This is a lovely place. It’s down a side passage off a bustling thoroughfare in the northern medina, lined with shops and full of shoppers, tradesmen and people on motorized scooters.
Our room was excellent and we found all staff at the riad to be very friendly and helpful. Bouchra the manageress met us when we arrived and gave us information about how to get to the Jemma El Fna square.
The food was really good and very plentiful and we'd happily recommend eating here one night on your stay.
The riad offers to get a taxi to pick you up at the airport for a 10 euro fee. This is a reasonable deal and the driver takes you to the nearest point that cars can reach, from there the riad is about a five minute walk.
We walked through the more modern part of Marrakech, Gueliz where many of the western style hotels and you really could be anywhere in Europe in this quarter.
I stayed at the riad for four days. Superb service by the staff. Was the highlight of my stay in Marrakesh. Ever obliging and courteous. Seldom have I come across such service in my extensive stays in hotels across the world. The riad is of moderate size and located within walking distance to the Jemaa El Fina. Great experience walking through the souks to reach the Jemaa. It takes between five to 10 minutes. The hotel is tucked in a cul-de-sac. The rooms are furnished in a very Moroccan style but with modern amenities. The library is well stocked with books on Morocco. Enjoyed my evenings reading books on Morocco, to better understand local culture. The food was superb. Requested for pastilla and this was duly served the same evening. Arranged for day trips to Imlil and Ait El Bendahou via the hotel. These trips were reasonably priced with knowledgeable guides who spoke good English. The riad was originally built by the pasha of Marrakesh (sort of a ruler who was the the chief of the Marrakesh area) during French colonisation. So there is a lot of history in the riad.
Phone +212 (0) 524 389 067
62 Deb Boutouil, Kennaria 40,000, Marrakech
Medina in Fes is absolutely stunning not only because it's the biggest old town in the Arabic world. In there you can find an incredibly big market where you could get everything, numerous tanneries and an awful lot of impressions. Here's how I saw Medina in Fes: www.fm1721.com/experience/africa/morocco/
Plan at least one whole day for discovering Medina! Also choose your tannery viewing carefully as there are lots of crooks in Medina.
Medina, Fes, Morocco
I collect hotel stays like spinsters collect cat figurines and Kasbah du Toubkal is the best place I've ever stayed.
At 250E per night for the deluxe suite, it's not cheap, but worth every penny.
- Your every need is anticipated (except alcohol, but they notify you in advance, and it's fine to bring your own)
- Scrumptious food
- Insane 360 degree views of the Atlas Mountains
- Walking trails of all lengths and levels of difficulty
- Genuine hospitality
- Multiple opportunities to mingle with fellow travellers
- Small pleasures (bright flowers, kittens, freshly-baked bread)
It's only a one-hour drive from Marrakesh.
It's not five-star luxury, but it's five-star charm.
+ 33 (0)5 49 05 01 35
PLACES TO STAY
We were happy with the Cherifa Suite (approximately $200/night) at Madada Mogador. Nice, contemporary style; convenient location (just inside the medina); pleasant manager who is happy to provide advice and answer questions; and a ginormous deck. And, the liquor store is only a 15-minute walk.
THINGS TO DO
- Have a drink at the Taros rooftop deck. Pretty people, pretty views.
- It's cliche but, see The Ramparts at dusk.
- Get scrubbed at the Hammam Lilla Mira. This was the (unexpected) highlight of our trip to Essaouira.
- Buy argan oil. You'll never find it this cheap in The States.
- Visit Galerie d'Art Damgaard. Stunning pieces by local artists on sale for reasonable prices.
- Treat yourself to aperitifs (and impressive, complementray hors d'ouevres) in the Heure Bleu lounge.
WHERE TO EAT
- Have a drink on the rooftop deck at Taros. Beautiful view; even beautiful-er people.
- Dine at Le Patio. Sophisticated, yet homey. DO order seafood.
- Lunch at Creperie for a safe, no-nonsense crepe in a convenient location.
- Aperitif It at the Heure Bleu's swanky cocktail lounge. The (complementary) "bar snacks" are first-class.
- Dine at Restaurant La Licorne. Charming. Order the Lyonnaise salad (trust me on this).
Full Essaouira trip report (plus Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains) at: www.travelmusings.net/morocco/
Make an effort to see a Berber market outside the big cities of Fes and Marrakech and get away from touts and tourists, while soaking up more of Morocco's great countryside and culture.
30km away from Fes is Sefrou (take a shared 'grand taxi' from Bab Ftouh), where Berbers come from outlying areas to ply their wares at the Thursday souq.
The same distance away from Marrakech, lies the town of Ourika (Dar Caid Ourika) which comes alive on Monday with everything from Berber haircuts to giant haystacks for sale. You can take a bus from behind the tourist police in Marrakech.
