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All reviewsmint teael fenaroof terraceexploring marrakeshan ideal locationenjoy your staythree nightsquiet oasisairport picka lovely staybreakfast and dinnertucked awayyogurtsimomoroccoriadsquare
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Reviewed April 22, 2013

Went in April to Marrakech with DW and 1 other couple (4 of us total, early 30s with some traveling experience, mainly across Europe, Turkey, etc) and were really very surprised at Riad Princesse du desert. While we had read a bunch of good reviews prior to going, we didn't know what to expect and the initial impression was tempered by some of fatigue getting there, as well as the relatively small size of the riad (seems much bigger on the pictures). Turns out the reviews were totally legit. I think its appropriate to think of the riads as charming b&b's - these are not luxury hotels, nor are they meant to be. these are authentic, renovated palatial homes - and the personality of these riads is in the intimacy, the location, the staff, the food and as you walk through their doors the first time, the sense that you have indeed stepped back in time. Highlights below regarding why this place gets the ol' 5 circle rating from me - and i am a stingy circle giver...

1. Staff are world class: Youssef and his crew run a tight, fun ship. He's young but has the maturity, discretion, and anticipation you would expect from a very experienced luxury hotel manager. Coordinated with our tour guides, gave us a map of the area, and learned what we like to do immediately (drink!). Mint tea on arrival - sublime. Takes a real interest in his clients and learns what you like. His girls are always in the background and working their butts off with a huge smile on their faces. Invite him to have a glass of wine, or some tea and ask him a little about his backgorund - he loves to share and his English is impeccable. Really a playful personality - even breakdanced a little for our group one night. He loves local music and American music (loves the Beatles) and will play anything for you.

2. Location is primo. Heart of the medina. Two rights and a left and you are in the dizzying chaos of the big Square. Two rights and you are in the middle of the souks (just ask Youssef) - make sure you mentally make a trial of bread crumbs, as you haggle and start shopping with your eyes, its easy to lose your way. I found the best way was to stick to major landmarks and try to stay straight until you get more comfortable. The air conditioning works perfectly in the rooms and you are dead to the world until the birds wake you up int he morning - absolutely beautiful. The showers had no problems, and the rooms are super charming. Beds are kind of hard, which I like, but even the first night it was a little much for me. Breakfast served up when you want it - always ready nomatter what time your tour guide wants you ready.

3. Pay attention TA junkees: Food is stupid (good). EAT here. eat HERE. EAT HERE. At least one of the nights, whether or not you are staying here, do yourself a favor and eat here. My group and I (4 of us; two couples early thirties) ate here on our second night and immediately confirmed for the next night there (while we cursed ourselves for not eating there the night before). The girls shop for ingredients each day so you have to let them know in the morning. They cook amazing, authentic food. Very gentle on American stomachs! They will set the menu and decide based on what is available in the markets that day. Kefta, Pastilla...oh God. Make it go away, its all I see now in my dreams. Great breakfasts and as I've read in other reviews - I really wish we had set up time to do the cooking class. After meeting the girls and the type of experience they provided for other things, I think this would have been really memorable and the chances of you leaving Morocco without a tagine, are pretty low - so having an idea of how to use one woulda been pretty sweet. Next time, maybe.

Some other tips:
Water in the riad was ok for stomachs. Save the included bottle of water for drinking. Only DW was brave enough to sort of drink from the tap (very little though) but used her toothbrush etc all three days, and I braved it out for last two days without any issues whatsoever.
Key can be requested - if you are going to be out late and you are staying more than 1 night you can request a key, but I get the sense that they would prefer not to do this since Youssef will wait for you to get home in case you need anything - but we always felt bad and once they got to know us, they had no problem giving us a key. It was like our own little "home" amongst the controlled madness of Marrakech.

Summary:
This Riad is top notch in its form. It is not a luxury hotel and is not the most impressive physical space. It is a boutique bed and breakfast, ancient and modern, austere and ornamental. The food is served lovingly, and is as authentic and inviting as the staff that serve it to you. Our group left after 3 nights to do 5 more scattered among the towns of Ouarzazat, Merzouga, Dades Valley, the Sahara, and Essaouira and despite the amazing things we saw and did along the way, no accomodations came close. Youssef and his staff deliver. You will be sated, you will be charmed, you will be transported back in time. Marrakech beckons.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Andy K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 29, 2013

My husband and I traveled Morocco for two weeks this spring and were very fortunate to end our stay at Riad Princesse in Marrakech. The Riad is beautifully restored and lovely to return to after a day experiencing Marrakech. Our stay was most amazing because of the staff at the Riad. Youssef could not have been more accommodating. Not only did he exceed all of our expectations and needs, he anticipated them. His attention to detail made our stay pleasant and comfortable in spite of inclement weather. As other reviewers have written, the food is fabulous. Also, you must take the cooking class with Nada and Khadijah! Being a well rounded cook of many ethnic cuisines I didn't think I would gain much from the class but I was so wrong! They used local spice in creative ways and took all evening explaining all of it to us. The next day Youssef purchased the spices we wanted to take home, better than anything we can buy at home at a fraction of the price. Our dinner was amazing. We made the best aubergine salad I've ever had in my life!

