If you want to experience the real Marrakech, this Riad is the place for you. It is located in the Larouss area of the Medina and my wife and I stayed here for 10 days in November and paid around €50 a night. We had free transfers from and back to the airport which were organised by the hotel so that was a bit of a bonus. You really need somebody who knows the area to get you to the Riad because the Medina is so complicated to navigate you will easily get lost in the meandering streets. Pay no attention to the streets as you approach the Riad because once that front door opens, you are transported into a different world. The first thing that struck us was the peace. Outside is all hustle and bustle but inside there is a tranquillity and quiet which is quite mesmerising. We were sat in the open air courtyard by a small rose petalled pool and given a rundown of the principal places and sights by Mohammed over a pot of mint tea and given a map marked with all the relevant information. Long white drapes flow from the first floor balcony and the whole experience is quite ethereal.
The Riad has only six rooms and ours was on the first floor. It consisted of a large double bed which was very comfortable, small wardrobe, bathroom with shower and toilet and all decorated with traditional materials. There was plenty of hot water, an air conditioning system and a heater if you need it – we did in November during the evening. Woven flax adorned the wall above the bed, lintels painted in bright colours and wooden shutters over the windows.
Breakfast is usually served on the roof terrace and on most days it was warm and sunny enough to do this. Breakfast consisted of mint tea, coffee, a hot pancake, bread stick cut into pieces, fruit, apricot and plum jams, yoghurt and cake of various types. Dinner is on request and there is a small menu offering local dishes but we did not try this. There are so many restaurants in Marrakech in every price range, you are spoilt for choice.
The staff are a real credit to the establishment. Nothing is too much trouble and Bashir in particular is an absolute mine of information. If you want to know where to eat, buy wooden boxes, go on tours, find museums he knows a huge amount about Marrakech and Morocco generally. This is so important in a place like Marrakech because the culture is very different to western culture and local knowledge can save you a lot of time and trouble. On one occasion, we were seriously delayed on our return train trip from Casablanca and did not arrive back at the Riad until 1.30 in the morning. The taxi driver rang the Riad from the station in advance quite unbeknown to us and Mohammed was outside in the street looking for us. Now that’s dedication to duty!
Being a Muslim country and a fairly devout one, alcohol is not sold in many of the smaller Riads or restaurants for that matter. Le Coq Berbere is no exception but there is no problem with you buying wine or beer in a supermarket and bringing it back to drink. In the supermarket you can expect to pay around 70 dirham (about £6) but about three times that in restaurants if they do sell alcohol.
Tours to places of interest can be organised by the hotel and it is best to try and do this with at least two other people because it halves the cost. We went to the Atlas mountains and Essaouira and both trips were really good.
Overall we would say that if you want to experience the real Marrakech atmosphere this is a great place to stay and at a reasonable cost, but don’t expect 4 star quality. It is comfortable, the roof terrace is lovely especially on a warm November afternoon and the staff are really helpful. On the downside the Riad does need a bit of upgrading in parts, some of which are looking a bit tired.
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