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“Premium place, but some failures” 3 of 5 stars
Review of El Fenn

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El Fenn
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Derb Moullay Abdullah Ben Hezzian | Bab el Ksour, Medina, Marrakech, Morocco   |  
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Ranked #41 of 461 Hotels in Marrakech
Brussels, Belgium
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Premium place, but some failures”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2013

I stayed for three nights with my family. We booked room 19, which I think is the best and most expensive room in the Riad.

The best part of the Riad is the decoration and all those spaces that make any traveler feel comfortable, relaxed: The cinema room, the reading room, the swimming pools, the terrace, the reception area with the turtles slowly moving around, and certainly room 19. One has the feeling to have been transported to a sumptuous palace, an oasis of peace; which as a nice plus, is child-friendly.

Now to me, a top place that charges top money, should offer flawless service, and unfortunately El Fenn is not quite there. That’s why I don’t rate my experience as “perfect”.

Several things added up:

- The Wifi in room 19 worked for exactly 10 minutes during the first two days and only on the evening of the last day. Certainly, the idea is that one is not hooked the whole day to the outer world (that’s why, I guess, there are no TV sets in the rooms), but one definitely wants to write a couple of emails and check out the news while lying on bed at the end of the day. I couldn’t do it, so I had to go to the reception area or reading room to get internet connection. Of note, after the first night the reception was notified of this inconvenience.

- We wanted to experience the Hammam, a service advertised by the Riad, so we booked it as soon as we arrived. They told us that the service was only going to be available on the last morning of our stay. We booked it for then, only to discover the previous afternoon that the area was still not prepared for the Hammam. And it was already too late to do it somewhere else! –Major letdown!

- Room 19 has an exclusive small pool on the terrace. But it has a problem: Instead of having tiles, the finishing of it is cement. When we arrived, we noticed that one of the inner walls of the pool was peeling off, a process that continued through our stay. This would be just a small aesthetical detail, if it wasn’t that my children and I got some nasty scratches in our elbows and legs every time we accidentally grazed that area.

- To avoid the constant feeling of being on alert, beware of how people would take advantage of you (unfortunately, a sad reality in Marrakech), we booked a day trip through the reception of the Riad. As adviced by the Riad, we were ready at 9:30 on the morning of the trip, just to discover that the driver was only coming at 10:00am (half an hour more of sleep makes a difference!). Then, the worst part is that the driver of the tour took us to a different restaurant instead of the one where we had intended to have lunch (Kasbah de Toubkal). I had to call the Riad to get things straight. In the end we were taken to the right place, but you see the picture: You just can’t be relaxed and enjoy the day, trusting that the Riad had booked a reputable tour.

I reckon all these points might be seen by some as nitty-gritty details, coming from someone picky. I go back to the beginning: This is a premium Riad that is not cheap, hence, I admittedly measure it and all such places with the highest of quality and service standards. And on that measure, El Fenn is average, not exceptional.

Room Tip: Rooms around the reception area got to be noisy. I'd rather choose the ones facing the swimming...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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464 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (101)
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2013

This is one very classy stylish place to stay, right from collection at the airport. It is expensive but I highly recommend it. Firstly the service from all staff was exceptional, really friendly and helpful but not obsequious. Secondly the room (we had a first floor room) was beautiful; big with an open bath and fireplace and it rained one day so we lit the fire and relaxed in the bath. Great bed linen too. Remember that in Riads rooms are often odd shaped so in our case the bathroom and wardrobe space was unusual but stylish. Thirdly the food, breakfast on the roof terrace every morning overlooking the Medinah and up to the snow capped Atlas Mountains is unforgettable, if i am honest the food in the main restaurant wasn't great quality and not good value but that's minor. Fourthly and finally this a beautiful well located Riad with a wonderful sunny roof terrace, a large swimming pool and more importantly where you feel well looked after, almost as if you are part of a unique house party, complete with afternoon tea in the courtyard with pet tortoises wandering about. Highly recommend it!

Room Tip: Ground floor courtyard rooms could be quite noisy.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Machynlleth, United Kingdom
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2013

With only a three day break in Marrakech, my partner and I couldn’t believe how much we relaxed, and it was all thanks to the Riad el Fenn. From the moment of arrival at the airport, everything was supremely easy and well-organised, and an absolute pleasure. It made for the perfect short break.

