I booked Riad Charai from the views expressed on Trip Advisor, and it exceeded every expectation! A little about my partner and I (I find this helps)... We are in our late 20's, We love adventure and getting to grips with the country/city, culture and locals, but want to do it in style and expect quality/ cleanliness.
I fell in love with this Riad. It is located within the maze of the old city, North of the Medina (heart of Marrakech) near the city walls. It will take you 20mins to walk to Jemma el Fna (the main square), but there are plenty of markets and attractions such as the Museum of Marrakesh, and the tanning district close by.
Upon arrival ask your taxi to get you a guide to walk you to the door- you will not find it!!! Expect to tip the guide, but learn the route (5mins walk) so that you dont have to pay and that you fit in, this is not such a tourist hot spot. It can seem intimidating at first, but dont be fooled, the locals are friendly, and it gives a true representation of life in Marrakech, I would not have stayed anywhere else.
Step inside and the hussle and bustle is silenced by the thick stone carved walls and whisper of the luit (traditional music). Once you've made your way to the opening at the centre of the Riad, you are met by exceptional staff (who dont expect to be tipped), the smell of orange and jasmin trees and a pot of mint tea and Backlava (middle eastern treats). The pool is a good size, and it was lovely to sit here at breakfast, and enjoy fresh fruit with yoghurt, Moroccan pancakes/bread, and fresh orange juice.
The Riad mimics the streets in its maze-like layout, our room was on the first floor up a curved marble stairway, we didnt have a view out onto the courtyard but it didnt matter! The sheets were fresh and white, lots of storage, great clean en-suit and lots of Moroccan-style features. Perfect for a city stay.
Venture to the top of the building and on your way you'l find a traditional Hammam and massage suite for very reasonable prices, we indulged ourselves and it was lovely, great after a day of exploration.
Reach the top and the views are amazing- I dont understand when people remark that Marrakech has no skyline, yes, all the buildings are the same hight apart form the minaret's that break the terracotta horizon, but for us, it was a change, and a beautiful one at that! The Atlas mountains are clear and surround you. Every evening we came up here, lay on the beds to watch the sun set and the city come alive to the sound of the Mosques call to Prayer.
The food was also amazing, it's a small but perfect menu. The tagine's are all freshly cooked with fresh ingredients and you have a choice of where to dine; Rooftop/ indoor dinning area/ poolside. Cookery lessons are also available, but we didnt have time to try.
Riad Charai is no doubt beautiful, its architecture and traditional freatures blend seemlesly with home comforts, but the reason why we felt like the Sultan and Princess of this dwelling is due to the staff! They are a small team who work well together with great communication between the night and day staff, we were always made to feel safe and at ease. Some speak good English, but French is extremely useful (this is the same throughout the city) as they all spoke it. They hire a very helpful lady (Miriem) who is fluent in English, to sort out your dates of travel, transferes etc. She visits often and can arrange excursions, we felt much safer doing it through her. The staff remember the little things ie where you like to eat, if you prefer tea or coffee, and nothing is too much to ask... Our night porter gave us a tour of the riad even though we arrived very late, recommended and walked us to restaurants and even bought me a tagine on his way to work so that I wouldn't get ripped off as a tourist! One evening when we needed a cash point, he called his friend to come and pick my boyfriend up on his scooter and drive him to the nearest one.
Riad Charai is full of character, if like us you want to live amongst the locals but love the luxury of five-star treatment this is the place to stay.
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