My sister and i recently spent a week at this riad and had a fantastic time in Marrakech. Before going we had so many worries and apprehensions about morocco and staying at a riad, and now that i have been i want to share a detailed and honest account so that someone who is maybe equally apprehensive can read this and have all their questions answered!
Before booking we had debated to some extent about whether to stay in a riad or in a bigger more commercial hotel in the newer part of Marrakech outside the city walls. I am so happy we decided to opt for the riad. Staying in the Medina means you are living in the very heart of Marrakech and are truly experiencing the place and its culture first hand. Another time i might be open to an all inclusive establishment, we did crave a pool, but for an all-round-first-time-moroccan experience i would definately recommend a riad. This riad is in a pretty great location, a stones throw from all the souks and a ten minute walk to the main square, Jamaa El Fna, where we found ourselves most evenings. Before going we were a bit apprehensive about finding our way back to the riad every night, having heard some horror stories about getting lost and being harrassed in Marrakech, and were worried about having to navigate small dark alleyways back to the riad late at night, we even brought a small torch in preparation. As it turned out after a day we had found our bearings and found our way to and from the riad everyday without problem, and the little street the riad is on, even though it could be described as alleyway-ish was still well lit and other tourists and locals were often around so we never felt unsafe. We did proceed to get exceedingly lost in other parts of the medina, but this is another story and is all part of the fun of exploring Marrakech! We organised in advance an airport transfer to take us to our riad on the first night. Which i would thoroughly recommend, it took so much unnessecary stress out of arriving. We spent an hour going through passport control and became concerned our taxi wouldnt wait but when we got through to arrivals our driver was waiting patiently with my name and riad on a sign. It was a simple 15 minute drive from the airport and was such a comfort we would be arriving safetly and promptly. He drove us as close to the riad as he could and then carried our suitcase and took us the remaining 5 minutes by foot. This is because at night the streets are filled with locals and stalls and shop sellers and dont allow space for a taxi. We took a transfer back to the airport too, again straightforward and hassle free.
Its not an uber luxurious or modern riad, but it had a pretty charm about it and was well presented and felt clean. At night the courtyard in the middle was often lit with candles or lanterns and really did look lovely. It has a couple of nice lounge/social areas as well as a little rooftop terrace. I was expecting a tiny bit more of a view out onto the city from the terrace, you cant see out at all really, but again it was pretty and well presented. The bedrooms are quite small, we only took one suitcase and i think having two in their would have compromised our space a lot, but they do the job perfectly well and most importantly they had air con which i don't think we could have survived without. Shower/bathroom again pretty small but clean and fine for what we needed. We never locked our door and didn't feel unsafe leaving it open or leaving our belongings in there during the day, there didn't seem to be a safe in our room but i imagine there is probably one to use in the riad if you request it. Our beds were made and our rooms tidied a little every day for us which was always nice to come back to!
The breakfast is overall a sugary feast. I have a sweet tooth and am vegetarian so was perfect for me but if you're used to beans on toast or a bacon sandwich you might be in for a bit of a sugar coma surprise. It generally consisted of moroccan pastries, cake, bread, jam, honey, fruit, yoghurt, tea and coffee. You eat your breakfast up on the rooftop terrace which really was a lovely relaxing way to start the day and we really did relish sitting up there planning our day over pastries every morning. It's up to you when you have breakfast, we ended up making it to the terrace for 9am every morning, although one day we had an excursion booked and our breakfast was prepared for us at 7am! It is all beautifully presented and is plentiful enough to keep you going until lunch. We only had dinner once at the riad, we had arranged it for the night we arrived, as we were getting there late. It was delicious, bread, dips, tagines, noodles, ice cream, mint tea, but we were quite tired and hot by this point so maybe didn't savour it as much as we should have. Radia, the cook, has a little book at the riad with photos of all the dishes she can prepare, after a flick through and in retrospect there were some delicious items i would have liked to try but obviously we weren't aware of this when organising our meal in advance for our arrival.
Elisabeth who runs the riad is very friendly, welcoming and speaks very good english. She greeted us on our first morning, talked us through a map of the area, recommended places to go and things to see and generally put us at ease on our first day in a strange place. She made the effort to chat to us every morning after that to offer any advice and check everything was ok. She even booked an excursion for us, a day trip to Essaouira, as it turned out we were a tiny bit disappointed with the arrival and departure times of the trip, we got a lot less time there as advertised by the poster, but this doesn't really fall under Elisabeth's responsibility. Radia speaks no english, but was very pleasant and helpful towards us and as already mentioned the breakfast and food was of a high standard. You could obtain bottles of water any time from the riad and one afternoon we had mint tea in one of the lounge areas, probably the best we tasted in Marrakech.
I would recommend this riad whole heartedly. And wouldn't hesitate to stay here again. Although it's in the heart of the bustling medina, once inside it is unbelievably calm and quiet and a perfect retreat after a busy day sight seeing. The interior is pretty and Moroccan, staff helpful, food tasty and air con all for such an excellent price! One bit of advice i would give, as already said it is in the heart of the medina and the streets get busy at night, on the saturday evening we made our way to the main square but the streets were EXTREMELY busy, like rush hour, tube delay, central london busy, and making our way took nearly double the time and wasn't a pleasant experience. If your heading out on a saturday evening, go out earlier, or allow much extra time, and be prepared to shuffle along!
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- Also Known As:
- Riad Noor Charana Marrakech