Morocco : Marrakech
Marrakech is a bustling, exciting city. The windowless alleyways of the medina offer a shoppers' paradise with almost everything on sale from silverware and leather slippers to sacks of dates and pomegranates, carpets, spices and woven materials. In the main square, Djemaa el Fna, acrobats, fire-eaters, snake-charmers and dancers entertain the crowds, and as night falls, the square becomes a huge outdoor restaurant with the smell of spices and sizzling meats filling the air as calls to prayer reverberate from the nearby mosques. You can either stay in enchanting riads within the ancient ochre walls of the city, close to the main bustle of the medina and Djemaa el Fna, or you can stay in the more peaceful oasis outside the city walls in the Palmeraie where there are a number of superb larger hotels and excellent 18-hole golf courses within a short drive. With the Atlas Mountains close enough for a day trip and the coast only 3 hours away, it is a great place to base your Moroccan holiday.
Riad l'Orangeraie is a lovely, arty riad with a fantastic location in the heart of the Old Medina. Elegantly restored and run by two French brothers, it has friendly ambience and special touches like Casablanca showing on a projector over the plunge pool. The seven rooms are set around two small courtyards over two floors. There are three suites and four bedrooms, all warmly and colourfully decorated to reflect their spicy names (Canelle, Coriandre, Curcuma...). The riad’s roof terrace has wonderful views to the Atlas Mountains, and the riad is conveniently close to the souks and Djemma al Fna.
Riad Siwan is a stylish and beautifully renovated riad down an unprepossessing alley near Djemaa El Fna. The Dutch owners Cees and Maryk have not just given this former ruin new life, but have put a serious sense of style into every element from the stunning lighting to the individual beds and bathrooms. Ornately-carved columns tower over the plant-filled courtyard, while the rooftop has amazing views and plenty of space to soak up the sun, while at mezzanine level there is a discreet narrow plunge pool. There are seven spacious suites, each individually designed with a flourish of fabrics and bold design, and a wonderful dining room which makes you want to dine in for the stylish interiors alone. The riad can also arrange massages on request.
In a traditional Arab house, a riad, daily life centres around the central courtyard. Here you will find fruit trees and a fountain, the gentle sound of which washes away the stresses of the day. The elegance of the décor will provide the calm and comfort after a day of touring the medina. Every room in the riad is unique, drawing on the rich cultural heritage of Moorish art and décor. At the end of a day full of sights, tastes, and smells, Dar Les Cigognes provides a calming atmosphere for you to relax in. The riad is made up of two town houses connected by a bridge over the alleyway. They have opted for cool and soothing colours in the courtyard, while the 11 rooms & suites each take their cue from a different region of Morocco. You will find Berber designs represented, as well as the craftwork of Fes and the other imperial cities. Throughout, they have stayed true to the spirit of a traditional Marrakech riad, but have updated it to suit the requirements of the modern traveller. From the roof terrace, you can watch the sun set and the ancient minaret of the Koutoubia mosque stands out in the distance. On a clear day you can see the snow covered peaks of the Atlas Mountains.
"Very friendly, caring and helpful staff and some lovely touches."
Andy and Caroline, London
"The best accommodation and service (and there was much competition!). Excellent massage."
Robert and Elizabeth, Northumberland
This stunning five-star riad hotel within the Medina walls in the Koutoubia area of the city is a personal favourite, superbly decorated yet comfortable and informal. The perfect compliment to the hustle and bustle of the various activities found in Marrakech, it is only a few hundred metres from the well-known Djamma el-Fna. A hidden gem in the Medina.
From the moment you enter the high walled walkway, you feel as though you are entering another world. The Riad, built in 1930, has kept all the original traditional Moroccan features, and has walls coated in rich mosaic patterns, and hand-carved cedar and painted ceilings. There are 16 lavish en-suite rooms all uniquely decorated, with air conditioning, a safe box, mini bar, satellite television and a phone, and some have private terraces.
