“A haven of peace and tranquillity away from the mad hustle and bustle of the medina”
We stayed at Riad Dar One for 6 nights at the end of February/beginning of March 2011 and had a wonderful stay. Unfortunately, our flight was over 3 hours late and we arrived at 1.30 in the morning. Jean Peres, the owner had arranged for us to be met at the airport by a taxi, which we were very grateful for. Due to our delay the poor driver had been waiting for us for hours but did not complain when we eventually arrived. However, the charge for this on our hotel bill was quite high, so I think we had been charged for his troubles. One of the riad’s staff was up waiting to welcome us and to show us to our room. After a bit of a lie-in we got up and had breakfast on their roof terrace served by a girl with the most beautiful and warm smile. My husband still talks about her lovely smile.
We had the Oasis room, which was on the ground floor. I was a bit worried that it may be a bit noisy with people coming and going but, perhaps due to the thick walls, other guests did not disturb us. Or perhaps we were lucky that there were only considerate guests there during our stay. However, with the stone floors, I do think, it you had a guest in the room above in high heels, the noise would carry. Our room was very smartly furnished and very comfy and plenty of room to hang your clothes. There was a huge vase of red roses in the room. It was my husband’s birthday while we were there so I am not sure if it was for him or if they would have been there in any case. In fact, there were huge vases of fresh flowers everywhere plus lots of beautiful candles and subtle, atmospheric lighting around the riad. We had a large bathroom, which had a huge stone bath with a shower. My only complaint was that there was no shower surround and it was difficult to take a shower without getting the surrounding floor a bit wet. There was a long his ‘n’ hers washbasin, lots of huge fluffy towels, bathrobes, candles around the bath and a hairdryer. We had fresh towels every day. Our room also had a nice little open fireplace, which looked like it had been used – perhaps in the depths of winter. Although our room had lots of lighting, most of these gave out soft lighting and I felt the room was a bit dark for reading (or putting on my makeup). Maybe the rooms on the other floors were lighter. However, it is my experiences that riads are often a bit dark as a lot of them only have windows that look out into the inner courtyard. Some evenings when we returned to our room we found that the staff had lit a perfumed oil burner in our room – delightful! The roof terrace was nicely set up with seats and loungers. It also had a large lounging area, which had a huge shade over the top for if you didn’t want to sit in the direct sun. There was also a shower to wash yourself down after sunbathing. You could have breakfast or dinner out here if you wished.
We often took breakfast on the roof terrace. Alternatively, you could eat in the riad’s inner courtyard area on the ground floor.
The riad was beautifully decorated in a typical Moroccan style and I was told that most of the building’s features were original.
The staff were all so very friendly and obliging. Breakfast on the roof terrace mean carrying heavy trays up many flights of stone stairs but they never complained or made you feel guilty. They always had a genuine cheery smile especially Hicham and Abdel. They were attentive at all times. In fact, the warmth of the staff really added to the enjoyment of our stay.
Breakfast comprised of lovely freshly baked Moroccan breads, pastries and pancakes of different kinds with pots of conserve and honey plus English tea or lovely freshly brewed Moroccan coffee. In fact I did not have a cup of bad coffee the whole time in Morocco. Everywhere their coffee was lovely.
The courtyard had a lovely water feature with cascading water flowing into a pool, which had delightful rose heads floating on the surface. The courtyard was open to the skies most of the time but they do pull a cover over it if threatens to rain. There was an elegant lounge to one side of the courtyard, which also had a t.v. and an open fire.
Although they don’t have a restaurant as such at the riad, they will cook you dinner in the evening if you ask them that morning and you decide on your menu with them. We had dinner there on our last evening at the riad and it was wonderful and great value. They make the courtyard romantic and atmospheric with subtle lighting, candles, and the cascading water feature. We had a fish tagine for our main course and the whole meal was delicious. They also serve wine here if you wish.
Other places we ate at were:
Le Fondouk – great experience and lovely décor. Nice food. Staff very attentive but not particularly ‘warm’.
Le Tanjia – great experience, lovely décor, lovely food. Great belly-dancer floorshow.
Kosybar - not very Moroccan – more for tourists but a great place to go for just a drink or for a meal. Nice surroundings and live music most evenings.
Palais Chahramane – good Moroccan food and friendly staff. Very ornate Moroccan decor.
Riad Dar One is in a great location very close to the main sights of the Medina. It is located down a maze of alleyways with a final private alleyway, which is locked and manned in the evenings so you feel very safe.
The owner Jean Peres was often there and he would give you a map of the city and instructions on how to find your way home at the end of the day. He even gives you his mobile phone number in case you get horribly lost. He would also give you suggestions of what to see etc. He also organized a trip out into the Ourika Valley for us with a guide, Houssaine. Our guide was very knowledgeable and very interesting to talk to. For part of the trip he took us for a walk through the lovely countryside, through some interesting hill villages and we had lunch with a real Berber family. Worth doing if you have time!
The weather early March was perfect for sight seeing. Nice and warm with beautiful blue skies and not too hot for walking around. However, the temperatures does get close to freezing at nights so take a jacket for the evenings.
To get to anywhere in Marrakech you have to go down a winding maze of alleyways where you feel no sensible person would wander. But, in Marrakech, that’s where all the interesting places are. At no time did we feel unsafe or vulnerable. Marrakech is not like other cities. We did not see or hear of any petty crime. It’s a safe place to wander around.
While in Marrakech, enjoy the experience of the souks and the main sights, the noise, the chaos, the colours, the smells and the locals trying to sell you things you don’t want. Accept that you will get fleeced at some point during your stay and ‘give in’ to it. It’s a part of what a holiday in Marrakech is all about and you will go home with some tremendous memories.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.