Thanks to a Living Social voucher, my wife and I, for the first times in our lives, traveled outside our European comfort zone and visited Marrakech, Morocco. The voucher was for three nights at Riad Utopia Suites and Spa, a quiet retreat hidden away in the old walled city, or medina, of Marrakech. The package included a transfer from the airport to the hotel—and back to the airport after our stay. Our driver awaited in the greeting area and within 20 minutes or so, we were at Riad Utopia. Interestingly, the shuttle parked in a common parking area within this densely inhabited city, and the driver rolled our luggage some distance to the hotel entrance tucked back within several twisting and turning alleyways, a common feature in old Marrakech, not unlike Venice. The hotel staff welcomed us with a tray of hot sweet mint tea and were friendly, attentive, and helpful from the moment we arrived to our departure. Their English was good enough for us to get by, but some fluency in French or Arabic would be a definite advantage for visitors. They offered good suggestions for newbies such as ourselves and arranged for a marvelous walking-tour guide to spend an afternoon with us (for a reasonable charge), a high point of our stay in Marrakech. Our private guided walk with Khalid was a real eye-opener and an immensely fascinating and informative experience. Breakfasts, included in the package, were similar to a traditional European continental breakfast: Moroccan breads, kefir (a delicious yogurt drink), coffee, juice, jams, honey, olive oil, and a coarse sweet corn cake. One dinner was included, although we chose to have all our dinners there, so good were they and so inviting was the interior of the hotel—a open-air courtyard built around an attractive tiled pool with three levels of rooms rising up on four sides around the central space. The set dinners varied and were always delicious and ample, with tender lamb, couscous, vegetables, and other tagine dishes (a cooking method in North African countries using a conical clay vessel) standing out in my mind. Light desserts capped every meal. The two meals we elected to pay for were on the expensive side, but given how satisfactory the overall accommodations were, we didn't mind. Our room was comfortable and private with a spacious layout, a lovely bath and shower, and just cool enough with its air conditioning to help us cope with Morocco’s hot desert environment. The hotel was sheltered enough within the old city so that it was very quiet at all times. How moving it was to hear in the distance the faithful being called to prayer several times each day. Riad Utopia Suites and Spa was a good base from which we could begin to get a glimpse into life among a predominantly Islamic culture and an ancient civilization to boot. It was a revelation, a good one, and our friendly home far away from home was a welcome retreat on this journey of discovery, a discovery of how much bigger and richer and different the world is than the familiar slices of it that usually surround us.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Dans la tangente de la célèbre place Jamaa El Fna, vous serez accueilli dans l'art de la tradition marocaine : chaleureusement et respectueusement. Vous découvrirez la magie de l'Orient alliée au design et au calme d'Utopia Suites & Spa. Toujours à votre écoute et à votre service, notre équipe vous recevra avec les prestations d'un hôtel de luxe et fera du Riad votre demeure : senteurs fleuries, massages délicats, soins de beauté, mets aux mille et une épices. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riad Utopia Hotel Marrakech
- Riad Utopia Suites And Spa