The riad is based around a central courtyard adorned with orange blossom trees, exotic plants and beautiful fountains. Guests can enjoy a number of private sitting rooms, the restaurant serving local dishes and the complimentary open bar offering soft drinks, mint tea (Moroccan whisky!) and pastries. There is a small swimming pool on the roof terrace where complementary soft drinks are served, and you can also enjoy views of the Atlas Mountains and the famous Koutoubia Mosque, which dominates the centre of Marrakech.
This old traditional town guest-house (maison d'hotes) is built within the old Medina walls in the Bar Doukala region of Marrakech, and only 15 minutes walk from the entertaining Djemma el-Fna. Behind the impressive ochre walls you will find a subtle yet lavish traditional Moroccan home set around two courtyards. One containing a traditional mosaic decorated swimming pool with a relaxing, spacious area to enjoy your meals or the heat of the day. The other courtyard unveils a bright and cheerful small exotic garden. Inside the walls of the Dar El Assafir it is remarkably peaceful, with only the birds breaking the silence with their cheerful chattering, translated into English 'Dar El Assafir' means the 'House of birds'.
There are six rooms, all decorated differently with their own charm and style, while each one looks out onto one of the courtyards, some also have terraces and fireplaces and fabulous mosaic bathrooms. A further three bedrooms and two bathrooms make up the Swallow Apartment, this is ideal for families or small groups.
There is a comfortable and cosy sitting room and dining room, although most stays are on a bed and breakfast basis (to enable you the freedom to enjoy a number of Marrakech's fabulous restaurants), it is also easy to arrange evening meals within the guesthouse. From the ochre red roof terrace, you can enjoy views and gentle hum of the ancient city, while in the evening the stunning sunset should not be missed.
This luxurious riad is tucked away into a quiet corner of the ancient walled city, only 10 minutes walk from the Djemaa El Fna, and offers its guests all the amenities of modern life as well as the charm of traditional Moroccan ornamentation.
The hotel comprises two riads joined together. In the main house, with its soothing tones, there are two bedrooms, a dining room with vaulted ceiling, and sitting room. The newer, adjoining guest wing is more colourful in design, and houses a green tiled swimming pool, a dining room with fireplace for chillier evenings and five bedrooms. There are three private roof terraces for sunbathing and all rooms are en-suite and air-conditioned.
A delightful riad-style hotel situated in the heart of the medina and only 5 minutes walk from the Djemaa el Fna Square. A big wooden door leads through to the small patio garden into a world of greenery in the interior court where one can relax and enjoy the peace away from the bustle of the streets outside. At night the fountains, lanterns and fireplaces adds a bit of magic to the experience. It has 8 charming rooms, each with a private bathroom and all very different from each other. This riad was completely renovated by a French Architect Christian Ferre with many authentic Moroccan-style features. It has two riad courtyards - a large and a small with gurgling fountains as well as two comfortable salons each with open fireplaces. There are a couple of terraces to relax on and a pool on the roof to cool down in in the heat of the day. Breakfast is served at your convenience either in your room, on the terrace or in the court garden.
Winding along the ochre lofty walls of the old city, Riad Enija is a treasure behind the mysterious walls. If you are looking for a small and truly authentic Moroccan stay, this is the place. It is right in the heart of the Medina and just of the edge of the maze of souks. Plenty of work and care has gone into restoring the nine rooms with stunning mosaic work and intricate carvings. Each room has a different theme but they are all colourful and extremely well decorated with plenty of silk, rich colours, carpets and floor cushions, all the rooms are en-suite. Each room either looks onto the central leafy courtyard with its stunning flowers, orange trees, and central fountain or onto the roof terrace, which commands views of the old town. The riad is only three minutes walk from the Djemma el-Fna and is one of the most desirable riads within the Medina.
Caravanserai, a Persian word, describes a resting place on trading routes where merchants would stop to water camels, on the edge of cities, washing, eating and sleeping before going into town to sell their wares. With this in mind a small 17 bed roomed hotel has been designed, in the Palmeraie area just 10 minutes drive from Marrakech and where the emphasis is still on relaxation and pampering. On arrival, it's like going back in time, you enter a small village with children playing and chickens pecking the ground yet you are so close to the bustling city.
