Prior to getting a series of short, sharp lessons in humility from stallholders in the souks of Marrakech (face it: their silky bargaining skills are built on something you’ll never know: the real cost of a sales item), you’ll need a damn good breakfast. Something to give you strength to plunge into the maze of hot, narrow lanes where sellers are standing shoulder-to-shoulder to relieve you of twice the amount of Dirham you should have paid for pieces of tat. A breakfast like Riad El Fenn’s homemade yoghurt, slim baguettes, runny jams and fresh mint tea.
Under a pale blue sky in a pale red city, and seated on the riad’s rooftop beneath a casually-thatched wooden awning, you can eat well while practicing your appalling French on the charming, professional and supremely patient waitstaff. Scrambled oeufs, merci. Ah, this is the way to start your day in the Medina: a raffish, if slightly scruffy, area of Marrakech.
Now you’re ready. The nearby souks await. You have nothing to lose but your perky innocence. Hours later, with the happy laughter of contented sellers still ringing in your dust-flecked ears, you’ll return to the Riad El Fenn. Pass me that book of travel clichés, s’il vous plait. “Oasis” is the word. Cool, in both senses of the word, the riad manages to combine restrained elegance with impeccable service.
My wife (described to me by several souk sellers as “your Berber wife” for her ability to turn the gentle art of bargaining into a form of street warfare) and I have just spent five days at Riad El Fenn. Blissful days, indeed, in Room 19. Would we go back? Put it this way: to raise the money, we’d even sell some of the almost priceless items we bought in the Medina’s markets. Almost priceless but, for you, I can do a special price, not a “tourist price”. I consider you a friend. To you, I can offer an antique silver-like serving tray hand-etched centuries ago by skilled craftsmen in the fastness of the High Atlas Mountains. For you, 3600 Dirhams. No, do not thank me, you are a friend. Cash only.
-- Greg Flynn, Sydney.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.