Travel: Marrakech, Morocco
The promise of searing sunshine is enough to lure us Brits on a trip to the exotic climes of Morocco.
Sitting round the pool at Marrakech's sublime Les Cinq Djellabas, a pair of young ladies admit they have travelled just for that.
After a week reclining in the heat, spoilt at the boutique hotel, they say leaving has never crossed their minds.
As they take the odd dip in the almost needless extravagance of a heated pool, while being waited on by attentive and amiable staff, it's easy to appreciate their lack of drive.
The hotel's 10 detached eco-lodges, featuring four-poster beds and freestanding baths, are charming and elegant, set in beautiful green gardens.
But the pool-worshipping women are missing out. Outside the walls, the real North Africa awaits.
There's the hustle of the markets with scooters shooting past, mules dotted between cars in the busy streets and the worldly, traditional feel of the old town. There's so much to absorb.
Juxtapose this hectic cityscape with a trip out of town to the foot of the Atlas Mountains and a rich and diverse location awaits.
Our taxi drops us off at the village of Imlil, where a short and picturesque walk to the hilltop Kasbah Du Toubkal reveals a world of unspoiled and undisturbed bliss.
The Kasbah, owned and restored by British former backpackers, offers either the prospect of a day trip or an overnight stay.
However, any longer than a couple of days and city slickers might start missing the bright lights, not to mention the odd drop of alcohol, which is not served - a decision made by the owners out of respect for the surrounding Muslim villages.
The venue is all fantastic views of the hills and valleys surrounding it, perfectly captured from atop the retreat. Staff serve us delicious and filling meals, including tasty lamb tagines.
Back in the city of Marrakech and there are a number of activities and places to visit that are a must for keen travellers. Firstly, cleanse at the highly rated, luxury Heritage Spa. After a gentle massage, head upstairs for a hamam where mud is applied with vigour before being washed off in the steaming wet room by overzealous matron-types.
The relaxing effect is spectacular and should be followed with a trip to the elegant restaurant Le Foundouk overseen by executive ched Mohamed Amine Lamrani. A doorman, complete with fez, picks us up from our taxi and guides us to the door - stopping for the obligatory and irresistible photo session - before leading us upstairs, past beautifully decorated floors, to the rooftop garden.
Fantastic food, including more meaty tagines and magnificent desserts arrive amid a magical scene high in the city.
Some parts of Morocco are very traditional and Marrakech is no different.
Ladies are advised to cover up in well-populated areas such as markets where tourists may also be pestered for cash by insistent locals.
But on the whole it's a welcoming city, with traders keen to ply you with delicious Moroccan mint tea after some forceful haggling, helpful staff assisting at every turn, a remarkable culture to explore and lovely hot weather, all just three and a half hours from London.