We had read so many positive reviews of Dar Silsila, so we were expecting it to be very good, with wonderful service also.
Not only did the Dar Silsila exceed expectations with regard to the actual riad facilities and our room, but the standard of service offered by Jean Patrick and his staff, was exemplary.
My wife and I stayed for four nights in late January 2008 and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay from the first minute we arrived to the time we left for the airport.
Much has been written in past reviews with regard to the attention to detail Jean Patrick has placed into the interior design of his riad, with the reality proving that to be absolutely correct.
Our suite was very tastefully decorated and the common room areas are absolutely fantastic, featuring dark wood furniture, beautiful lighting and wonderfully vibrant colours.
With regard to the service standards, we had again read the reviews and expected a very high standard of service but again, the service provided, well and truly exceeded expectations.
We had booked a car to collect us from the airport and I would certainly recommend this as the Dar Silsila isn't the easiest place to find for the first time and the driver takes you straight to the door of the riad. After you know where it is though, you will be able to find it easily as it is fairly close to the square and the Koutoubia Mosque.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Zachariah, as Jean Patrick was busy that day. Zachariah immediately sat us down, brought the delicious mint tea and superb biscuits that are always forthcoming and he proceeded to show us some of the highlights of Marrakech on a map...plus, where the riad was situated in relation to the square and Koutoubia Mosque.
Following this, we freshened up and ventured out to check out the sights and sounds of Marrakech with the knowledge that we had booked a tagine for our evening meal at Dar Silsila.
The meal was absolutely superb. In fact, the meal was better than any we tasted during our stay in Marrakech. Not only was this meal absolutely delicious, but the breakfasts provided were also very tasty with fresh croissants, bread, pancakes and yoghurt, not to mention the obligatory and ready-made mint tea!
Jean Patrick was also extremely helpful in his advice: from how much taxis should cost, (essential information for the Marrakech novice!) which restaurants were nice (Jean Patrick also reserved our table at Al Fassia, a very nice restaurant and when we asked about taxis, he actually drove us to the restaurant as it was on his way at the time - a very nice gesture, much appreciated).
Jean Patrick also booked a day trip to the Atlas Mountains as well as ordering AND collecting tickets for our bus journey to the coastal town of Essaouira.
Finally, by way of demonstration for the service standards and going the extra mile (and more!), my wife had been admiring some of the candles in the Dar Silsila and we asked where we could buy these. Jean Patrick, as luck would have it, was heading to the supplier that day and he made the purchase for us, no doubt saving us a considerable amount of money and hassle. Again, very much appreciated.
Sure, Jean Patrick may not be able to do these things each day, but he and his staff are very amiable, wanting to help and open to questions at any time.
So, to Marrakech - a brilliant city, so full of energy, colours, action, sights, sounds, tastes, aromas, textures, etc. Something for all the senses.
Perhaps it's not the town for everyone but I would have thought that if you have a sense of humour and an open mind, this is a wonderful place to absorb a local culture.
We felt completely safe at all times but it would pay to have your wits about you, as it does anywhere in the world.
Haggling is an interesting experience and must be done due to the outrageous prices that are quoted at the outset of any negotiation with a stall holder. As mentioned, keep your sense of humour (it's a game really), start at around a third of the original price, have a price you don't want to exceed and then go for it....it's a laugh.
As for the day trips....the Atlas Mountains are brilliant and we wandered around a Berber Village, plus had the opportunity to enjoy some more mint tea expertly prepared by a local berber man.
Essaouira is approximately 3 hours bus ride each way. We completed the trip inside a day easily enough and had a great time wandering the streets of Essaouira and enjoying the local seafood, plus watching it being brought in.
Overall, my wife and I really enjoyed our stay at Dar Silsila and we found Marrakech to be a great place.
Definitely a city we will return to!