February is low-season, the evenings are cold, the riads are not full, and rates are lower. So we were upgraded free-of-charge to suites. The rooms are very comfortable and they have heaters. Portable heaters heat the bathrooms. This mid-range riad is very tastefully done, and has a lovely terrace where breakfast is served. There is a gorgeous inner courtyard with a fountain that is candle-lit every night. We had complementary transfers to the airport and it is best to clarify that in the rate beforehand.
The location is good as it is a short walk to the medina, Djema Al-Fna. We walked to Saadian Tombs, Dar Si Said, Bahia Palace, the medersa, Museum of Marrakech, souks, tanneries, etc. There are numerous locations to change money and ATMs for cash withdrawal (get better rate through ATMs). There are plenty of cafes and restaurants within walking distance. The outstanding Pepe Nero is a five-minute walk and Mohammed will happily make a reservation (must reserve for this popular place).
The riad is owned by Paolo, who is very pleasant and run by Mohammed and Ishmail. We had exchanged e-mails with Paolo before our visit for various things such vegetarian meals, rates for car/driver/guide, side-trips. Mohammed checked us in, explained everything, and took us to the medina/square so we could find our way without asking anyone. He showed us where to change money. He arranged for a car and driver for a dinner in Ville Nouvelle and for Valley Ourika. It is almost certainly cheaper to arrange for a Grand Taxi for dinner from a taxi stand for 3 or people as the Petit Taxis only take up to 3 passengers. But this was convenient as we were tired and it turned out that the restaurant (Cuisine de Mona--an excellent Lebanese restaurant) was not easy to locate, so an English-speaking driver was very helpful. You really do not need a guide to go around and in fact the guides can be a nuisance taking you to shops more than the sights. It is not difficult to get around the old town, it is safe, and a guide book is enough.
So Mohammed is a very useful and helpful resource--he can be moody and it is best to ignore it. In Morocco everything is and should be negotiated (rates, car, driver, guides, certain meals, shops). Ishmail served us our breakfasts very graciously. He loves to chat and it was fun to hear his views and get an insight into life in Marrakech. The breakfasts were lovely consisting of coffee/tea (mint tea as well), almond-flavored yogurt, various Moroccan breads, orange juice, and a little fruit. Between Mohammed and Ishmail, the riad can feel like home away from home. It was also very pleasant to meet other guests.
For vegetarians, Riad 58 Blu has by far the best vegetarian tajine. It was nothing like the bland standard fare with seven vegetables--there were so many fresh, flavorful vegetables and they were perfectly cooked and flavored with tons of fresh herbs. We had to order dinner ahead of time as they normally don't serve meals. We ordered three between the four of us but two would have been plenty. The meal was one of our best on the trip and Ishmail was so wonderful in serving us. So even if you happen to stay elsewhere, do call and book a vegetarian dinner--the setting, the food, and the service are perfect. If the veg food is so good, the chicken and lamb dishes have to be superb as well.
The only thing that could be mildly inconvenient for people is the lack of shower curtains that make the bathrooms really wet for the next person. Also keep in mind that riads are the equivalent of havelis in India--there are few or no windows, and the windows overlook an inner courtyard. So rooms tend to be dark. Our ground-floor suite had huge, really pretty stained-glass windows which overlooked the pretty courtyard but the room was dark. They are built for very hot summers more than the short, but cold, winters. This is true of all riads as they are traditional homes/big houses that have been renovated. They have far more character and charm than a standard hotel.
We highly recommend this riad as we had a great time.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Enter Riad 58 blu, discover this little treasure, this relaxing oasis in the very earth of the lively medina, just a few steps from the excitement of the famous Jema el Fna square.Let yourself be captivated by the magic of its Moorish style and by the warm welcome of Paolo and Cinzia: Paolo Lombatti, its Italian owner who, after ten years experience in Morocco, will suggest you to take advantage of your stay in Marrakech and how to discover its surroundings. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riad 58 Blu Marrakech
- Riad 58 Blu Hotel Marrakech