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.
- 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