My husband and I went to Morocco three years ago and spent a few days in Essaouira and then a couple of days in Marrakech. At first we found the prospect of haggling rather daunting but after a day or two we just decided to ‘get stuck in’.
The initial shock for me was how time-consuming the whole ceremony of haggling is, starting with polite chat about “Where are you from?”, “Where are you staying?”, and many more questions. All I had in my head was “How much is it!”. But after a while I got used to this and understood that it was a new cultural experience and a different ‘shopping’ experience - although certainly it was not as sweet as presented in the last instalment of SATC!
If you visit those two places as we did, I recommend practising your haggling in the less hectic and crowded Essaouira as the stall holders seemed to be more relaxed and happier to chat and talk. In Marrakech the souk was an absolutely crazy experience and the sellers are more ruthless about getting good prices out of tourists. In my view the items on sale in Marrakech were less stylish and interesting than those in Essaouira.
For those who cannot see themselves haggling, there are shops with fixed prices (but you still can haggle in them if you like!). The shop I bought my favorite earrings in was Chez Abdou in Marrakech. Nice and short haggling and they were mine for a decent price. (Or at least that is what I thought.)
To sum up I would recommend Essaouira for more stylish, unusual items (pottery, lamps and candle holders), whereas I personally found the jewellery shops more interesting in Marrakech.
Jewellery Shop: Chez Abdou Objt d'art, Saba Grawa Lakssour No 70, Marrakech
Google map: bit.ly/9VUsdJ
In Jemaa el Fna -'the 'big square'- in Marrakech, to the sound of prayer calls from the Koutoubia mosque, local men in pointed djellabas congregate to tell stories among the snake charmers and performing monkeys. The air is filled with intoxicating smells from the exotic food stalls and the spice souks.
The locals are more than happy to chaperone you through the maze of unnamed streets for a few pennies.
Jemaa el Fna, Marrkech Centre - just ask for 'the big square'.
Google map: bit.ly/9ldyds
If you want to visit and experience a real, non-touristy market this is the place to go. This is a lesser-known traditional Moroccan market used mainly by locals. You can buy souvenirs for yourself and your home as well as gifts for friends and relatives at a cheaper price than elsewhere.
Only a few minutes' taxi ride from the main tourist areas.
Ask for Casabarata. Also next to the market is an historic Mosque.
Google map: bit.ly/91NUOt
My friend and I booked the Suite Royale (after hours of comparing riads) for $175 night (May/June) and it was amazing. Insanely so. Huge - five or so rooms including a bathroom with a lounge and fireplace, a grand piano room, a relaxation room, a balcony overlooking the pool, 15 foot ceilings and collection-worthy furniture.
Plus, the riad is in a great location, the staff were friendly and helpful, and the decor was stunning.
Restaurant and bar suggestions:
- Al Fassia for dinner. Absolutely go. But the secret is out, so book your reservations in advance via the internet. We received an excellent wine recommendation (and drank it the rest of the trip). The food was the best we had all week. Lastly: great atmosphere and people-watching. The human scenery was half the fun.
- Le Foundouk for dinner. The inside is very nice, but it's nothing compared to the rooftop deck, which would be worth a trip even if the food wasn't so good. Getting there is a little scary but that's part of the fun.
- La Mamounia for a drink. You will have to give-up your firstborn to pay for it, but lounging outside is such a nice break from the Marrakesh chaos that it's worth it.
- Maison Arabe for a drink at Le Club. It has that Rick's North African vibe. Piano player, upscale clientele, mixologist who takes his drinks seriously. A good way to start the evening.
Morocco trip report (Marrakesh, Essaouira, Atlas Mountains) at: www.travelmusings.net/morocco/
29 Arset Aouzal, Bab Doukkala, 40000 Marrakech, Maroc
00 212 524 38 54 51
Google map: tinyurl.com/3xvu4nr
55 Souk Hal Fassi, Kat Bennahid, 00212 (0)524378190
MH 9bis route de l'Ourika, 40000 Marrakech
TEL: +212 524 38 38 39
Avenue Bab Jdid, 40040, Marrakech
1, Derb Assehbé, Bab Doukkala
(+212) 5 24 38 70 10
A side of meat hanging outside a tent; choose your piece, it's sliced, minced, patted together with fresh coriander, fried, the freshest meatballs you've ever tasted. At one end of the market, old blokes try out a new mule (yours for only 600 euros, but that was the starting price: haggling is the order of the day), or bargain for sheep and goats. The other end, cheap plastic kitchenware, lurid furnishing fabrics, row upon row of clay tagines. Nail clippers, tins of sardines, old bikes, shoemenders, it's all here. Never mind the tourist souks of Fez or Marrakesh with their pink babouches and knitted camels, this is the real thing. Where else can you sip mint tea in a tent and be serenaded by an old turbaned fiddler in bottle-glass specs?
