive out to the country club was decidedly un-scenic, but the van was comfortable and air conditioned. After about 15 minutes, we arrived at the property.

The country club is set in a series of gardens — some of the cooking classes are apparently held here as well — and while there was a bit of road noise, it was a dramatic departure from the crowded city.

Past the gardens, there’s also a small poolside restaurant, with a fairly limited (but a la carte!) menu.

We were promptly greeted by a pool attendant, who pointed us to the changing facilities, then set up chairs, towels, and an umbrella.

Service was great in general — complimentary iced mint drinks (think virgin mojitos) were brought right away, along with water that was replenished throughout the afternoon. And when I ordered a double espresso later in the afternoon, it was delivered along with an entire plate of cookies.

The pool itself was freezing, but swimmable, and honestly it was so hot and muggy outside that just being by the cool water was pleasant in general. And being surrounded by olive trees and bougainvillea was a refreshing break from the medina.

There were several event spaces flanking the pool as well, including what may have been a residence at some point.

The groundskeepers encouraged us to take a look inside the ground floor of the villa, which was beautiful.

We took the last shuttle back to town at 6PM, which was perfect timing as it was starting to get a bit chilly.

So there you have it — pretty much as expected, and for us at least, a great way to spend an afternoon.

If you’re looking for a luxury option, and are more organized, I’d look to book a package at La Mamounia, which includes reserved pool chairs, a three-course lunch, and either a massage or hammam treatment for between ~$200 and ~$250. Typically the spa treatment alone would be ~$125 (more on hammam prices and options in the next post), and I’m told the facilities are gorgeous, so in terms of comparative value it’s fairly reasonable. But you’ll need to book in advance.

For a last-minute or flexible option (as you’re not required to commit to a lunch or spa package here), La Maison Arabe is a great choice, and I’d happily do this again in similar circumstances.

Have you ever booked a day pass to a pool when staying elsewhere?

Comments
  1. You are correct, the facilities in La Mamounia are indeed gorgeous. I would recommend a visit just to the hotel even without a day pass.

    These calm places inside and around Marrakech is what I love about the city. For me they are the perfect place to relax and spend time.

  2. I stayed at the Maison Arabe in 2018 and visited this place but only for the cooking class. The hotel has a smallish pool onsite, so we ended up using that one for a quick dip instead. Their cooking class was great — a structured lesson in their dedicated kitchen studio classroom. They had screens at your cooking stations streaming the close up whatever the Dada’s (teacher) workstation so everyone could follow along without having to crowd around her. Like the country club, the cooking classes are open to non-guests and there was a British group who were doing it for the second time.
    We walked around a bit as they baked the bread in an outdoor tandoor and served us tea in the patio area. Even without visiting this pool, it was really relaxing to sip tea and eat our lunch amidst the fragrant smells of all the blooming orange blossoms.

  3. Having stayed at La Mamounia on several occasions, I am aware that sightseers are actively discouraged; but this hotel must be included on any Marrakech itinerary and thus the guest pass or a meal at one of the restaurants ought be considered. The pool is set in the perfect oasis of fragrant, lush gardens and surrounded by sumptuous loungers and the most attentive pool attendants. The pool is usually populated with an interesting collection of guests and inevitably acquaintances are made over a cool drink …. which are accompanied by snacks in gorgeous silver dishes and dispensed with a flourish and a dazzling smile. Marrakech contains jarring juxtapositions and is all the more exciting for it …. often confronting and frustrating but well worth the effort to understand the essence of this place.

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