Have just returned from a 3 night stay at the Dar Rhizlane and have left with mixed feelings about the place. First the good. It is a beautiful property, the decore and fittings in our room were all as you would imagine a Moroccan house to be like and as a first trip to Marrakech it was exactly what we wanted to find.
The room itself was not huge but was really well decorated in local style and very comfortable. There was plenty of wardrobe hanging space in the room and the corridor where the mini bar was also located. This all had a huge amount of charm. Comfortable bed and working air con were also present as was a largeish flat screen TV on the mantle piece above the fireplace, which couldn't have looked more out of place. I suspect this is demanded by guests these days but frankly we never once turned it on and the room would have looked better without it. We also had a private garden attached to our room which was a nice feature and somewhere to sit outside in the evening, although it has to be said it was not a very imaginatively planted and could have benefitted from some TLC. The only negative was the ensuite, which whilst it was again attractively decorated only had a bath and no shower. There was a hand held shower attachment but this was not able to be attached to the sloping wall and was very frustrating, I hate not having a shower in the morning. I asked at reception if they had any other rooms which did have a shower but was told none of their rooms had showers, which I am not entirely sure I believed and suspect it was more to shut me up. Shame.
The outside public areas are also very attractivre with many trees and flowers making for a very romatic setting. The pool was also a nice feature as were the double sun beds set out around it. Sitting for breakfast or dinner on their terrace was delightful, the trees shading you from any direct sun and the local muscicians in the evening adding to the ambience rather than trying to create it as is sometimes the case.
We only ate one dinner there, the evening we arrived, but were impressed with the overall quality of the food, but not blown away. The Marrakech salad that was the started (the menu is a set meal with no choice) contained many various small plates of item that gave a taste of the diversity of the local cuisine. Presentation had clearly been thought about and overall it was a great way to start the meal. The main course of chicken tagine was also good, although the chicken was slightly over cooked but had great flavour from the sauce it came with. We decided that dessert was a course too far and left it at that. Overall a good meal but not one I would make a special detour to sample.
Now on to the less good. I think that some of the staff are wonderful, really engaged and showed a truly hospitable approach to us. Unfortunately this was not across the board, others were less impressive. Whilst some of it may have been due to language barriers (my French is not that good) some of the behaviours were simply inappropriate for any hotel let alone one that has 5 stars and calls itself "the best Riad in Marrakech" as we were told by the reception girl when checking in. Examples of this are that if you are by the pool you are left completely alone with no staff even offering to get you a drink or refreshments. You have to walk to the bar where the waitresses were all talking and ask then to bring you want you wanted, which they then did. If you wanted anything further you would again have to get up and ask for it yourself. Now, whilst this is not in itself something I would normally get bothered by, it was the total lack of any kind of service culture that really surprised me. One afternoon, never having seen a menu we asked if they could make a club sandwich and was told yes and the waitress then went away to relay our order to the kitchen. 10 minutes later a man appeared asking us, very politely it must be said, what we had ordered because the waitress had not understood what we wanted. He again confirmed they could make a club sandwich and asked whether we wanted chicken or beef, we ordered one of each. What came back was chicken pieces in a small pita breads (4 of them!) and mini beef burgers again in 4 small pitas. Not exactly a club sandwich but again I suspect language issues are to blame here and they were both well cooked if way too much for a light lunchtime bite.
Breakfast was also another slight disappointment. There was lots of it, way too much infact, but it was all very carb heavy. We got local pancakes (actually very good and warm) several very thin crumpet like pancakes, a selection of patries (2 each of croissant, pain au chocolat and pain au raisin) and 3 mini bread sticks, homemade vanilla yoghurt (extremely good) and strawberry and apricot jams. There were also two glasses of very fresh and delicious orange juice and coffee or tea. Now this is great for the first day but by day 3 you are craving some variety and a fruit salad or even a selection of fresh fruits to choose from would be welcome. Maybe an egg or two, or some cheese. Sadly it felt a little like the pile em high sell em cheap approach when less but better would have definately been more.
Far worse was the check out process. We were required to vacate our rooms by mid-day, which is fine as they needed to get it ready for another guest. Having packed our cases we asked where we could store them and the somewhat surely woman at reception showed us a place next to the front door. This was in full view and did not exactly feel secure but was the only place she could offer us. Things then got worse when we asked to change from our swimming costume into the clothes we were to travel in. I assumed that we would either be shown to a vacant room or even a toilet or somewhere there was a basin and an ability to freshen up. Sadly not. The same woman who felt it appropriate to leave our bags by the front door showed us to what can only be described as the meter cupboard, where there were fuse boxes, other guests cases and a tiny desk with a computer on it and masses of papers, boxes etc etc. I know Riads are not the biggest of places but when you set yourself up to be the best Riad in town you simply do not treat guests like this. I was so stunned that I was literally speachless.
To top off the checking out experience I was in the process of paying the bill and decided to use cash that I had left over. Reception did not quite have thr right change and asked me if I had a 1 Dirham coin. I looked but could not find it. Given that 1 Dirham is worth less than 10 pence I would have thought they might simply waive it and give me change that was 1 Dirham too much, especially given what I had paid, but no, I had to go through all of my pockets and eventually found the required coin, at which point I was given my change. On leaving I asked this same woman if we could get a cab to take us to the airport. She simply pointed round the corner and asked us to go to the cab rank rather than get a cab for us.
The above is simply not acceptable in a basic 3 star hotel let alone one which likes to consider itself as a 5 star. This one person's behaviour was extremely unfortunate and others were far better (my wife's mobile phone fell out of her handbag on the plane when arriving and the reception girl when we checked in was extremely helpful and called BA and the airport to try and find it but with no luck) but as a final experience of the hotel, it really is about as bad as it gets.
The sad thing is that all of these problems could easily be over come with a little more emphasis placed on staff training and attention to detail. If these small changes could be made you would have a stellar place to stay in Marrakech, but as is I can recommend it but with the above caveats, as present not a 5 star hotel, even by Marrakech standards!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located at the heart of the Hivernage residential district, Dar Rhizlane stand as private charming house for those looking for peace, serenity and more importantly to see without being seen. walking distance from the ancient historical wall of the red city, Jamaa el fan square and the Koutoubia mosque, you can enjoy from both day and night life. Composed of 15 rooms and 5 suites in two different buildings one built in 1999 and one in 1942, separated by a great landscaping full of lemon, orange, palm trees as well as bassins you can relax in a human size pool and enjoy the magic light. For those looking for a culinary experience, you will be charmed by our Executive Chef Zakya who created over 13 years a real moroccan cuisine with a little twist making of your diner a real "carnival", not to mention that we use our own organic products from our own farm. What else! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dar Rhizlane Marrakech
- Dar Rhizlane Hotel Marrakech