Dar Rocmarra was recommended to us through the company we did out desert trip with, and we felt really lucky to have found it. We even got a discount because we had already booked with Desert Majesty!
After a dusty, hectic and slightly deflating time getting through Marrakech and getting fleeced by cab drivers, Jamila came and met us from our taxi, led us down the pretty back streets and into the little bit of peaceful heaven that is Dar Rocmarra. There was mint tea and little cakes to welcome us and Jamila sat us down at the main table to talk us through what we'd need to know about Marrakech and give us a map. She's amazing - so friendly, so helpful and always dressed in the most beautiful clothes! The dar is small, only a handful of rooms around a main courtyard with a dipping pool and a big tree reaching up to the blue sky above. It's all clean and bright and elegant and simple and beautiful.
There's a gorgeous roof terrace too. When we came back in the evenings, we'd take our bottle of water in it's decorative silver holder and pretty glasses up to the roof for a Moroccan-style nightcap (we didn't drink while we were there, it's really easy not to because no one else is and it felt like a good opportunity to be a bit healthy!). Jaleel came running up after us to bring a candle and turn the lights on on the stairs. They're just always concerned about making sure you're having a lovely time. It's a perfect place to watch sunrise, set, listen to the muezzin call, sunbathe or watch stars.
Once you know where the dar is, it's really easy to find again. Like most dars, it's about three back streets (walking only) away from a place where a taxi can drop you. A one minute walk along cobbles. Then it's about a 10 minute walk South through the souk to Jmaa El Fna, past Cafe Arabe - which is where most travellers go if they want a beer. It's a great location and feels safe, even at night time. It's also near the Henna Cafe, which we didn't go to, but has lots of great reviews.
Our room, the Berber Room, was utterly charming - so much better than the pictures: more comfortable, beautifully decorated and homely - and less sparse than the pics look on the site. It leads straight off the main courtyard so you can hear the gentle plink-plinking of the fountain. It's just dreamy. But it's still very private, there was no noise from other rooms. The bed and the bathroom were decorated with strewn rose petals when we arrived. The bathroom was heavenly - spotlessly clean and neat, with shower gel and shampoo in little silver capped tubes, big fluffy white bath robes, towels and slippers. Shower is pretty good (I thought a little lacking in pressure... then I tried other ones in Morocco and realised it was good!). The bathroom/ loo is separated from the main room only by a curtain over the doorway (so if one of you gets Morocco belly, the other might like to conveniently go and read a book on the terrace occasionally) - still, that's more much privacy than some dar rooms afford!
Breakfast was just fabulous! We had it up on the roof terrace which is a total joy to come up to with flowers and plants and sun beds and breakfast tables. Like being in a five star hotel! We had slices of bread, butter, jam, Moroccan pancakes with honey, omlette with tomato, coffee, mint tea. Properly sets you up for the day. Breakfast is between 8 and 10 but on two out of the three mornings of our stay we were being picked up for trips at 8 so they served us at 7:30 - they really can't do enough to help you.
As for dinner, I wish we'd known at the time but our meal we had at the dar was to be far and away the best meal we had during our time in Morocco. We had lamb tagine with prunes and it was incomparable. Sweet, dark, sticky with soft lamb just melting of the bone. It's quite an expensive meal compared to what you can get in Jmaa El Fnaa square or the restaurants in town but I'd say suck it up, it's so memorable. We ate, just the two of us as the big main table in the courtyard, next to the fountain and had Moroccan salad, the tagine, then divine chocolate mousse. All so delicious it's making me hungry typing about it. Jamila - you are a first rate chef.
TOP TIP 1
Jamila will offer you a pick up from the station/airport when you arrive. TAKE IT. It's a good price, unless you're an experienced haggler, probably a better one than you will manage to achieve yourself. I'd say this applies to almost all Medina riads and dars in fact because they are hard to find and maps are useless on the back streets. We haggled at the airport and got a fair price because the tourist police were looking THEN the taxi driver drove two streets away from the airport, got out of the cab and sent over a big scary man who said 'he will not take to you to your riad for this price, it is too low and the riad is not in the Medina.' [It is]. In the end, because I refused to budge on price the taxi dropped us in the main square instead and we couldn't find the way on our own. We had to get another taxi. When we arrived, we found that I had actually requested the airport pick up anyway but had forgotten. EPIC fail. They must have thought I was a total eejit, but if they did, they didn't show it. They didn't even charge me for it though. The customer service was just amazing at this place.
TOP TIP 2
If you're returning to the riad at night through the souk, a lot of the streets get closed off with big doors, so it's REALLY easy to get lost because your normal route gets closed. Also, people would tell us streets were closed even if they weren't and then kept trying to stop us going down the street. As soon as they know you're not on your normal route home, they badger and badger for you to let them show you the way (for money). After dark, it's much better to take the route around the wall (they show you this way when you arrive at the Dar) because you can't get lost that way. Or get a cab for about 40dirams. If you do risk the souk, ask directions from shop keepers - in the centre of the souk they are really nice and helpful. Further out (once we were lost and trying to get away from some people who were hassling us) they got less nice. One said 'Yeah, people aren't so helpful to foreigners out here, are they?' and then just turned away. It was a bit scary, even though we're pretty savvy travellers and were always polite, respectful and appropriately dressed.
I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Dar Rocmarra to anyone going to Marrakech - in fact I'd really badger at my friends to stay here. It's funny with dars and riads because there's so many, and so many of a really amazing standard. That first moment you walk in and get to explore your historic little inn is one of the best things about travelling in Morocco, so if I went to Marra again, I'd be tempted to try somewhere else and get that first 'ooh, amazing!' experience again. BUT the thing that would probably swing it would be that roof terrace and the dinner. I want that lamb tagine again!!