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“Special Oasis” 5 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 #39 of 462 Hotels in Marrakech
Hong Kong, China
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Special Oasis”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 29, 2010

This riad is so special I am writing a quick review (something I rarely do considering I travel very extensively) while I am still staying in the riad!!
This place is beautiful as paradise, in a very romantic, intimate and cozy way. I have visited some other riads and they are either very basic, or a bit pretentious. Riad el Fenn is a very elegant place, each room with a very unique style to it. I'm sure all females would just love this riad, as all the little details make them feel so special.
I also love that this riad has plenty of quiet corners where you can chill/ have meals/ drink tea/ read a book quietly on a beautiful couch. There's also so much colors here, that you can easily fill a photo album with just pictures of each corner of this riad!
Some travelers commented on the service level -
While I understand that some travelers may be used to a lot more attention from small riads' owners, this riad is a bit bigger than that, so I wouldn't really expect the owners to be at my service. However, the staff here are all extremely nice and helpful. Whenever I pressed the service button in the room (there is no phone), a staff always arrived in less than 2 minutes. The staff are all very sensitive to your needs... Like yesterday and today when I suddenly requested for dinner but not the set menu, the chef came to my door to check what I wanted to have so he could cook something simple yet special for me. Or yesterday when I felt like eating outside my room, but not in the dining area, yet I wanted to be warm - they found me a spot in the riad where there was a table and a fireplace to keep me warm. I find the staff here extremely sweet.

This place is simply amazing - to the extent if I ever get married, I would want to have a small wedding party and honeymoon here. It is expensive, but if it makes you feel so special, it's all worth it.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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492 reviews from our community

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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
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London
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2010

My mother, father and I just returned from Riad el Fenn and it was an overall great experience. Our rooms (4 and 5) were both beautiful and spacious. Each room in the hotel is different and all looked very nice. The public areas of the hotel are also very nice, especially the roof terrace. As others have said, the public areas could use a little more maintenance and upkeep, but having said that, the retro look goes with the design of the hotel. The food was also nice, and the coffee and tea outside your room every morning was a very nice touch.

On the more negative side, the service was lacking. The service is not bad, but when you pay these kind of prices you expect excellent service and Riad el Fenn does not offer this. The service was not personal, the was no presence of the management whatsoever, and the service was generally slow and sometimes difficult to come by. The location is excellent and all in all I would definitely recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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london
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 2010

beautiful hotel with sumptuous huge rooms. The roof top terrace was amazing spent much of our time lounging on the sofas taking our time eating the amazing breakfast served whenever you get up- literally- even if you dont manage to rise till the afternoon!

the little cinema room with DVD collection was lovely, the decor was amazing every little touch was carefully designed.

i actually wasnt that impressed with marrakech but when you stay somewhere like this you wont want to leave anyway.

only minor complaint would be that one of the pools was supposed to be heated in the winter as they were freezing but despite numerous requests the pool was sadly too cold to swim in. although i guess most of the time in marrakech its so hot you dont need to heat them.

would definitley reccommend anyone to stay there.

also got to mention the hotel driver who picked us up from the airport- brown suit, leather shoes, black shades and driving a car with gold interior- he was like something from a italian designer advert- amazing!

Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
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United Kingdom
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 14, 2009

I recently came back from my 11th trip to Morocco. The country is just so beautiful. I have stayed in my fair share of Riads, but I have never seen anything like this. Though expensive, it is worth every penny. The place is huge (I believe 7 riads put together), with three swimming pools, lush garden flowers, beautiful art and a impressive bar with wonderful lights dangling from the sealing and a beautifully lit performance stage which I haven't seen anywhere.

The staff is lovely and the food is wonderful. Many restaurants look good in Marrakech, but far too often is the food average or bad. But not at Riad El Fenn. The roof has an amazing view of the Koutoubia mosque and you can even play minigolf on a grassy bit of the rooftop. It is apparently owned by Sir Richard Branson's sister Vanessa Branson, as a wall full of letters to her from a variety of clients decorate a courtyard wall.

Only complaint I have was that management was hard to find and not always as friendly. But that shouldn't deter you from coming to this place. All the rooms are different and are jaw dropping. I have never seen anything like this and I will certainly be coming back and recommending it to all my friends!

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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elvismoonlander
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2009

We spent a weekend in Marrakech at the Riad El Fenn with a group of friends for my 40th birthday. We could not recommend it enough... such an unusual and different place, but at the same time offering unbelievable levels of comfort, service, warmth and flexibility for guests.

From the outside it looks like a large door in an alleyway as is typical of the architecture in the medina area. Inside it is an oasis of colour, unusual design touches, water features, palm groves, peaceful courtyards and little secret nooks.

It seem to be a very personal expression of the owners desire to create a space that goes beyond being a hotel. Every room is different, with eclectic designs, quirky furniture, lovely comfortable clean beds and lots of piping hot water. In the morning they leave a flask of Morrocan tea and coffee outside your room with delicious local biscuits. The breakfasts on the roof are very special with local, french and western food in plentiful supply. The swimming pools on the roof and in the courtyards are refreshing cold, but the weather is so hot it's the ideal way to cool off. And there are lots of design, architecture and Morrocan history books placed around the place encouraging people to sit and just dwell in each little courtyard, comfy sofa or hammock.

It's a very very special place that so good it should almost be kept a secret!

