An exceptional guest palace adjoining the Royal Palace in Marrakech, Villa Makassar is a double riad entirely designed and furnished in the art deco style of the 1920s and 1930s.
Luxurious and precious without being snobbish, enchanting and warm thanks to a particularly attentive personal welcome, Villa Makassar is a place to discover one of the major artistic movements of the last century.
Villa Makassar, named after the precious wood macassar, which was widely used in the 1920s, is the culmination of a passion for decorative art. Patiently restored over five years, the villa reflects the contributions of the Austrian schools (Wiener Werkstätte), German (Bauhaus), French, Dutch (De Stijl), Russian (Wuthemas), Hungarian, Czechoslovakian, Romanian and even American. As much as a guest palace, it is a museum to be experienced, adorned with unique pieces sourced from the four corners of the world or reproduced to perfection.
As soon as you enter, the tone is set: the place is spacious, majestic, ordered in the symmetry so dear to decorative art.
Period vases, macassar ebony consoles, sandblasted glass suspension, Francis Jourdain armchairs, plaster friezes sculpted with art deco motifs: here we see a style from the last century gracefully blended with the charms of Moorish art.
Playing with light, you then enter a brighter reception area, furnished in macassar ebony and shagreen. From here, you enter a first patio punctuated by sixteen columns and paved with Sinai stone imported from Cairo. In the centre, a floor fountain in marble mosaics reproduces a motif from the Vienna School.
Illuminated by Coco Chanel-style parchment lights and hollowed out by a bhou (alcove) furnished with a Ruhlmann bench, this patio leads to two lounges and a dining room.
The first lounge, dedicated to the pleasures of reading and listening to music thanks to a BO sound system, is inspired by the Bauhaus style and pays homage to the onyx work of Mies Van Der Rohe. The furniture in shagreen and rosewood features replicas of sculptures by Gustave Miklos and Joseph Csaky of the Hungarian school. On the floor, inlaid with black marble, is a rug based on a design by Betty Joël, an English designer of the 1920s.
The dining room, still paved with Sinai stone, features an onyx wall panel, restored Mamounia chairs, an art-deco china cabinet from Vietnam and copies of Chiparus statuettes. Surrounded by bay windows, it opens onto the two patios and the generous, family-style kitchen.
Villa Makassar has ten bedrooms. All have been designed in collaboration with maâllems , local master craftspeople. Each piece is based around one or more masterpieces of decorative art. No two are alike.
On the first floor, the Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann room is particularly well cared for, the result of the work of a professional and a purist. An aesthete's delight, down to the smallest detail.
Enclosed by antique handles sourced in Berlin and lit by period wall lights, the bathrooms house a host of rare and precious objects in their niches, in keeping with the decorative theme of the rooms.
A privileged location right in the heart of the medina, just a 10-minute walk from Marrakech's Jamaâ El Fna square.
Riad 5-star hotel, luxury restaurant, spa and outdoor swimming pool.
Rates for luxury rooms and suites on : www.villamakassar.com
Text and photos: Clara Guénet