What particularly makes the place is the staff, who are endlessly helpful and kind; nothing was too much trouble. There wasn’t a single exception. The riad itself is just beautiful; a series of courtyards, open spaces and cosy interiors to fit any mood at any time of the day or night. A particular highlight was the sumptuous breakfasts on the roof terrace, available until midday, with the sound of the muezzin from the nearby Koutoubia mosque floating across the air. That was after waking to flasks of tea and coffee, together with some sweet nibbles, to take in our room. If only real life was like this…

The roof terrace was a great place to spend hot afternoons too, under canvas awnings or wallowing in the plunge pool, idly dozing or reading. I had a great massage, and my partner tried the hammam, both of which were brilliant and invigorating. Otherwise, we found our favourite corners in the courtyards, by the pool or in the very relaxing bar and restaurant (the food was great too).

Our room was magical; everything as you’d want it, including a sunken marble bath and a massive, comfy bed that gave us both some brilliant nights’ sleep. Best of all, we had the riad’s colony of tortoises living by our door, which gave us many lovely moments (and a stack of photos!).

Marrakech is a wonderful place for a few day’s blast of colour, spice and excitement. The riad is right in the heart of the old medina, yet when you come back through the big wooden door, it makes for such a deliciously quiet contrast with the noise and tumult of the souks and alleyways. Rarely have I stayed anywhere that gets everything right, but the Riad el Fenn really did. We’ve been back home a couple of days now, and it all feels a bit like a dream – but one of the loveliest dreams you could ever have. Thanks to all at the riad, for they’re doing a superb job. We will be back.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2013

Going to Marrakech for a weekend (Fri-Sun) I thought would not be long enough to see the city properly and enjoy all is has to offer. Luckily my boyfriend and I were staying in Riad el Fenn. Being picked up in a brand new Land Rover we were driven to the hotel. Walking down a very non-descript alley a small door was opened and we stepped into the oasis of calm that is Riad el Fenn! The set lunches are delicious, and being only a 5 minute walk from the Souk was so convenient (the hotel arranged a great tour guide a very reasonable cost). The hotel is gorgeous inside, it feels like someone's very stylish art-filled house, with so many different places to sit and chat, the main courtyard fountain is filled with fresh flowers every day. One of my favourite aspects was the mint tea and home made cakes and french patisserie delights that are put out in the courtyard every day ... bliss! Our was gorgeous, sapphire blue with a bathtub in the room. Dainty Moroccan glassware holds Moroccan bath goodies for you to use while you are soaking. The staff were charming and very amenable to all our requests. Every morning they put a flask of tea and coffee with a small selection of baklava to keep you going until the delicious breakfast (I highly recommend the porridge with cinnamon and flaked almonds) And I can also thoroughly recommend the 2 person Hammam. We had such a magical weekend, I cannot wait to go back. Without staying here I have no idea how we could have enjoyed Marrakech has to offer over 3 days. I cannot wait to spend 7 days here next time! Worth every penny :)

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Valencia, Spanje
2 reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2013

In the midst of the Marrakech maze of quaint little alleys, a hidden door shields Riad El Fenn from the busy medina. First off, your eyes can feast on amazing contemporary art and displays. Not at all the dreaded 'in your face' kind, but subtle and blending.
Checking in at the front desk (which also serves as a little shop selling lovely and colourful Moroccan bric-à-brac which I instantly expected to be spending my entire holiday budget on) was as quick and easy as it was warm and welcoming and before long I was unpacking my suitcase in lodgings I would be ashamed to refer to as a 'hotel room'.
A private little terrace overlooking the pool area. Inside, old Moroccan mixed with Colonial and 50's European style. Wooden beamed ceilings that undoubtedly reached the floors of heaven, which I think must have been necessary to accomodate the luxuriously high-elevated four-poster bed...king size of course. A mosaic fireplace, a polished copper clawfoot bathtub. And that's just the bedroom!
Wooden church doors lead into the marvellous bathroom, the walk-in closet and the huge shower cabine which doubles as a steam room. Double sinks, separate toilet, vanity table: THE WORKS! And beautiful camel leather floor tiles wall-to-wall. Quelle luxury!

Drinks were served in front of the fireplace in the bar/restaurant and we decided to stay in for dinner. What a great choice that was! The grilled jumbo shrimp and the entrecôte were everything we hoped they would be, the décor was beautiful and the waiters were -without exception- extremely nice and helpful.
The after dinner stroll through the green courtyards of the completely candle-lit Riad was like walking through a fairytale. Never before have I seen such an exquisite display of taste and elegance. Everything ranging from the scented candles, the artwork and the furniture, to the fresh floral arrangements...it all adds to the stunning sense of style Riad El Fenn exudes.

The next morning, after the most amazing night's sleep in quite possibly the best Egyptian cotton sheets money can buy (yes, they are for sale at the aforementioned shop!), the complimentary breakfast was served on the roof terrace overlooking the medina and with an breathtaking view of the Koutoubia mosque and the snow-covered summits of the Atlas mountains. We would not have left our colourful and comfortable lounge beds had we not been running late for a massage, which turned out to be an hour of soothing perfection in the wonderfully quiet in-house spa.

