Initially I was very skeptical about this place. There was a larger, well known riad I wanted to stay at the recommendation of a friend but was fully booked by the time I contacted them. So I searched the internet high and low and found this riad on Tripadvisor. The reason I was skeptical was because it hardly came up on other travel websites or blogs. I wondered if the rating was real or not if no other place really verifies even the existence of it. I have traveled extensively since I was a very young child, and knew better than to trust just one source in a strange land. But something told me just go with it, and boy what great inner voice I had!
I now know that Marrakech is its own world. Small hotels like this one doesn't have any rating systems to go by (other than Tripadvisor in terms of its reach and publicity) and the number of rooms are so small that it's hard to get feedback on the internet compared to larger places (big accommodations have more people visiting, hence more people are likely to post). But I think people are doing justice to this small but lovely place by shouting out how wonderful it is. I am one of them too.
Riad Le Clos Des Arts, although exquisite by itself, is probably characterized by its owners, Massimo and Georgina, and their ever-so-discreet staff. Their hospitality feels genuine and they go out of their way to make everyone happy. Massimo seems to love people and would come socialize when we are lounging in the courtyard. He is never pushy, and would only advise us on anything when we court it. Georgina has eyes all over the place and will offer mint tea as soon as we show ourselves. The riad is impeccably kept thanks to Georgina's architectural background, and is serious about keeping that way as Georgina asked me to fill in a suggestion card to point out any issues we had during our stay so she could tend to it. The couple are very European cosmopolitan and at the same time acutely aware of local sensibilities. They told me they have lived and traveled in Africa prior to owning this riad and had a good understanding of North African culture. They have done an excellent job of introducing first world trappings (internet, plumbing, sanitary conditions, A/C) without compromising the beauty of Moroccan living.
The staff are either well trained, or just have that hospitable sensibility I also see in Thailand. When we strolled back in after our morning walk, one staff was still cleaning our room. Although I asked her to not mind us, she immediately excused herself and waited out until we were out of our room. Not only did she dismissed herself, anther staff on that floor disappeared (5 rooms on 2nd floor) and went to the first floor to clean things out of sight from us. These sort of subtle maneuvers were seen everywhere and the riad gave us the distinct feeling of friendliness, coziness, privacy and intimacy combined.
The architecture is very romantically Moroccan, from the bed to the bathroom, from the tassels to the ceiling light. We enjoyed returning to our room, which was named "Turquoise", every day. One thing to note is that this is not a large scale hotel where everything is uniform, it's more an intimate guest house where every room has its own character.
Moroccan architecture does not call for much windows facing outside. I am not sure if this is because of the hot sun or because of the Islam way of living but our room faced out to the internal courtyard, which was well lit with natural sunlight. A bird flew in, which is not uncommon I was told, and amused us for a while but I did not see a single dropping anywhere in the riad. Another testament to how attentive the staff are to keep the place pristine.
The doors to rooms do not have keys and are open most of the time, with lace/sheer curtains concealing the interior of rooms. It didn't bother us that there were no keys. We felt as if we were at a friend's house, safe and the people there trustworthy. There was also a safety deposit box for our valuables.
One thing we didn't notice for a while was the lack of TV. We were too busy going about town and too tired when we got back so didn't notice there wasn't one until Massimo mentioned some current news. We brought our iPads with us so we kept up to date with the world through internet. For those with TV addicted children/adults may want to bring iPads loaded with videos.
The food was lovely too. We stayed over Christmas so were treated to a Christmas dinner, which was a Euro-Moroccan fare. We stayed a Friday as well when they serve Cous Cous every week. Everything tasted as though they were made from scratch, and we loved it so much we ate majority of the nights there instead of risking ho-hum food at what may be tourist traps. Having said so, most travelers tend to stay short term so the breakfast menu seemed to be on a 3-4 day rotation.
Location was superb as well, although the Medina is not easy to navigate. Massimo gave us pointers in what to look out for when reaching the riad and since Riad Le Clos Des Arts is close to the major tourist sights such as the palaces and tombs and museums, we probably walked less than most tourist staying in the Medina.
On our last day the bill came and it was exactly as advertised on their website. No hidden costs, not weird "service" or "tax" added on. Everything was transparent and the impression of their honest business carried through to the end.
There are more famous, high caliber, larger riads in Marrakesh, with probably similar ambiance. But what sets this place apart is the hands-on hospitality of the owners, which, I am guessing, does not exist at other places. Hence the high ratings. Marrakesh itself is a very exciting, energetic, maddening place that I would love to return to, and no matter what my friends recommend, I would come back to Riad Le Clos Des Arts in a heartbeat.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In a narrow street of the Medina of Marrakech come and discover Riad le Clos des Arts: a charming Arab house renovated in pure Moresque style. Be seduced by this fascinating oriental atmosphere, be tempted by the authenticity of traditional Moroccan flavours, be refreshed by a plunge into the small pool on the terrace.The riad offers 4 suites and 2 rooms, all with ensuite bathrooms and the possibility to have dinner on order. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Riad Le Clos Des Arts Hotel Marrakech