Azrou - bus from Meknes; market is 20 minutes walk from the bus station
Google map: tinyurl.com/3xk8we9
It is definately worth investigating hiring a guide to go around the souk with you in Morocco. Not only will you get less hassle from the sellers but you can avoid getting lost (it is a maze) and also benefit from their local knowledge.
Be careful as most guides will receive a commission from stall owners for bringing tourists, but don't let this deter you.
Preferable if you are female.
Google map: tinyurl.com/3xhxvkf
This has to be one of the best riads in Marrakech. Oliver and his staff are very welcoming and friendly. The accommodation is first class with all rooms air conditioned. The food is Moroccan home cooking at its best. Dar Najat is just five minutes walk from the centre of the bustling city and is a quiet and calm place to return to after a busy day of sightseeing.
From start to finish a wonderful experience. We were picked up at the airport and arrived at the riyad to a very warm welcome that included mint tea and pastries. We were treated as if the riyad were our home. It was not a hotel experience-I'd say more like the ultimate B&B. We were in the heart of the medina and within walking distance of most of the major attractions. Our hosts made sure we were comfortable getting around, made taxi and restaurant reservations for us and treated us like royalty. The riyad is stunning and felt very old world, but with all of the modern conveniences one would need, down to Wifi. I hope to go back. Don't miss out on the hammam while there. The food was plentiful, delicious and beautiful.
A lovely quiet guest house intriguingly hidden away down a tunnel ("can this be the right way?!") within the maze of narrow streets in the northern Medina of Marrakech. A great base for exploring the Medina and the souks and a tranquil refuge from the frenetic pace when you need it. Simple rooms with lots of character. Excellent breakfasts served in the pretty courtyard by the swimming pool. Hammam and various invigorating health treatments also available.
N°8 Derb Myara, Sidi Ben Slimane, 40 000 Marrakech - Morocco
+ 212 524 426 463
Erg Chigaga are sand dunes region in Morocco close to M'hamid. They are about 60km off road from M'hamid. I love these sand dunes as they are exactly as you imagine the real desert to be. They spread over 40 km with many many high peaks of sand hills spreading around. It is a very magical place that will bring unforgettable memories.
To travel to Erg Chigaga you must have 4x4 WD. There are no buses, trains or any other way of transportation. The best way is probably to book a tour. We recommend www.your-morocco-tour.com. The other option is to rent 4x4 WD.
Google map: tinyurl.com/3273rgc
Beautiful Riad and Kasbah about 15km outside of Marrakech that is the perfect place to get away from it all for a few days once you have explored the city. The service is impeccable, the rooms are pure luxury and the food is very good (although not the best we had on our trip). The thing that makes this place stand out is the peace and quiet and it gives you the opportunity to just really chill out after the madness of they city itself.
Travelling through Morocco with a friend and spending our time staying at a range of hotels and riads, this is so far and away the best accommodation in Morocco.
The riad was very central... in the middle of the medina. Dar Najat had a very welcoming homely feel, rooms were very well decorated, clean and classy.
With all that said, the best thing about the riad is the hospitality shown. Morocco isn't an easy country to travel so coming back to a riad where you are well looked after is a must. They helped us out a lot when we got sick with the owner Olivier getting medication for us.
Cant say enough good things about this place. Thanks guys... you really made our stay in Marrakech a good one!
Will be back in four weeks for our last two nights in this great country
Douar Graoua Kennaria, nº 18 Derb Lalla Chacha,
This was a truly amazing experience, and the staff were an assett to Morocco, with african/reggae tones and tunes underlying this vibrant and chilled out Riad. We visited with our two children aged 11 & 17 who were thorougly cherished by all of the staff. We were made to feel welcome from the outset. This Riad comes complete with its very own Bob Marley and Jerry Lewis to name a few of the staff. African decour throughout provided a chillaxed atmosphere, clean and tidy and homely. The home cooked food truly exceptional and the prices even more so. I have not stayed in such a happy enviroment abroad before where the staff are entertaining and laughing all day.
A huge, hulking presence in downtown Casablanca, it's more like a 'block' than a building. The architect, Paul Tournon, carries on his lifelong love affair with reinforced concrete here to inspiring effect. It's free to enter (when it's open), but you have to part with a few dirhams to see upstairs.
The ground floor is amazing enough, though. If you'd ever wondered what a cathedral looked like with all the ornamentation taken out, this is the place for you. In a city short on sights (discounting Hassan II Mosque), it's well worth a detour.
Google map: bit.ly/b1DPeu
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