Afternoons are spent with a High Tea (also complimentary) in the cozy library or in the courtyards, in one of which a family of tortoises lazily mingle with the guests.
Then we head back to the roof terrace for a glass of Moroccan 'vin gris', which easily turns into a bottle or two, especially when you watch the glaring red sun set over the ever vibrant medina.

This is the sort of treatment and surroundings that will, quite literally, make you cry when your stay here is over.
But we will be back. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!

Room Tip: As each and every room (in all price ranges) has a wonderfully unique style, there is no way you can...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2013

You know you stayed in a good hotel when on the first night back in your own bed you are dying to go back. Riad El Fenn is in the center of the old town of Marrakech. A small street and a simple door form the entrance of the riad. Behind there paradise awaits.

The hotel consists of several buildings that are connected by courtyards wherein you can sit and relax while enjoying the beautiful surroundings and art work. The moment the sun starts to set you will find burning candles everywhere you look which create a truly romantic atmosphere.

On the roof you will find a terrace that includes a pool and numerous corners that are designed as lounge areas. The perfect place for having breakfast in the morning sun or having wine in the late afternoon soaking up the last rays of sunlight.

One of the highlights of this hotel you will find in your bed. The sheets are made of 600-thread-count Egyptian cotton so a good night sleep is guaranteed! The rooms are beautifully and very tastefully decorated. You wish you could stay in a different room every night, because every single one of them is arranged in its own way. You'll be amazed about the originality of the room design, the choices of the furniture and the grandiosity the whole hotel offers to its guests. Oh, and be prepared to find a fresh pot of coffee and tea every (!) morning on your own terrace. Bliss.

The staff is very friendly and welcoming. They will do anything possible to make your stay the best you've ever had. I can recommend to have at least one dinner at the restaurant in the hotel. The menu is great and the offered wines are very good. Don't forget to try the Moroccan wine which will surprise you!

One thing i missed in the hotel is a gym. But also noting that a tv and telephone are absent in the room, it fits into the concept of this hotel: getting out of your everyday situation and enjoying a wonderful place full of relaxation. Book yourself a massage and a facial once you arrive! Have fun!

Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
london
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2013

This hotel is exactly what you want from staying in Marrakesh!
Beautiful unique rooms, glorious court yards, amazingly positioned- 20mins from airport and right next to the souk, tortoises crawling around, fresh flowers carefully placed in each fountain.

It is a world in the hotel, each corner you could get lost turning in to yet another beautiful court yard.

I could not imagine staying anywhere else!

I would recommend for lunch the daily special. This is fresh Moroccan style vegetables with either fish or meat. You can wait for you surprise meal while sipping mint tea and listening to the call to prayer. You feel like you have travelled back in time and left all you problems far far away.


I read trip advisor a lot and I wish in this case I could give six stars!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Fenn

Address: Derb Moullay Abdullah Ben Hezzian | Bab el Ksour, Medina, Marrakech, Morocco
Phone Number:
Location: Morocco > Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz Region > Marrakech
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#12 Spa Hotel in Marrakech
#17 Luxury Hotel in Marrakech
#18 Business Hotel in Marrakech
#24 Family Hotel in Marrakech
#49 Romantic Hotel in Marrakech
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — El Fenn 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With 20 individually styled rooms and suites, a four-bedroom private riad, 3 swimming pools and its own hammam spa, El Fenn is a unique boutique hotel combining grandeur and historic architecture with hideaway nooks, terraces and gardens - making it the most peaceful place from which to enjoy Africa's most exotic city.Our story began with two friends on the hunt for a small riad to buy as a holiday home. It was 2002 when Vanessa Branson and Howell James walked into the almost ruined courtyard of one of Marrakech's formerly great private homes. Nearing dusk and with the sound of the muezzin's call to prayer echoing in the air, they instantly fell in love with the atmospheric house which was being sold with three smaller neighbouring homes. They soon realised that their holiday home was going to become so much more.At the time, only a handful of Marrakech's riads had been converted to small hotels and Vanessa and Howell knew they wanted to open a place offering something different – a home from home retreat that combined great food and service with the spirit of the building's past and a contemporary decorative twist. During a two-year renovation, local craftsman used traditional techniques to breathe new life into the building. Polished lime plastering was used in a rainbow of colours to create walls, baths and bed frames, original tiling was renovated and carved cedar ceilings restored. Retro furniture sourced from local flea markets was combined with one-off bespoke pieces to create a unique interior. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riad El Fenn Marrakech
Riad El Fenn Hotel Marrakech

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