The name of La Mamounia can be traced back to the eighteenth century. Its story starts with the King Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah whose custom it was to offer his sons, as a wedding gift, a house and a garden located outside the Kasbah.
This is how Abdessalam, Mamoun, Moussa, and Hassan were to become the place names of the gardens that the king would offer them. These gardens “Arsats” are still known today, but only the arsat al-Mamoun was destined to become famous and inspire the name of La Mamounia.
It is said that the prince used to hold extraordinary garden parties (named “nzaha” in Arabic) in the park for entertainment, which is now a popular amusement in many Moroccan cities. From the beginning, La Mamounia proved itself to be a true monument combining the traditional Moroccan architecture with the Art Deco style.La Mamounia has never been large enough to satisfy all the guests who wanted to be accommodated. Until the end of the thirties, the hotel had only fifty rooms. But it was expanded in 1946 to include 100 rooms, then refurbished successively in 1950, 1953, 1986 and finally in 2006 for a reopening with 210 keys on September 29th 2009.
Before the Second World War, those who came from Europe and the United States even brought their own furniture so that they were able to enjoy the exotic surroundings while feeling “at home” in their rooms. We still tell stories about the stately dinners where men dressed in top hats and tails and women, bedecked with exquisite jewels, wore long evening gowns.Many famous people have visited La Mamounia. Winston Churchill stayed through many winters. He liked to wander along the balcony, following the sun on its daily route in order to render the colour of his paintings as realistic as possible. Several of his paintings of La Mamounia’s gardens hang in the Churchill museum in England.
“It is the most lovely spot in the whole world”, said Winston Churchill to Franklin D.Roosevelt about Marrakech in 1943, who was invited to visit his favorite place. Churchill made his remark while he gazed at one of the beautiful sunsets for which the city is famous. Another anecdote from La Mamounia’s rich involves General Charles de Gaulle who also spent a night in the hotel during the same period. The director of the hotel was obliged to have a special bed made to accommodate the statesman’s full height.La Mamounia has also received many Hollywood celebrities. From actors such as Salma Hayek, Orlando Bloom, Eva Mendes, Miranda Kerr, Jennifer Aniston, Gwynneth Paltrow and Juliette Binoche to French and American filmmakers,
Jean Tissier filmed “Alerte au Sud” with Eric Von Stroheim in 1953. Hitchcock’s film, “The man who knew too much” was also filmed there. In 1955 Charlie Chaplin was warmly welcomed at the hotel. Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Omar Sharif, Joan Collins, Nicole Kidman, Silvester Stalone, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tom Cruise, Sharon Stone, Kate Winslet, Charles Aznavour, Jean Paul Belmondo, Catherine Deneuve, Alain Delon, Ornella Mutti, Claudia Cardinale and Sophie Marceau have all graced the majestic halls.
With the film stars came the fashion world, and designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Balmain who bought nearby homes and frequently continued to use the hotel. In 1968, with the explosion of rock groups, Marrakech welcomed the Rolling stones, while the group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young wrote the hit song “Marrakech Express” inspired by their stay. Other stars from the world of music have included Jacques Brel who said: “La Mamounia remains the civilized dream that one wishes to meet more often…”; Dalida, Barbara Hendrix, Andrea Boccelli, Julio Iglesias, Julien Clerc, Johnny Halliday and Elton John.
Royals and heads of state who have discovered the hotel and returned on a regular basis are Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald & Nancy Reagan, Prince of Asturias and the Infante Elena of Spain, Princess Caroline of Monaco, The Prince Naruhito of Japan, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Jacques Chirac and Helmut Kohl.The reopening of the hotel has attracted even more celebrities. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Said Taghmaoui, Salma Hayek and Juliette Binoche preferring posed for photographers on the red carpet Mamounia. The famous American actor Orlando Bloom even decided to celebrate Thanksgiving with his girlfriend Miranda Kerr in this magical and romantic place.The list is of influential guests is long and the visitors’ book keeps a memoire of all the celebrities’ feelings and comments about La Mamounia. All express the same feeling: “ The desire to return”