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank sunvalleygirl1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 23, 2013

The dinners that they prepared for us were amazing, and staying in the Medina was great. The decor was colorfully Moroccan. and gave us a real sense of place. One look and you know that you are in Morocco.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Susan D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2013

Welcoming and relaxed staff who immediately made it clear that their intent was to serve us well and easily .Tasteful Moroccan decor in a clean and well manged Riad . Youssef ( Mr. Fix-it) impressed us with his attitude that " there are no problems,only solutions " and adeptly applied this attitude to sourcing local ingredients to meet our culinary desires. Khadija came into her own when she, with Youssef's support, ran a very homely cooking class. We enjoyed the simplicity of her effective, efficient but very tasty cooking class and sat down to a very, very pleasing dinner. Other staff, including Fatima were endlessly polite and efficient. Guests with children were rewarded with staff who patiently and happily entertained their children.
We would have no hesitation returning to stay in this Riad when in Marrakech
Denise and Phil
Nornalup, Western Australia

Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
Thank Phil B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2013

My first visit and travelled with three others, all who had been to Marrakech before. We arrived on 31.01.13 for three nights. The taxi that we booked through the Riad was waiting for us at the airport and payment to the luggage boy who takes your luggage on a cart to the riad from the taxi went smoothly at the pre agreed price . We were welcomed with mint tea and biscuits and a very helpful Lhoussine (pronounced Hussain) who was invaluable to us throughout our 3 day stay. Absolutely nothing was too much trouble for him and he went out of his way to please us as well as being very good company. The Riad is in a very good location very close to the Square. We were also shown around the other two riads that belong to the same owner which looked great and we would have been happy to stay at any one of them. We took a horse and trap ride which worked out around £8.00 in total for all four us and we went on a round trip of the Medina, the driver stopping of course at the obligatory pharmacy in an effort to sell us something! This is is not a problem is you make it clear you do not want to buy anything or perhaps mention that you had already bought the same item the day before, many of the vendors like to have a bit of banter and and practice their English, we heard the phrase "cheap as chips" called out to us a few times! The Italian restaurant Pepe Nero can be recommended, beautiful surroundings and lovely food, probably around £30.00 ahead including ample wine! The rooms at the Riad (we had the Onyx room) were dark and fairly small but functional and absolutely fine for a three night stay. They opened into an airy courtyard space, we were on the first floor. Our friends were in the Turquoise room which had a much larger shower/bathroom area. Breakfast was taken up on the room terrace at our request which was initially a bit chilly in the morning sun but soon warmed up. We asked for poached eggs extra to the cakes, mint tea, yoghurt and bread/jam that was already provided and these turned up cooked perfectly and we can recommend a shake of cumin on the top! We also had pancakes with honey one morning and chocolate au pain on another. On our first night, we asked to eat at the Riad and the lady in the kitchen (I think her name was Fatime) cooked us a lovely meal, local Harira soup and a tagine, couscous and salad, it was traditional, freshly cooked and extremely good. We would also recommend the local Morrocan red wine Ksar. During our stay we also went on a camel ride and negotiated a taxi for around £16.00 total and a camel ride for 45 mins for around £11.00 per person whilst the taxi driver happily waited for us. The camels were called names such as Justin Beiber, Claudia Schiffer etc! I think the area was called Palmeraies? You do have to barter quite hard to bring the price down. Whilst at the Riad we also asked for a trip to the local Hamman baths. We were accompanied to the female baths by Fatime the cook at the Riad who must have spent a couple of hours with us, scrubbing us down, covering us with various potions, washing our hair, and slooshing us down with several buckets of water, she worked very hard and it was a brilliant experience to be amongst the local ladies who initially looked at us suspiciously but soon were laughing with us as we were subjected to our deep cleansing treatment. We also had lunch in one of the tagine cafes in the alleyways, we had no idea what was in the tagine, we think probably rabbit but it was delicious served with a big piece of bread and costing only around equivalent to £2.50 per head. We would also recommend stall 14 in the Square for freshly squeezed orange juice probably just over 30p for a glass!. The entire stay was perfect, the weather, the Riad, the transfers and especially the wonderful service from the Riad staff and I would not hesitate to strongly recommend a stay here.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Liz D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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