Starting from the beginning, the email communications were great and we organised an airport transfer (15 euros) and dinner (36 euros for 2 people) at the riad for our first night of arrival with Eveyln the French owner. No problems with the transfer and we were guided through the alley ways to the riad by the driver. The host sat us down in our private lounge on the ground floor next to the pool and served mint tea and showed us a map. All fine but she could speak very little English and soon disappeared. Nothing was mentioned about our dinner and as the lady had left we had to find the night porter who was sleeping on the roof. He said we didn't have a reservation and an hour of confusion ensued. Eventually we were given bread, water and vegetables, which were very nice but there was no meat and cous cous as booked. Later in the week when I spoke to the owner about paying a reduced price she only knocked off 3 euros each - so we paid 30 euros for bread, water and vegetables. Not happy.
The room (Jacaranda) did not appear to be the Superior Double we booked but was fine, nicely decorated and clean enough. There are no windows (as expected for a riad) and was quite cold as there was no heating (there was an air con unit though). Bed was quite lumpy and only one flat pillow each provided. Wardrobe space is ample but only 4 hangers provided, and the safe within does not work - Omar the night porter said it didn't matter as he was there all the time.
The bathroom is like a polished concrete shell within the room, toilet always clean, his and hers copper sinks were nice but shallow so water splashed about a lot. Shower taps are on the wrong way around so the tap that read "Hot" was in fact cold. The hook the shower head sits in was useless as when the shower head was in it and you turned the water in, the water flew out horizontally and hit the other wall, so you have to hold the shower head to wash yourself and balance it on the taps when shampooing etc.
The inner courtyard is lovely to look at, the plunge pool is very small and very cold - good to put your blistered feet in at the end of the day to numb the pain though! The open roof was covered as it was winter (I assume) and as we hadn't been given a tour or overview of the facilities we decided to go wandering and found the roof terrace. There are a couple of sun loungers and a covered seating area which was nice but we were not invited to use it or shown how to work the tv and radio up there. Again I think this was a communication problem as the staff could barely speak any English - I think they should provide an information sheet in different languages as this would have been very helpful. Having said that all the other guests over the 5 days we were there were French anyway, and they all seemed very well looked after. We were just left to it.
Overall I would say the riad is OK for the off-season price we paid, authentic not luxurious and basic but clean. Almost booked Riad 72 but we went for dinner there instead and it looked stunning with top notch service.
The riad is easy to find once you have been there - the staff do not know 'right' and 'left' correctly in english however so we got lost on our first outing. All you have to do is: turn right out of the door, turn right again (there is no left), turn left, then right onto the main street (little shop opposite sells water for 3 Dirhams) then head straight up Rue de Kasbah. At the end of this street are the Saadian Tombs (10mins walk from riad) and then turn left go though the arch way and turn right and head straight on to get to the the main square (20 mins from riad).
There is a cheap and cheerful rooftop restaurant on Rue de Kasbah which is clean and the lamb kofta dish and moroccan salad are fantastic - it is called Nid Cxxxx, on the left hand side, and overlooks a massive stork next on the Saadian Tombs. Directly opposite here is a small alley way leading to the Sultana hotel and and spa or there is Le Bains de Marrakesh round the corner to the left of the arch way for hammam and treatments. Essouria is a wonderful trip to the beach, 3 hours on coach and they tell you it is fully booked so you have to take the more expensive bus which is not scheduled and I assume is just laid on for tourists... Riad organised our trip to Ourika Valley - no options given, no group tours available, so we were forced to have a private taxi at the cost of 100 euros!! We were told the falls at the end were an easy walk - in fact it is a difficult climb up rocks and you are forced to pay a guide to drag you up to see a tiny waterfall. The beber village they described was actually a shambles of market stalls on any flat bit up the rocks - hardly the cultural experience we wanted. Tip: Dont bother going.
On the whole we will will not be returning to Morocco and would not recommend Marrakesh to anyone; despite being covered up and respectful of local customs I was spat on by an old woman, we were repeatedly sworn at by the unofficial "guides" we didn't want everywhere we went, and my husband's back pocket was slashed open - luckily nothing was in it. So... good luck!
- Also Known As:
- Riad Calista Hotel Marrakech