A slightly scary experience driving from the airport - I wasn't expecting the roads to be quite as crazy as they were, but I was very thankful we weren't driving ourselves and our driver seemed well practised at meandering through the chaos.
On arrival we were greated with a cup of Marrakech's speciality Mint Tea - which I very quickly fell in love with (and have managed to recreate at home since!). The room we were in was very pretty and the whole riad was beautifully decorated.
We ate up on the roof terrace one night, which was spectacular. As the riad is really close to the main square in Marrakech we were very close to the large mosque and so during dinner we heard the prayer time, it was a very weird sensation and we really felt like we were truely in a very different culture to the UK (just what I wanted).
The close proximity to the main square suited us perfectly as it meant we could wander around very easily without getting too lost in the markets. I would really advise anyone going to Marrakech to visit the square but be very aware of what is going on around you - I very nearly had my hands henna tattooed without even noticing and no doubt if the lady had started painting my hand I'd have been landed having to pay for the henna (even though the last thing I needed was henna).
I'd recommed Cafe de France in the centre of the square for a tea or coffee even if you're not going there to eat, the two terraces offer a fantastic view of the square and the entrances to the souk. It's a fantastic place to pitch up and take some artistic snaps for your holiday album without fear of being hassled for money from snake charmers and men with funny colourful hats on.
We did have a few friends staying in a hotel in new town marrakech - their hotel wasn't a scratch on the riad and it was a trek to get into the souks, however we did eat out at a lovely asian fusion restaurant in the new town which was great as although we could get wine at the riad, it proved fairly difficult to get a glass of wine at many restaurants in the old town....so at the end of our day of exploring the square and souks, we felt we deserved a good bottle of Marrocan wine (even if I'd have preferred to have had Marrocan food to go with it).
At the end of our trip check out was a very painless process - our flight wasnt until the evening and we were able to stay in our room until 12. So we spent most of the morning cramming our bags full of gifts and goodies we'd bought and then had a very relaxing quiet afternoon chilling out on the roof terrace with our books and a lovely silver teapot of sweet mint tea. Our taxi came to pick us and our bags up on time and the drive to the airport was also fine (I think I'd expected the journey to be crazy like our arrival drive - but I must have got used to the crazy driving by then).
I loved Marrakech and I can't wait to take my parents out there soon as I know that my Dad especially would love it and the amazing food and wine.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A cool, calm riad situated only moments from the bustle and excitement of the Place Jemaa el Fna, Riad Bel Haj is a haven of peace and tranquility in the Medina of Marrakech. The riad has been lovingly renovated and beautifully decorated to create a contemporary yet comfortable home for visitors to Marrakech. Traditional Moroccan materials and craftsmanship have been used to great effect and there are all the modern refinements guests would expect such as air conditioning, free WiFi Internet access and iPod docking stations. The riad is perfectly located in a well lit and easy to find derb, close to Bab Ksour and only two minutes from the Place Jemaa el Fna or the entrance to the souks. The nearest vehicular access is 50 metres from the front door and Riad Bel Haj is also close to the shops and restaurants of modern day Marrakech in the Gueliz district. ... more less