My wife and I stayed at the Riad Ilayka for 3 nights in mid January. We were both a little worried about the timing of our trip at this time of the year. As it turned out our worries were unfounded as the weather in Marrakesh was superb - sunny but not overbearingly hot - and the centre of Marrakesh was bustling but not overwhelmed by crowds of tourists. Due to bad weather at Gatwick our flight was delayed and we did not arrive until late in the evening. It was then that our fantastic Riad Ilayka experience kicked in. We were met at or taxi drop-off point by Hassan and Abdou who are ever present to offer help. They carried our bags as we negotiated the narrow alleyways of the medina and souks to the door of our Riad. Totally impossible to find with a map and very reassuring to have our guides show us the way. As we entered the large wooden door of the Riad we were warmly greeted by the proprietor Nadia and offered our first of many tastings of delicious Moroccan tea. Our bags were taken to our room while we settled down in the peaceful courtyard dining area for a delicious late evening meal of traditional Moroccan food including a delicious chicken tagine and a bottle of wine. The food in the Riad is possibly the best you would find anywhere in this exhilarating small city and it is one of the few places in the Medina where it is possible to get an alcoholic drink.
We were shown to our beautiful room, one of eight individually decorated in traditional Moroccan style giving an overall appearance of a palace straight out of 1001 Arabian Nights! After an excellent night’s sleep it was down to breakfast cooked by Halima and Bouchra whose smiles radiated around the Riad. We spent our first day strolling around the Souks and square sidestepping the snake charmers, storytellers, gymnasts and many others that night and day gravitate towards this world famous square and once again Hassan and Abdou were on hand to familiarise us with the locality where it is so easy to get lost.
Our second day was in total contrast to the first. We were taken by our guide Azziz into the Atlas mountains by our own 4x4 Camel for the highlight of our trip (firstname.lastname@example.org) We delighted in the fantastic scenery, visited a Berber market, a women’s co-operative where Argon oil is produced by hand and had lunch with a Berber family in a remote mountain village. An unforgettable experience and a must for any visitor to Marrakesh.
All of the staff at the Riad Ilayka are super friendly and no request is too great, including asking for an open log fire to be lit in our room – surely something that would not be allowed in any Western hotel but entirely safe and cosy in our Arabian Palace! On the rare occasion when one of our questions could not be answered by Nadia a phone call was made to the Riad manager Moutaa who was on holiday in Paris and we were able to discuss our needs with her across the continents. Such service and attention to detail is in my experience unequalled. Thank you to everyone for making our stay so perfect.