The staff were very helpful and offered to organise trips to restaurants and the medina. We however used a company called Boutique Souk who were separate from the hotel and who did an amazing job getting us the best tables in the nicest restaurants.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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London
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
75 hotel reviews
Reviews in 63 cities Reviews in 63 cities
342 helpful votes 342 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2009

It's hard to know if there's a better riad in the Medina than the Riad El Fenn, but for certain many boutique hotels - and even 5 star rated hotels - could learn from it.

After being let down by far too many fancy 5 deluxe star resorts I've gone back to basics and I feel very glad I've done so.

We were collected by an El Fenn driver and were at the riad in about 20 minutes. And without any fuss were taken straight to our suite - no messing about filling out forms and asking for passport details. I've never figured out why with the overwhelming majority of hotels you make a booking - give them every detail about yourself bar a DNA sample - have forwarded credit card details and passport information. And then you arrive at these places you have to repeat it all all over again. Not exactly what you want to do after a long day of travelling. Anyway, none of that nonsense at the El Fenn. And although I think the kitchens were closed for the night (it was around 11pm) the staff gladly
made us some fantastic hot club sandwiches - perfect!

On entering the riad I loved the huge Bridget Riley painting - and the rows of Moroccan slippers with a pair of Converse in the middle of them was a witty statement.

The suite we booked (21) was perfect - huge - excellent WiFi - great selection of books to browse - and most importantly for me a decent firm bed. Such a relief to sleep well every night in a strange bed. There is no TV or DVD, something I usually require. However, I didn't miss them in the least. However, there is a cinema room with a well stocked DVD library - and we caught up on our own.

The riad itself is well positioned. I know many people stay at riads where they are woken at 5am by prayer coming from the mosques. We were not disturbed at all.

The El Fenn offers a particular service which I think excellent, especially if you're a couple who wake up at different times. At 7.30 a tray is placed outside your room with a flask of tea and coffee and a few pastries. For the early riser this is a wonderful touch. In 30 years of travelling all over the world I've never experienced such a wonderful thoughtful idea.

Breakfast up on the roof terrace is very nice. A wonderful bowl of home made porridge, fresh bread which can be toasted, fruit, homemade yogurt. What was disappointing is that each day afterwards the porridge became more and more lukewarm and less items seemed to be on offer unless asked for - it was almost as if the staff became more complacent each day they saw you. However, I do want to make it clear there are some lovely staff always with a smile.

Talking of food - the El Fenn serves excellent evening meals on the terrace, but sadly far too many of the dishes arrive lukewarm which really is a waste of the chefs talents after such effort has been put into creating wonderful dishes. And as the El Fenn serves better food than many of the restaurants in the Medina they really should address this. I had presumed dishes were going cold on the journey from kitchen to roof terrace. However, one rainy evening we ate at the indoor dining room and still the dishes were let down by being luke warm. Such a shame. I should also state there were never more than 3 couples dining on the 5 days we were there, so the kitchens aren't under pressure cooking for large parties.

While we were staying very few people were there, and never once did I share one of the 2 swimming pools or roof top plunge pool. I presume other guests were out sightseeing, and it appeared most people only stayed a night or two. But I think the El Fenn is worthy of a weeks stay to just relax at and enjoy it's tranquility, and if you do want to venture out you can walk to the souks in 5 minutes.

Full marks must also go to the free afternoon tea that's laid on - nice fresh cakes and pastries, mint tea, or tea of your choice. Perfect. And while you partake you can enjoy watching the tortoises wandering around.

I also took the liberty of looking into many of the empty bedrooms and suites as I was interested to see how they were decorated due to being into interior design, and all of them were highly desirable. Another bonus is that this riad is unusually large - I believe it's two riads joined together - so there's plenty of nooks to hide away and read a book and be at peace. I think this would also be a wonderful riad for the lone traveller who literally wants to be alone.

Although I wouldn't hesitate to stay at the El Fenn again I probably wont just because I would like to experience more riads in Marrakech. However, I highly recommend
it - and I thank them for making me realise I've wasted far too much money staying at Four Seasons and One & Only resorts, etc. Obviously small equals best - and the El Fenn made me fall in love with Marrakech.

I would give the El Fenn 5 stars - I'm only deducting 1 because I thought it such a shame that so many of the excellent meals were let down by being luke warm. However, the food was far better than any we had at any restaurant.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
boston,ma
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2009

I've been meaning to write a review for the Riad el Fenn for a while now. There was only one other guest staying there while I was there which made my time there even more private and secluded.... just what I was looking for. The staff always seemed to appear when I needed them, yet always seemed to keep a respectable distance to give me the down-time I was looking for to relax, enjoy my wine and read my book!! Every morning I would wake up and open my bedroom doors to Moroccan Mint tea, cookies and pastries. I could step right outside of the riad and the Medina was within a few minutes walking distance. As far as I am concerned, as a woman, I felt 100% safe walking alone. Everyone was always very kind and friendly. I did hire a guide the first day there who showed me around through the Medina and other areas of interest. The Riad el Fenn made sure they accomodated me in every way. They toured me through all the rooms since they were mostly empty the week that I visited. Everything was beautiful. And, they will cook almost anything that you want. I am dying to go back!!!! The most relaxing, tranquil vacation I have EVER been on!! I would highly recommend the Riad el Fenn to anyone!

  • Stayed August 2008, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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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 ( WiFi ) 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:
#11 Spa Hotel in Marrakech
#12 Business Hotel in Marrakech
#15 Luxury Hotel in Marrakech
#26 Family Hotel in Marrakech
#44 Romantic Hotel in Marrakech
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — El Fenn 4*
Number of rooms: 20
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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