There is a rustic feel to the hotel but much care and attention has been taken in the small luxuries, the decoration, the courtyards, rooms and roof terraces are colourful and tasteful. There are a number of roof terraces, some private with the rooms but all have great views, some of the Atlas Mountains, the River Tensift and the skyline of the city. The 17 rooms are all individually decorated, some have fireplaces and 2 have private pools, they all have en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning. The hotel has a hammam, full size swimming pool, bar, restaurant and several terraces. The Caravanserai operates a free minibus service to and from Marrakech city centre three times daily. They will also assist with excursions to the Atlas Mountains, Essaouira, palm groves, camel treks, horse riding, quad bikes, golf and walking.
"Once inside, it's so peaceful and stunning."
Peter and Rosie, London
Set in five acres of incredibly beautiful gardens, strewn with palm, orange, olive, oleander and fig trees, this exclusive hideaway is only a fifteen-minute drive from the centre of Marrakech, located in the Palmeraie. The splendid villa, in its Arab-Andalusian style, is a maze of tradition, where at every turn there are arches, lanterns, antiques and alcoves. The imposing pool is hard to resist, and at night, when adorned by lantern-light, the effect is dazzling.
There are four rooms and two suites, each individually and richly decorated, plus a detached little house in the grounds, which comprises a bedroom, living room with fireplace, bathroom and terrace. There are two dining rooms and a living room with a fireplace. Other facilities include a hammam (steam bath), sauna, and a private office with computer, fax and Internet.
Amanjena means peaceful paradise and perfectly describes this luxurious hotel unrivalled in Morocco. It is only seven kilometres from the busy Marrakech centre and the endless souks yet the hotel is set in spacious, tranquil gardens and the perfect place to relax at the beginning or end of your holiday.
Amanjena's 34 pavilions and six, two-storey maisons are set within an oasis of palms and old olive trees and all over look one of the three stunning water features. Each pavilion is air-conditioned and includes a king sized bed, a high domed living room, a spacious bathroom and dressing area. There is also a mini-bar, a CD player and a television. Each pavilion also enjoys a private courtyard complemented by a minzah (gazebo), a lounge sofa and a dining area.
There is a heated outdoor swimming pool and Pool Terrace, where lunch and refreshments are served through out the day. There is also a Health Centre, with its hammams (steam baths) for men and women, along with separate whirlpools. The hotel is situated alongside an 18-hole golf course with a second course, a royal golf course, less than a kilometre away. Other facilities include a gym, treatment and massage rooms, a beauty salon and two hard-surface tennis courts, lit for night play.
Riad Azzar is a traditional and friendly riad run by a Dutch couple, Maryk and Cees. Behind a large unmarked wooden door close to Djemaa al Fna, it has six rooms and suites set around a pretty courtyard with an inviting jade plunge pool. There are three suites, one twin and two double rooms, richly decorated in shades of brown and cream or deep purple, with Moroccan carved furniture, silk cushions and throws, and little touches like a log basket by the fireplace. Breakfast is served (weather permitting) on the roof terrace, which has views over the rooftops and sun loungers for quiet moments between shopping and sightseeing. Dinner is available on request in the cosy dining room. Djemaa el Fna is only a few minutes walk away and the owners are on hand to help with all arrangements around Marrakech.
Riad Anya is situated in the heart of the Medina, just 5 minutes walking from the Jamaa el Fena square and the royal palace. They are in fact two houses combined into one and restored with pure Moroccan tradition, the riad has two patios separated by a salon giving a bit more space and quiet. Riad Anya is a true oasis of relaxation with a swimming pool and a lovely terrace, with splendid views over the Atlas Mountain, the Koutoubia, the Medina and the gardens of la Mamounia.
The riad has 9 rooms and suites, they are all spacious and different, all have air conditioning, heating and a private bath room. The service is excellent, and you will be made to feel at home in this lovely riad.