We got off to a very bad start with Riad Dubai as the airport taxi booked with them via email failed to turn up. We waited patiently at the airport for someone with a “Riad Dubai” sign and made 3 expensive mobile calls to the Riad - each time we were told the taxi would soon be there. After we had waited a full hour, there was still no Riad Dubai taxi so we lost patience and took our own taxi. We had to argue over the price of this - precisely what we had intended to avoid by booking an airport transfer with Riad Dubai. We paid double the price we were told the Riad’s taxi would cost.
We were dropped at Bab Ksiba, the nearest Medina (old town) gateway to Riad Dubai. Finding this Riad is virtually impossible unless you have been there before or you are met by Riad staff at Bab Ksiba. We asked two or three of the locals and each time we were sent in different directions, they just had no idea where Riad Dubai was! After quite a time searching fruitlessly we hit lucky and a very kind gentleman was able to lead us down the correct alleyways where we eventually found Riad Dubai. The young man at reception welcomed us but, despite us telling him how unhappy we were about all the time we had wasted waiting for their taxi at the airport, he offered no apologies. We were then offered a mint tea, and were sat down for a briefing about our stay.
We were shown to our room (number 4) which seemed spacious enough to us but was very dimly lit. The bed was well covered with layers of blankets but there was no wardrobe hanging space whatsoever. There was a rather rickety old chest of drawers in which we were able to store some but not all of our clothes. The bathroom was small with a shower, toilet & wash hand basin (no bath). The plumbing and bathroom fitments were old-fashioned and a bit wobbly. The shower was a quaint Moorish-style structure which worked well enough but was rather dark when the shower curtain was pulled and the basin drained away painfully slowly which meant that at the end of your shower you were paddling ankle-deep in water. We had a nice copper sink with mirror above. The toilet did not flush well at all and the toilet seat had definitely seen better days – it was loose and lots of paint was flaking off it. Our room had no lock other than a large bolt at either side which anyone could open. This is fine when you are in your room and you can bolt it securely from the inside but when you leave your room, you simply slide the brass bolt along. After that, anyone can easily gain access to your room. We had neither lock nor key and, presumably all the other rooms are the same. We saw no evidence of any safe in the Riad so for peace of mind, valuables really had to be carried with you when away from your room. On arrival, we handed our passports over to the staff for safe keeping but we’re pretty sure they were simply put in a drawer of the reception desk.
We would have been comfortable enough in our room but for the fact that remarkably, for Marrakech, it felt cold! The absolute maximum temperature we achieved in our room was 18°C and for most of the time it varied between 15 and 17°. We had an air conditioning unit in the room which presumably is meant to operate as a heater in cold weather but although we had it on its highest setting, it did not heat the room. It was obviously not working properly. We complained about the temperature in our room on more than one occasion but the staff did nothing about it. One even suggested giving us an extra blanket to add to the 6 we already had on the bed!
On the positive side, the wi-fi worked well on the ground floor and in our room although there was no signal on the roof terrace. Riad Dubai was not expensive to stay in but, as they say, you get what you pay for. Don’t expect anything which resembles a room in a modern hotel chain as staying in a Riad is completely different. We ate breakfast each day on the roof terrace which, even in January, was very pleasant. Breakfast is the same each day but perfectly acceptable and tasty. It consists of a freshly made pancake and a croissant, orange juice, coffee, bread, butter, “Laughing Cow” speadable cheese, a yoghurt, jam, honey and olives – in fact a perfectly adequate and enjoyable breakfast. We only ate beakfast at the Riad and so cannot make any comment on the other meals they offer. Elsewhere in Tripadvisor’s reviews for Riad Dubai some visitors describe it as “shabby chic” but we feel that the shabby far outweighs the chic.
We thoroughly enjoyed exploring Marrakech throughout our week’s stay, but we suspect like many visitors, we found it quite a culture shock compared with a rural town in the UK. It was like stepping back in time, even like being on another planet! Even in January it was extremely busy and you are constantly being confronted and harassed by people trying to sell you things or entice you to their stalls and shops. You just have to be polite and firm, but it does get a bit tedious after a while. Just try not to make eye contact – it’s fatal! There are also quite a lot of people (of all ages) begging for money. Many of the people in Marrakech are obviously very poor but it is impossible to give to all.
From Riad Dubai, it takes around 20 minutes to walk to the main square, Jemaa el Fna. This huge square just has to be experienced to get any idea of the hustle and bustle and the atmosphere, particularly at night. To walk to the main square from Riad Dubai you just have to head in a northerly direction either inside the medina along Rue de la Kasbah or outside the city walls where the walk is less interesting but at least you neither get hassled nor run down by the hundreds of mopeds, carts and taxis! To get a taxi just go to the gateway at Bab Ksiba (less than 5 minutes walk from the Riad) where they are passing more or less constantly. If there are less than 4 of you, take one of the smaller “petit taxis”. They are cheaper but be sure to either get the driver to use the meter or agree a price before you get in. In Jan 2014 the maximum we paid for a petit taxi was 50DH which is about £3.80, so although they are pretty basic, they are not expensive. We had fantastic weather all week from 2nd to 9th January and we hardly saw a cloud. It got quite hot in the middle of the day (around 25°C) but was much cooler at night when you need to wrap up in jumpers and/or coats. We also loved watching the many storks which are dotted around the medina and gaze down on the noise and chaos below with a certain serenity!
All in all, a very enjoyable and interesting week but we feel that Riad Dubai is rather over-rated on Tripadvisor. Our son and his girlfriend were with us in Marrakech the same week but staying in a different Riad. Theirs was called Riad Aubrac and we went with them to have a look. Their room, although a bit smaller than ours, was much nicer with a superior bathroom, a large wardrobe, a lock and key and a heater that worked. Their roof terrace was also nicer and tidier than Riad Dubai’s. They paid much the same as us. At the time of writing, Riad Dubai is ranked 184 out of 1014 B&B’s/Inns in Marrakech whereas Riad Aubrac is only ranked at number 317. It just goes to show that you can’t always rely entirely on Tripadvisor ratings & reviews. We hope this review will be helpful for future visitors to Riad Dubai.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- At the heart of the Kasbah of Marrakech is our beautiful Riad Dubai, 5 different beautiful suites with every comfort, air conditioning, safe, bath & shower, mini bar, SAT TV, internet wifi. Said the owner will prepare a special Moroccan cuisine for you, a terrace is waiting for you to relax and unwind, we organize all kinds of excursions in Marrakech and Morocco, a shuttle service to all airport transfers. Said and his wife Malika are waiting to offer you a pleasant and impeccable holiday . "Welcome to Riad Dubai" ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riad Dubai Hotel Marrakech