Simo (day manager) and Karim (night manager) are such friendly individuals. Simo greeted us when we arrived on 18 Sept with such warmth. Beforehand, we booked airport transfer for 20 euros just to avoid the trouble of finding the riad if we used a taxi. It was our honeymoon so we wanted simplicity. We were greeted at the airport and taken to the riad. On our way there, we were pointed out important sites. :) Simo met with us and gave us mint tea while we filled out a form with information for tax purposes I believe. Then he escorted us to the roof terrace. The best part is that our bags were already in our room, the Oriental suite. The terrace was lovely. Immediately, Simo spent time to organize day trips and answer our questions.
Our room was cozy. It's one of the bigger ones in the riad and oh so comfortable. The riad is very quiet with the occasional sparrow bell being rung by other guests to be let in. The bed was comfortable and the room was very modernly equipped while still maintaining the traditional Moroccan decor. We read other reviews about the 5am call for prayer being a nuisance, but in all honesty it was so quiet that when the call for prayer came it was more of a lullaby as the voice had great resonance and tone. Plus you are in an Islam dominated country! Everyone should expect to hear the call for prayer five times a day.
Breakfast was delicious. Initially we thought bread and jams with eggs and fruits would not be enough. It was as it kept us fueled. I ate so much butter. Plus what was great is once we ordered mint tea, mint tea was always served at breakfast without question. Yum. The fresh squeezed juice is great too. Another bonus is that you can request to have breakfast earlier if you need to. We did that for a day trip on Monday. Also, for 18 Euros per person you can have a three course home cooked meal. WELL WORTH IT! We were beyond stuffed in a food coma. Beautiful salads were served as starters. We had eggplant (I hate eggplant aka aubergine but the way it was made I lapped it up), courgettes, Moroccan salad, and a potato salad. I ordered chicken tagine and my husband the beef. Both were delicious. The beef portion was very generous. Finally dessert was fruits in honey and cinnamon. YUM!
We had Simo arrange two day trips for us, Ourika valley and Ouzoud waterfalls. It is 400 Dirhams per person, relatively 100-200 Dirhams than most tour companies, but you get lunch included and Simo made sure to advise them this is a special trip. Ourika was AMAZING! Hands down my favorite trip for the experience. From the get go, we were seated at the front and our driver was so friendly. Our first stop was with a camel caravan and to our surprise he guided my husband and I to have a 15min ride as a gift for our honeymoon. Second stop was the aromatherapy gardens. Our guide was sweet and we spent time learning and buying items. So much so that we kept everyone waiting for a long while. Oops! Third stop was a rickety old bridge that was so sturdy that everyone dared to walk across to get great shots of the valley. Fourth stop was lunch, which was average but eating next to the river was fantastic. Finally, we met our wonderful guide who guided us on hiking. Imagine I did not expect hiking. WOW the Berbers really are physically fit. We hiked, stopped by a village to shop (bought amazing rose quartz and turquoise necklaces for a great bargain thanks to my haggling times at Khan El Khalili in Cairo), and our guide even helped me to haggle more. My shoes had no grip climbing the rocks. After my first slip, our guide always led others and made sure to help me. We tipped him 30 Dirhams (I wish we had more) and he was so grateful. Our driver gave us a great experience. He was friends with all the locals. He even stopped to buy lamb at a butcher's shop who knew him by name. Bonus part is our guide spoke some English, good Spanish, and French.
Ouzoud was NOT the best trip. The views, don't get me wrong, were absolutely breathtaking, but the experience was not the same. Our driver was nice but just in a distant way. He didn't slow down like our other driver did when my husband, a photographer, would take photos. But that is a selfish reason. Our driver did not engage in conversation and seemed to just treat the trip as a routine. The guide he booked for this trip was HORRIBLE! Imagine seeing other groups getting stories told about the history, etc, and we got nothing. How can we be a group that arrives last yet leaves first?! Our guide would hike with us, and when he would speak sounded a bit bored. He made an unnecessary break for people to swim (which no one really did) for over 30min. Then we spent an ungodly amount of time with the monkeys just because one couple had a bag of nuts. Everyone else went crazy for the monkeys but we wanted to get to the waterfalls too and not spend 20min with the monkeys. We took an essentially mandatory boat ride to cross to the place we would eat lunch. It was 20 Dirhams but worth it as you get close to the waterfalls. Lunch was great but there was confusion initially if our lunch was covered. Our guide found the driver to confirm. After a big lunch, this is what made me upset. Not even 10min and our guide says time to hike. He made no stop at a great lookout point for the falls and never checked once to see if the group was together. My husband and I used our instincts and found our way to the group. We thought they were waiting for us, but no, more monkey time. Another 15min was spent there and he rushed. I even managed to find another lookout point into the mountains where you can spot a Berber village. At this point my husband and I were our own guides. However, we ALMOST got LOST because our guide's inability to keep track of people. Thanks to a local child, we found our group, but this time it was at the parking lot. What makes it pushy is that he said his services were paid for, but tip is not included. People were happy so were giving money, and when it came to us we said no tip because he never checked on us, missed look out points, and rushed the hike so much so that I even vomited my lunch. Instead of taking further notes about how he could have improved this trip, he started arguing with us. He even had the audacity to tell our driver about us. He pushed for tip non-stop and when he gave up and sneered at us, he proceeded to make a phone call on his IPAD! WTF!
Despite the unfortunate Ouzoud trip booked by our riad, the experience was amazing. I slept so comfortably and felt at home. We spent two lazy afternoons in our room just relaxing. In the 35+ heat, the air conditioning was welcome. The only downside is that there is no soundproofing so it does tend to get a little self-conscious about how loud we are speaking and shuffling around. We will be happy to come here again. Thank you Simo and Karim!!!!!
Oh it's a bonus that the riad is right next to Berrima mosque. It made it so easy with taxi rides and directions. Plus the palace Badi is right close by as well as palace Bahia. Oh and silly me the spice market is right at the end until the major road too. I didn't notice until our last day. Haha!