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“Moroccan perfection” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Riad Dollar Des Sables

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Riad Dollar Des Sables
13 Derb Deffa Ourbaa | Laksour Smarinne, Marrakech 40000, Morocco   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #184 of 461 hotels in Marrakech
Southend
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Moroccan perfection”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2012

Our first visit to Morocco and we spent a lot of time researching the ideal accommodation. We wanted a traditional Riad and not a hotel; we wanted it near to the main square; we wanted the decor - including the bedrooms - to be Moroccan and not modern/trendy; we wanted a spa; we wanted to be able to eat in if required; we wanted a cookery lesson; we wanted a trip to the Atlas Mountains; we wanted friendly and helpful staff. It looked from the photographs and reviews that the Riad Dollar des Sables met all these requirements, and in the event it greatly exceeded our expectations. The reason for our visit was a celebration as myself, my daughter and my daughter-in-law all had special birthdays this year, and we all agreed that a spa hotel in Marrakech sounded just the job. I really cannot imagine we could have made a better choice. The Riad was typically Moroccan with an inner courtyard where we sat and relaxed or ate our meals, surrounded by mosaic columns and wonderful Moroccan decor, and the many little extra touches that owner Cathy had added. The bedrooms were all beautifully decorated, again with so many extra touches. The photographs on the web really don't do justice to the beautiful rooms. On top there was a sun terrace and at one side was the spa and hammam. We all treated ourselves to a massage one afternoon and each of us was convinced that our half hour massage had only lasted five minutes, we were so relaxed! We ate in the Riad two out of the three nights. We had intended to eat in just on the night of our arrival when Cathy offered us a meal, as we thought we would be tired after the journey. It was a wonderful start to our visit and a great introduction to Mouna's delicious cooking. And to our amazement we were each presented with a beautiful Moroccan dish as a present to celebrate our birthdays! I had mentioned in an email to Cathy the reason for our trip but what a surprise to find she had been so generous. The following night we had intended to eat out, but some previous clients had returned to the Riad, also for a special celebration, and Mouna was cooking them a special couscous, so Cathy suggested we might like to have the same meal. Having tasted Mouna's cooking the previous night we were only too happy, and our meal was served under the stars on the sun terrace, so the two parties were able to dine separately. The next day we had our cookery lesson, which started by accompanying Mouna to the souk to buy the ingredients, then cooking two tagines (meat for two of us but vegetable for my vegetarian daughter) and a spiced green bean starter. The Riad kitchen, just like the rest of the Riad, is beautifully decorated. Finally of course we ate the products of our lesson - this was lunch as we had decided to go to a restaurant the final evening. Cathy and all her team could not have been more welcoming. Cathy herself accompanied us for the whole of our first morning including a late lunch and then negotiating on our behalf for a caleche for an hour. The Riad was ideally located, right in the souk and only five minute is that from the main square. Cathy showed us round the souk and introduced us to stalls and their owners. making clear the price we should expect to pay for various items. Obviously we were lucky as she was not too busy to do this that morning, but bear in mind that she would not always have the time to do this for clients - we were very lucky. However the night of our arrival Saleh gave us a map and marked on it and explained various points of interest. By the time we went round the souk with Mouna for our cookery lesson we were beginning to find the maze of lanes and stalls not quite so daunting. On our last morning we went round the souk on our own and managed to find all the stalls again, and when we were in the spice market buying our spices to take back home, who should come in but Mouna! Mention has been made by other clients of Fouad, the night watchman, who made us very welcome the night of our arrival, and offered to take us round the souk after we had eaten. But by that time we just wanted to get to our wonderfully decorated bedrooms and go to bed! One thing that struck us throughout our visit to Marrakech, was the easy-going and secure atmosphere there. Even though the souks were exotic and crowded we never felt in any way unsafe as women on our own, and the general attitude to religion, which might have been a concern in a Muslim country, seemed very relaxed. We took up Cathy's offer of being met at the airport - well worth it. We were not only met by Saleh, but bearing in mind that there is no way a taxi can get any nearer to the Riad than the main square, so he then accompanied us through the souk, taking our two cases for us: well worth the money - I cannot imagine we would have found our way on our own. I have made no further mention of a trip to the Atlas Mountains - yes, Cathy will indeed organise one, but we just didn't have time - well, it's a good excuse for a return visit!

