Jasper Conran renovates Yves Saint Laurent's former Moroccan villa

Luxurious 1940s' home transformed into 12-suite hotel with ocean views

Powered by automated translation

Morocco was an immense source of inspiration for Yves Saint Laurent’s creations. Born in neighbouring Algeria to French parents, the fashion designer grew up in the seaside city of Oran before moving to Paris at the age of 18.

In 1966, aged 30, Saint Laurent rekindled his love of North Africa during a visit to Marrakesh. He began to travel to Morocco twice a year – in December and June – to design his collections, often inspired by the vibrant colours of the city.

In 1980, Saint Laurent purchased his first Moroccan property in Marrakesh, the Villa Oasis, which has now been transformed into a museum celebrating his life and career. Seventeen years later, the designer purchased a hilltop villa in Tangier overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar. The property became a holiday home, a sanctuary of peace and an inspiration for many of his collections.

Today, this design sanctuary, named Villa Mabrouka, is open to the public after being purchased by Jasper Conran. The British fashion designer, whose love for interiors runs deep, has restored the 1940s house, transforming it into a 12-suite hotel with glorious ocean views. Surrounded by enchanting gardens, the house has retained many of the design details introduced by Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, who co-founded fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, but Conran has elevated it to become a luxury destination.

“One step through Villa Mabrouka’s heavy carved wooden doors and into the gardens, you are immediately transported to the feeling of being in paradise,” Conran says. “I wanted to add my own lifetime of thoughts and expressions in a complementary way.”

Saint Laurent and Berge worked with French interior designer Jacques Grange for the original design, combining traditional Moroccan architecture with lush gardens and greenery. Curved archways and high ceilings stand out against the geometric exterior, creating a unique appearance.

Conran’s redesign has embraced the clean-lined simplicity of the house’s 1940s modernist architecture, combining it with the quiet eccentricity of an English country house and a touch of the romance and magic of the Riviera’s early 20th-century golden era of travel. His own contemporary taste for refined understatement and exquisite craftsmanship can also be seen throughout.

The designer invested extensively in the modernisation of Villa Mabrouka’s infrastructure. Upgraded roofing, electrics, plumbing and underground services have elevated the property to the standard expected of luxury boutique hotels today. He has also added new guest rooms, garden cottages and restaurants.

The three dining destinations feature menus that emphasise the use of fresh ingredients infused with unique blends of Moroccan spices. A new rooftop terrace, coffee bar, second swimming pool and a hammam complete the property, as well as dining pavilions available for private hire.

Guests will appreciate the well-thought-out interiors, including soft furnishings and linens in a chic colour palette of caramel, emerald and rose, decorated with block-printed florals and Fez embroideries. Locally handmade glazed clay tiles are used throughout, complemented by ancient Roman mosaics and 16th-century Andalusian tiles. Italian Murano glass chandeliers decorate archways, and beamed ceilings and monochromatic marble floors give a nod to Saint Laurent’s original design aesthetic.

Conran has added his own touch with the addition of flowing voile curtains, intricate fretwork, brass hardware and veined marble, as well as rattan wall panels, headboards and furniture. Mother-of-pearl inlaid mirrors and side tables, and Mauritanian leather and reed rugs complete the look. The light, airy rooms feel relaxed and vibrant thanks to their whitewashed walls and sweeping terraces.

Outside is a wonder of its own as guests can discover the villa’s diverse greenery. Conran has undertaken a vast restoration and replanting programme, adding more than 6,500 new plants, shrubs and trees to the property’s gardens. Sweeping lawns, banana palms, ferns, bamboo, citrus trees, hollyhocks, roses and bougainvillea offer a natural sanctuary of calm around the hotel grounds.

Villa Mabrouka opened for business in July and is the perfect destination for a relaxing escape, as Conran intended. “I want Villa Mabrouka to feel deeply personal, like staying in a home rather than a hotel, reflecting the way I personally like to live, the things that I enjoy and the appreciation of beautifully made things. I want it to be a place where you can spend time taking in the beauty of everything around you.”

Updated: February 13, 2024, 7:33 AM