Where to stay in Marrakech

Many of Marrakech’s hotels are located within the bustle of the medina. If you’d prefer to relax away from the madding crowd, try this boutique hotel, purpose-built in a large olive grove about a 20-minute drive from the centre of Marrakech.

Peacock Pavilions

The owners spent four years creating Peacock Pavilions. "The Moroccan touches in the enormous, open-plan salon have been artfully mixed with eclectic finds from around the globe," says Sarah Gilbert in The Independent. Next to the main building there is the three-bedroom Medina Pavilion, and the two-bedroomed Atlas Pavilion. "Both have en suite bathrooms and spacious living areas, decorated with more globally acquired treasures. A beaded chair from Aruba sits next to a Tibetan chest, Coptic crosses from Ethiopia stand beside betel-leaf boxes from Bangladesh."

You'll have to go out for dinner, but the breakfast is fresh and tasty. "Fruit salad and yogurt, olive bread, home-made jams and baked eggs with cheese and tomato... washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice and mint tea."

From £164 for one bedroom, or £295 for a two-bed pavilion (Peacockpavilions.com; 00 212 664 41 46 53).

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The Delano Hotel


"The hotel is built around a central rotunda with a retractable roof. From the doormen wearing red capes... to the deep red, purple and gold furnishings... with lashings of marble and carved wood, it's not a shrinking violet," says Katherine Bergen in The Daily Telegraph. The spa has "a beautiful mosaic pool and his-and-hers hammam rooms. The hammam treatment was the best I've had: an exfoliation with a traditional kessa massage glove, a detoxifying honey body balm and finally a sluice down with orange flower water." Even the smallest bedrooms are of a good size, with "a charming draped silk and velvet seating area".

The restaurant, Pomiroeu, serves Italian cuisine conceived by Michelin-starred chef Giancarlo Morelli "the saffron risotto is his speciality". There's also a rooftop Japanese restaurant offering traditional sushi and sashimi, and "inventive tempura dishes".

Doubles from £179 (Morganshotelgroup.com/delano; 00 212 05 2442 4242).

The best polar cruises


You could enjoy Christmas in "snowy style" in the southern hemisphere with Crystal Cruises (Crystalcruises.co.uk; 020-7399 7601). "Towering icebergs, icy cliffs and majestic glaciers dominate three days spent cruising around the Antarctic Peninsula." Meanwhile, "tripsashore provide close-up views of huge colonies of penguins and seals", says Macefield. An 18-night voyage from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, Chile, leaves 21 December and costs from £9,485pp (including flights, tips and drinks).

Or "embark on one of the world's last true adventures along the legendary Northwest Passage" with Arctic Bound (Arcticbound.com; 0800-6785237). The route runs between Greenland and Alaska and is only passable for a few weeks during the Arctic summer "when ships slowly pick their way through the pack ice". Wildlife on view "includes brown bears, polar bears, whales, Arctic wolves and numerous species of bird". A 21-night voyage leaves Kangerlussuaq in Greenland on 26 August 2014 (from £9,430pp, including flights from Paris to Kangerlussuaq and a return flight from Nome in Alaska to Anchorage. Return flights to Britain cost from £1,400pp).