After completing a circuit of Europe in midwinter, we went down to Marrakesh for a bit of sun , and I can't say how glad I am that I booked in at Riad Laksiba.
We were met at the airport by Mohamed and Simon (proprietor) and taken to the Riad, which - as is the Moroccan way - looks like every other house from the outside. When you get inside though you can see the painstaking attention to detail in the furniture, artwork and even the doors. It is truly a beautiful and tranquil place to be. The roof-top is a wonderful place to chill out - it's complete with a Bedouin tent and tortoises. We were immediately shown our rooms and offered mint tea.
As we were a "group" of two guys and the Riad was quiet we were given a room each and, after settling in, Simon showed us the way to the main square (a very easy walk with loads to see on the way) stopping to chat to the locals as we went by. We were introduced to the local calligrapher, Mohamed, as well as various vendors and passers-by.
Once at the square Simon left us on our own and we promptly got lost in the Souks and ripped off by the very persistent ladies. On relating our experiences to everyone back at the Riad, the guys (Abdelhamid and Mohamed, both extremely formidable blokes) took us back to the square and got us our money back!
The staff were what made the Riad what it was. From Simon taking us on a very comprehensive walking tour of Marrakesh and organizing a Berber guide to take us up to the mountains (a must-do) to Nadia making us a delicious breakfast every morning (well, usually early afternoon) to get us going. Abdelhamid and Mohamed were always around to help - even showing us where to buy size 13 flip flops and doing the haggling with the very tough shopkeeper.
Location of the Riad was perfect. While the hustle and bustle of the square is a short walk away, the Kasbah on Laksiba's doorstep is the neighborhood to be. Everyone is friendly, there is plenty to see - tombs, several palaces and the metalworkers district as well as the Berber fruit and veg markets. After just a few days we felt almost local.
Our last evening was spent with everyone on the shisha pipe eating fig ice cream and cactus fruit - the perfect way to end a perfect trip. As mentioned above, the staff and their local knowledge are what make this place - you simply could not have the same experience if you stayed in a hotel. We were both disappointed to be leaving and Marrakesh was certainly the highlight of the trip.
Next time I'm at Riad Laksiba, it won't be like going on a holiday, it will be like going home.