As you walk down the old city streets and into the back alleys towards the Riad, our first thoughts were 'what have got ourselves into?...' We arrived around 7pm and decided to have dinner at the the Riad.
As we entered through the main door, we were warmly greeted by Yusuf the manager and Syed his assistant. Sitting in the courtyard and being served mint tea, was nice, although it has to be said at this point we were distinctly. underwhelmed.
We stayed in the Ouarda Suite, a decent sized room, beautifully and authentically decorated. Dinner was again nice, although a little bland for our liking.
After the first night, we decided to head out towards Jemaa el-Fnaa, the market square. The walk from the road, at first, felt pretty intimidating, really small tight streets, and mad motorcycle drivers doing what felt like 50MPH as they zoomed past.
Strangely, that became one of our most exciting parts to our holiday, being able to take in the culture of the old city, and Riad Shaden is in the perfect location, close to the Bab Aylen gate, so you can jump into a taxi and head off new city, but also about a 20 minute walk to the main square.
The staff were amazing, always smiling, and happy to give good advice about places to go and how not to be ripped off by the over inflated starting prices for the souks or taxis. On our 4th night, we decided to relax and spend the evening in the Riad. The roof top terrace is surprisingly quite, and a great place to just unwind.
The highlight of our stay, was an excursion, although not provided directly by the Riad, it was recommended to us by Syed. About a 40 minute drive into the dessert, we had dinner at the Marrakech Dessert camp which was a simply magical place, beautiful candle light dinner, with great chilled out Moroccan music, amazing food and a really lovely family as our hosts. For 450 dirhams per person, you get a camel ride to the camp followed by dinner. We arrived as the sun was about to set. Watching the sunset whilst riding a camel into the dessert has to be one of the most amazing moments of our holiday. But that was nothing compared to the actual camp itself, which was set around an ancient farm house, with traditional Berber tents outside.
On the final night we came to really appreciate the Riad, both for its hospitality and convenience, not to mention the AC!!!
If you are looking for a swanky up market 3/ 4 star hotel, I wouldn't recommend Riad Shaden. On the other hand, if you want to really experience marrakech, and spend time with people that are genuinely welcoming, and make you feel like you are staying with family then this has to be the place to stay..