Freelance travel writer, Anna Melville-James, stayed at Les Deux Tours in Marrakech with Lawrence of Morocco in January 2013, writing for the Sunday Times Travel Magazine
Marrakech is a city of secret gardens, everyone told me before I went. A city of riad walls sheltering courtyards of fountains and songbirds from the colourful Medina mayhem outside the door. But I didn't really fancy battening down the hatches - I wanted a bit more room to breathe. On Max's recommendation I head out to the Palmeraie, at the edge of town, an oasis of calm where the only noises are palms rustling and the haunting calls of the muezzin over the sand.
Here, down a winding lane, the luscious walled garden of Les Deux Tours hides its surprises behind natural fronds and manmade design quirks like a coquettish fan dancer. A door to a room here amid the jasmine, a cosy seat behind a beaded curtain there.
Sitting, straw hat perched over my nose, breathing sunshine in our private pool villa courtyard, I feel palpable peace like a gong sounding deep inside my chest. Swimming in tea-temperature water or even reading seems a bit industrious. So I put my book down and just...am for a bit.
And how often are we just...ourselves these days? Running from one activity or thought to another. In this most frenetic of cities I have found a still point. A private world (my villa) within a private world (the hotel) that has become my private world for a week.
Of course I venture out - occasionally - to walk down paths patterned with foliage shadows or eat breakfast on the terrace, as birds cluster round me like a Disney movie (the crumbs...). I see people, occasionally, disappearing up a path to the hammam, or in the distance, by the pool. But we are all in our own worlds really.
And when the sun sets, and tea lights appear along every path and terrace, the hotel takes on an even more enchanting air. The sky above is slate covered with spilt flour. The lanterns cast speckles of light in front of our feet like petals. The restaurant, where open fires crackle and a musician plays the hypnotic Moroccan lyre, calls us in.
And all is right with the world. Wherever the rest of the world is.