“Excellent riad. Even better if you speak a little French.”
Eight of us recently spent four nights for my 40th birthday at the Riad. I read all the reviews here, both good and bad, before deciding to go ahead and book. It turned out to be a great choice.
My wife won't do anywhere remotely dirty so believe me when I say the riad is stylish, ideally-located, spacious, very clean and well run by Jamilla and the gang. I believe the negative reviews seem to stem from the time before Pepe owned the place as there were no real hassles at all - although we were renting every room, so if you were sharing the riad with strangers then perhaps your mileage may vary.
The airport transfer was there on time (look for the riad name rather than your surname) and once we had grown accustomed to the frankly insane driving (thankfully at low speeds due to traffic) it became apparent that the taxi staff, local shops and the riad all have a good working relationship.
Although Jamilla and the staff speak a little English, French is better so dust off your schoolbook. My French must sound like pidgin 'Allo 'Allo but I was able to make myself understood better in this tongue. Obviously Arabic is widely spoken but was not an "O" level option for me in 1983, at least not in Widnes.
The riad seem to use the same taxi guys all the time, which is good as you would need someone with local knowledge or a pigeon-like sense of direction to guide you down the 2-3 minute maze-like walk from the taxi to the front door for the first time. The tall medina streets are too narrow for cars so bicycles and mopeds are very popular - watch out.
The surrounding cat-filled streets are dark and narrow but not intimidating (I live in Nottingham!) and the local kids are friendly enough to banter with. The nondescript door opens and you are treated to the splendid interior views which the website shows. The riad is very photogenic and there are plenty of things to photograph.
Once unpacked, we spent the trip just chilling out at the riad in the morning, strolling the markets for lunch, then either eating at the riad or taking a trip out to a restaurant in the evening. Crystal @ Pacha was nice (Jamilla booked this same day at our request), but don't book before 8:30 and try and sit away from the central fire - it's hot and smoky at the nearest tables. The club itself was closed that night, despite it saying "Open daily" on the website. You may wish to confirm.
We stayed in the Douiria suite. The bed was very comfortable and there is plenty of storage. The bathroom in this suite is dark marble and plaster, and there is not a lot of light, so you may want to move a lamp into there.
One of the rustic sinks has a patched hole in it that sometimes leaked a little - but only a few thimbles-full or so. There was always hot water available. The specks of powder here and there are probably caused by woodworm in the wooden ceilings - par for the course in this type of building.
The mosque does a call to prayer around 4AM. I only heard it the first time, as I am a sound sleeper, but you may want to bring ear-plugs as the prayer MC also seems to be accompanied simultaneously by a revving scooter engine and a braying camel.
Breakfast seems to be available at any time in the morning. Staff are there from around 7AM but I don't recall us being up for anything before 10. Breakfast is continental - coffee, crepes (freshly made in the kitchen), bread, english tea, jam, cake and juice. Bring your sweet tooth to Morocco.
We then went upstairs to the terrace where you can bask in the African sunshine - not incandescent at this time of year but still very warming. The terrace is well appointed with day beds and tables and the staff are happy to fetch you snacks (olives and nuts), wine, beer or water - not free of course; the Rose was 14 euros and beers 3 euros - which is quite a markup. Better to buy it locally if you find it (we didn't actively seek it).
Jamilla and the gang do great meals in the evening, Moroccan style. Very tasty but perhaps a little pricey considering drink is not included. We eat there twice. The dining room also has an ipod dock which came in handy. The other lounge has a large flat screen tv with satellite box. We didn't watch much tv to be honest. The riad also has wireless internet and you can settle by credit card there.
The local markets are 2 mins away back towards the taxis, and the main square is -15 mins beyond these, depending on how fast you want to walk. I didn't find the stallholders overly aggressive. We weren't there to buy things, so it was easy for us to walk away.
Jamilla also organised an impromptu trip to the mountains for a couple of our guests with their own driver for the day. She is very good at organising and can get you most things should you require. Jamilla clocks off after dinner is served, and then Hisham, the riad's handyman, is also on hand until you go to bed to help you with anything. Again, French was the most effective route.
If I had one criticism, I would like the riad to show you a price list for the wine, beer and snacks before you tuck in as the prices came as a surprise to some. Also make sure that the room tax (8 EUR per room per night) has been included if you didn't book direct with the riad - it was a little difficult ironing out all these points in French when Jamilla wanted to go home and we all wanted to eat.
The airport taxis were bang on time for our early start home (they haven't managed this trick in the UK) and a good time was had by all.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.