When it comes to understated elegance, top service and old- world chic inside the medina, Villa des Orangers is unmatched. Villa des Orangers used to be the riad of a judge of Marrakech until the 1988 when the actual owners, Pascal and Veronique, purchased it and turned it into a boutique hotel, using Studio Ko, the architects that recently designed Yves Saint Laurent Museum. With 27 rooms and suites, this is not your average riad anymore, but the designers intelligently created different spaces, complemented by patios, pools, alcoves and gardens spread on 3000 square meters, so that the riad intimacy feeling lingers on. Inside, a clubby, French-colonial style mixes with Moroccan ornate stucco engravings and zellij, keeping things luxurious but never glitz, from the wood-pannelled dining room to the dark leather sofas. The marble bathrooms are enormous. Breakfast or lunch can be had anywhere and at any time. Non alcoholic drinks are included with the room rate so you won't have to sign or pay every time you have a coffee. Jean- Paul, the manager, arrived here in 2003, after jobs at other Relais & Chateaux in Switzerland, and hasn't lost an inch of motivation. Staying here will ensure you are looked after personally and attended every whim. Besides the Moroccan restaurant, there is an in- house French restaurant complete with a resident chef. The exquisite menu includes dishes such as the pan fried duck foie gras or grilled red tuna with coconut cream. Who'd want to miss that ? Best visited all year round.