Have read some of the other reviews on here and although the location is a bit of an eye opener it was exactly what we were looking for to explore the real heart of Marrakech. I guess some on here either didn't put the research in or are better suited to the infinately more expensive hotels in the "new Marrakech".
Firstly the Ryad itself, found just inside the city walls down one of the alleyways, the door opens to a lovely guest house with 5 rooms on the balcony level overlooking the downsatairs communal/dining area. The rooms are basic but traditionally decorated with large en-suite & walk in shower. Air-conditioned with a comfy bed all you need for a good night sleep until you're woken by the first call to prayer by the Iman over the loudspeakers on the nearby Mosque at 5am!
All the staff are friendly & helpful, Amin the manager arranged Taxi's to and from the airport, gave us tips on where to visit & how much we should pay for taxis or horse drawn carriage, he also booked a once in a lifetime balloon flight for us to watch the sun rise over the Atlas mountains & a luxury spa trip for Hamman & Massage. Breakfast is basic & as mentioned the "mini bar" containing water/soda etc is very expensive but shops down every alley way sell the same for a few dirhams. We were going to eat an evening meal in the Ryad but were put off by a rather vile couple who seemed to do nothing but complain from the moment they arrived so can't comment on the quality of food.
Marrakech itself - if your looking for lounging by the pool, 5 star luxury & bars & restaurants then stick the newer part of town & pay for it (we took a trip there one night £9 for a cocktail & £6 for a glass of coke so be warned!). The first night venturing into the main square is daunting & you will get lost as we were promised. Yes the streets & alleys are not clean, do smell and seeing groups of locals hanging around is a little intimidating but someone will offer to show you the way, usually expecting a tip for the privelage but most are polite keen to practise their english usally point out the sites on the way. Once you find the main square its pretty over-whelming, at night food stalls are packed in as the owners try their "cockney" patter on you to tempt you in, most sell pretty much the same basic food at the same price so take your pick. Through the day you will see snake chamers, monkeys on leads and the shops coming to life. Wander through the Soukhs & be prepared to haggle for everything we usually ended up paying less than 25% of their opening offer. (If your looking for spices etc head to the Jewish Mellah where you will pay a fraction of what the shops around the square charge). The best advice i can give is act confident & a forceful but polite no thankyou is usually enough to warn off the overkeen shop keepers.
All in all we had a wonderful experience and got to sample a totally different culture and met some very welcoming people.
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