Room Tip: All of the three rooms that we had were charming.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2)
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tadley
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 14, 2012

Travelling to Marrakech with a female friend, both over 50yrs was daunting, but i shouldn't have worried. Cathy and her staff were warm, friendly and welcoming. The Riad is a cool, relaxing and comfortable haven from the busy and bustling of the medina
Fouard, the night guard always had a smile and pleasant nature. He would escort us out at night for safety reasons, and escort us back when we got lost.
Mouna, the cook was a talented cook, and gave us a cooking lesson.
The whole experience was amazing and is a must for fun loving and adventurous people.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Halifax, Canada
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2012

My mother and I traveled to Marrakech last year (just getting around to writing this now) and stayed at the Riad Dollar des Sables for the length of our trip. What a wonderful place! Cathy and her staff were attentive and extremely friendly! Nice rooms, a lovely breakfast each morning, and the best location! Cathy had to go to a market on the other side of town one morning, so offered to take myself, my mother, and a few other guests along for a little tour...so thoughtful! One night the pipes kept us awake by making strange noises and the next morning Cathy quickly resolved the problem by moving us to another room (in addition to immediately contacting a handyman to have the pipes fixed). We had a wonderful time and would definitely recommend this riad for anyone planning a trip to Marrakech!

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2012

We booked this place via a friend of ours, who knows the owner and made us a recommendation. While she had told us how nice it was, it definitely exceeded expectations. After making your way to the Riad via the busy, winding streets of the souk you are greeted by what can only be described as a little piece of heaven on earth. The Riad is very clean and beautifully decorated, with traditional Moroccan architecture and detailing which give it a palatial feel. Everything here is about comfort and no manner of thought or expense has been spared to ensure the place provides a top notch experience.

Dollar des Sables is located in the heart of the souk, which gives excellent access to local historic attractions, rooftop bars/cafes and of course the souk itself. This is not to mention that the main square, Djemma el Fna is about five minutes walk south of the Riad (ten on a busy day, and assuming you don't stop to shop!). This is a great place to sit in a cafe terrace and watch the world go by while munching your lunch.

I have to say, however, that the best thing about this Riad is the staff. Cathy has put together a wonderful team who together have truly mastered the art of hospitality and treat the Riad as if it were their own home. The night guard Fouad, in particular, is a natural servant, with a lovely manner and professionalism that you just don't see that often (or ever, I should say!). No request is too much at Dollar des Sables and, more importantly, you don't feel bad for the asking!

Did I mention the food? Mouna the Riad's cook can whip you up a treat for dinner and we decided to eat 3 out of 7 nights based on the quality of the food, which you would be hard pressed to match anywhere in the city, particularly at the asking price (around £12-16 per head, depending if you go for three courses). The food is authentically Moroccan and utterly delicious. You will want to bring Mouna back home with you, but we found she wasn't overly impressed with the idea, more's the pity.

All in all I would have to say this has been the best, most rejuvenating holiday experience of my lifetime and a big part of that is our choice of Riad Dollar des Sables for accommodation. If you are looking for a great place to stay in the heart of Marrakech then do yourself a favour and contact Cathy in advance of your trip.

P.S. A few reviewers have complained about the cost of the taxi/transfer from the airport. Please note that while this may seem expensive the driver must wait for the guests to clear passport control and also rendezvous with the rep from the Riad, who will then guide you through the souk to the Riad. Whilst this may sound simple, it is not always easy to accomplish, particularly where Cathy has not been given accurate flight details for example. In our case she was very careful to contact us in advance my both phone and email to ensure she was able for us to be collected at the right time. This service is important for safety reasons and the cost should be bourne with this in mind.

Room Tip: We only stayed in the Bahia room, which was itself gorgeous, but we also had a sneak peek at the sui...
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rome, Italy
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2011

I choose this riad after reviewing several properties and travellers' reviews and, after staying there, I found it reasonably priced in comparison to others, especially considering its very central location.

The location is very quiet, at the bottom of a narrow alley inside the main souk area - which might seem somehow intimidating at first (at night the market is closed) - but turned out to be safe enough for me to walk back by myself every night.

The staff is friendly and helpful. The manager and her assistants can virtually take care of everything for you during your stay, from airport transfers to meals at the riad and spa treatments. There are many cheaper options for guests willing to do their own arrangements (and I would recommend doing so especially to young travellers, to soak up more of the authentic atmosphere the city has to offer), however, I am sure many travellers will find this type of assistance useful.

The night man Fouad was the most helpful person ever, always smiling, always ready to do whatever he could to help - very professional.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Istanbul
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2011

We chose this Riad after reading other Trip Advisor reviews, After corresponding with the owner, we made our reservation and paid a deposit. Before we did this the owner Cathy said she would send a driver to meet us at the railway station, at no cost to us. After we paid the deposit this service was withdrawn. She then arranged for a driver to meet us for a fee, but on the actual night of our arrival (after flying in from Istanbul to Casablanca , and then a three and a half hour train trip from there to Marrakesh) no driver was waiting to meet us. We had to make our own way to Djema Fna and from there find a phone from which to ring the Riad. Had Cathy not told us we would be met at the railway station, we would not have arrived at night. The manager Saleh met us and took us to the Riad as the owner Cathy, does not live on the premises as is advertised. The next day she did not come and meet us as she told us we could expect, because she was in France.

