Deep in the heart of the medina of Marrakesh Villa Flore offers an oasis of peace and tranquility from the chaotic alleyways outside. The entrance is guarded by a doorman and you are ushered inside to a spacious courtyard area where you can dine outdoors under the stars. The floor is covered in black and white marble and the glass topped tables are all set with flickering tea light candles. Waiters glide from table to table decked out in suits and diners voices are hushed in the formal setting. Yet while the atmosphere of complete serenity can be an escape from the medina it also feels far removed from the vibrancy of Marrakesh and rather sterile.
As you linger over the menu and wine list (a rarity in the medina itself) a bowl of olives and some achingly fresh bread is brought to your table. Chef Mustapha Benacher has created a menu which offers a selection of French and Moroccan dishes however I have to admit that there was not much that jumped out at me. Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing and weary of tagines, MTV boyfriend and I both ordered the steak which was gussied up with a rich gravy and a side serving of a lonely scoop of mash and some zucchini. It was well cooked steak but the food pleased through execution rather than originality or passion. I felt that I could have been eating at a glitzy hotel anywhere in the world. Perhaps that is the appeal of Villa Flore but it was lost on me.
The warmth of the sun had long faded and we were both shivering as night fell so we decided to skip dessert which is not a decision I take lightly. Still, having only ordered a main and one drink each our bill was fairly hefty. Villa Flore may offer a change of pace from the rest of Marrakesh however it also lacks the atmosphere and charm of the crazy, chaotic Medina.
Details: 4, Derb Azzouz, quartier Mouassine, Marrakesh Medina, Morocco (Ph +212 (0) 2439 1700)