We spent 5 days (4 nights) in Marrakech over Christmas 2006. If you have not yet been to Marrakech, you might not understand how vital it is to have a place of calm serenity. It is one crazy city. The level of activity and freneticism (particularly in and around the main square Djemma al Fnaa and the Souk) just has to be seen to be believed.
Riad al Mamoune provided just what we needed. The Riad is less than 5 minutes walk, through the souk, from the square. Although donkey carts, hand carts, bicycles and small motorcycles don't respect the idea of a "pedestrian area" in Marrakech, it's certainly not possible to get to the Riad by car.
If you stay 3 nights or more, transport from (and back to) the airport is included. We had no problem hooking-up with the taxi driver who was there to meet our flight. He parked the taxi in the main taxi rank in the Medina and it was a 10-minute walk, through the square and the souk to the Riad. That, by itself, gave a good introduction to how things are in that part of Marrakech. (In our limited experience of souk-driven cities, I would rate this one as "Istanbul on Steroids").
From the moment we arrived we were made to feel welcome. All over Marrakech you can get mint tea and the BEST freshly squeezed orange juice. We were given refreshments and shown to our room.
We were staying in the Tan Tan room which is decorated in an African style. The room was neat and clean. There was limited wardrobe space, but apart from that, it was just what we needed. The bathroom was lovely, with a decent shower (there's nothing worse than trying to wash under a trickle).
The public spaces of the Riad were great. There is a central courtyard which is beautifully tiled and has a small pool (decorative, not swimming). The Riad has a jacuzzi. I wish I had known that before we went and we would have brought swimming costumes so we could have used it - I guess I didn't read the web site in enough detail. The roof of the Riad is a terrace, with chaises longues, seats and tables. It was just fantastic to sit there in December soaking up sunshine. It wasn't sun-bathing weather (not at that time of year) but the main reason for choosing Marrakech was to break the gloom of a British winter with a dose of sunshine - and we certainly achieved that.
The best thing about the Riad was the staff. They were fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble (including my need to drink British-style tea with a dash of COLD milk at breakfast). Rachid looked after us really well. He even told us where to get something we wanted to buy and what price to pay. When we came back and said we couldn't get the price he had suggested, he went out himself and got the thing for us. Now that's service. The three ladies who looked after the kitchen and cleaned the place were also lovely.
The second best thing about the Riad was its location. It's down a few (signposted) turnings from the spice street in the souk. Although these are narrow alleyways, we never felt unsafe even at night. The locals appeared universally friendly. Of course, in the souk, you get the usual "in your face" salesmanship - but that's only to be expected.
As for the city, you have to see it to believe it. It's not full of monumental architecture or anything like that. It's just full of people and most of them seem to congregate in the souk and the square. For someone used to European urban life, there is an air of chaos which is constantly stimulating.
Marrakech is a great city to visit and Riad al Mamoune is a great place to stay if you choose to do so.
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