The Riad is as beautiful as in the pictures, but the rooms are considerably smaller. What you cannot know before you arrive is how out of the way the Riad is, only reached by walking along very narrow and dark alleyways off one of the main souks. One night we were confronted by an aggressive and intimidating young man, clearly under the influence. He tried to block our way to the Riad and it was only by standing our ground that we got back. After about 9pm there are no shops or cafes open in the vicinity, and a single traveller would be right to feel very unsafe.

Apart from the beautiful courtyard setting, it was Fuad, the young night man, who really made our stay wonderful. He was genuinely friendly and helpful, nothing was too much trouble for him, whether running up and down the three flights of stairs to get more soap, or preparing an extra early breakfast, he was always smiling and welcoming. When we reported the incident with the frightening young man he immediately raced outside and found the area guardian, and assured us this problem would not happen again. Given we were the only guests it felt like we were staying in a private home, and the experience was made all the better by Fuad's positive attitude. We hope his boss realises what an asset he is.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2011

We were initially a bit worried about faxing our credit card details, but don't worry, Cathy will quickly send you a receipt.

The owner Cathy and her staff are attentive and charming and went out of their way to make our stay pleasant. Sala , one of the staff, met us from our taxi and, relieving us of our cases, escorted us through Place Jmaa el F'na through the meandering souk to the Riad. Don't think we would have found it so easily otherwise.
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Decor traditional Moroccan style and beautiful, particularly the en suite which had a copper hand basin. Very calm (the rose petals strewn around on the floors were a nice touch) and a welcome refuge from the hyperactivity and intensity of the souks.
The cookery lesson from Mouna was a highlight - we accompanied her to make the necessary purchases in the medina, very interesting, and she helped us prepare chicken Tagine from scratch (chopping onions the Moroccan way - not to be missed!) with preserved lemons and olives.
She brought it up to the rooftop terrace of the riad where we enjoyed it in the sun. The rooftop also houses the Hammam and massage room where we enjoyed a luxurious holiday treat of steam room (hammam), body scrub with local organic black soap and massage.
Breakfast was simple and perfectly adequate - crepes, bread, fresh fruit, yoghourt etc with juices and hot drinks.

If we were to make a suggestion to Cathy the owner, the light in our room (Salma) was not quite good enough for reading, and we like to read when on holiday!

The stairs look quite narrow and steep in the photos, but don't worry, there are hand rails to help you.

We thoroughly enjoyed our 4 nights in Marrakesh -, a much healthier holiday than usual largely because alcohol is not widely available in the medina. It can however,be purchased from supermarkets in the new town (a short taxi ride away), and you can drink it in the riad.

As mother and daughter travelling together we were pleasantly surprised at how safe we felt, even walking through the town at night, although vendors and beggars can be insistant.
Dollar des Sables was both a haven from and provided easy access to the heart of the city. Thanks to everyone at Dollar des Sables - we would recommend this Riad to anyone visiting Marrakech.

  • Stayed March 2011
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Riad Dollar Des Sables

Address: 13 Derb Deffa Ourbaa | Laksour Smarinne, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Location: Morocco > Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz Region > Marrakech
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #184 of 461 hotels in Marrakech
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Riad Dollar des Sables is a nice traditional guest house of 6 rooms ( 3 doubles, 2 twins and a very romantic Suite for two and can be transformed into a triple with an extra charge ). The ideal location inside the Medina allows you to explore the city easily. The Riad is located at the entrance of the main Souk,called "Smarinnne" and the famous Square "Jema el Fna" only at a 2 minutes walk. Upon arrival, we recommend you to book our airport pick up, especially by night , to avoid the fake guides; we can also meet you at the Square , or pick you up at the airport, for an extra charge (220 Dhirams :2 guests or 150 Dhirams for 1 guest) so don't hesitate to contact me , giving me your flight details so that I can arrange this service with my private driver.Our driver will drop you at jema el fna Square within 10 minutes, and we will be there to meet you. As soon as you get inside the House , you will be touched by the enchanting atmosphere of Riad Dollar des Sables. The whole staff is welcoming you with a smile, and a special attention : coloured candles, fresh roses petals at your feet, delicate flavor in the air and oriental music..just to make you feel in the mood and comfortable.Passing through the corridor, you will discover the peaceful courtyard and its fountain made of traditional mosaics.On its terrace, Riad Dollar des Sables offers a relaxing and traditional Hammam ( run with wood) and massages for a very good price;First, you will be invited to share with me (Cathy) a sweet refreshing mint tea and moroccan pastries.As I'm living all year long in Marrakesh since 2006, I know quite well the city and shall be happy to share with you my experience , giving you all the useful information and good adresses to enjoy your stay .We shall give you a map to sign the main monuments to visit or restaurants around. We can also provide moroccan meals at the Riad and cooking class with my cook Mouna; ... more   less 
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