This was our first trip to Morocco, and since we were planning 7 nights in Marrakech, finding just the right place to stay was very important. My husband and I were bringing our daughter and her two friends – all 16 years old – so safety was a key concern. I started with the Lonely Planet Guide to Marrakech to decide what district suited us best. The Mouassine district appealed to me as it sounded safe and also very centrally located to the souks and the Jemaa El Fna square. I read what the guidebook had to say about each riad in this district, and then checked the Trip Advisor reviews. One of the things that stood out about the Riad L’Orangeraie was that the owner, Cyril, personally responded to each and every review. That told me that top-notch customer service was high on his list.
Cyril was helpful right from the planning stages, arranging a transport from Casablanca to Marrakech (we took a direct flight from JFK – which I would recommend as it was only a 2 – 2 ½ hour ride on a new highway to get the Marrakech), as well as connecting me with other people for a cooking class and a desert tour. The driver was indeed waiting for us at the airport. It was extremely helpful to be accompanied to the riad, as the medina is difficult to maneuver for a first-time traveler. Our driver could only drive to outside the Bab Ksour gate, and from there someone took our luggage in a cart for a short, 5-minute walk to the riad door. We knew we had made the right choice from the moment we walked through the modest entrance into the sanctuary of the riad. We were ushered into a small sitting area, where we met Jamal and Aziz, and were brought mint tea and cookies. Luckily our rooms were ready (it was only mid-morning). We had the two suites on the ground floor. Each room had a queen size bed and a day bed that could be used as either a bed or a sofa. The rooms were interesting in that they had very high ceilings and were long and narrow. The only tricky part was space to put away clothing – there was a small hanging area and some shelves behind the bed, which worked fine.
Here is a short list of some of the details. 1) The beds were SUPER comfortable; 2) The water pressure in the shower was fantastic; 3) There is a safe in every room, which we used instead of locking the door to the suite; 4) hair dryers were provided (helpful since Morocco has different voltage from US); 5) little touches like umbrellas came in handy; 6) there was a dish of nuts, dried apricots and candies and a bottle of water in the room that was replenished daily; 7) They give you a local cell phone and encourage you to call at any time if you need help or get lost; 8) evening turn down service with lit candles in the room and bathroom.
It really felt like a home away from home. Breakfasts on the rooftop were delightful – always fresh squeezed orange juice, a French press for coffee, homemade yogurt, a smoothie that varied by the day, hard boiled eggs, and 3 types of breads (pancakes, French bread, brioche, coffee cake…) Sometimes we let the girls sleep in, and they never complained when we weren’t ready for breakfast until 11:00AM, or if we needed to get an early start. I would highly recommend eating at least one dinner in. The dinners were fantastic. We ate in twice – both times being seated indoors due to some wind and rain. Dinners included bread and olives, an array of delicious Moroccan salads, a tagine and dessert (typically fruit).
I can’t say enough about the staff. Everyone was very friendly. Most of our interactions were with Jamal, Aziz and Cyril. They were always eager to assist, answer questions, make dinner reservations etc. They were genuinely nice, always with a smile and a kind word. We got lots invaluable advice from Aziz regarding how to bargain in the souks, how much to pay for a taxi, and also on where to go for real Moroccan food. The location was fabulous – we only took a taxi once to visit the Jardin Majorelle. We easily walked to all the other sites that we wanted to see. We went out to the Jemaa El Fna square on many nights, which was only a 5-6 minute walk. We never felt uncomfortable, even late at night. Rather than giving out keys to the door, the custom at the riad was to ring the buzzer upon arriving back. This worked well as we never needed to think about keys.
The rooftop terrace has lovely spaces for relaxing and eating, and being one of the taller riads in the area, the views are spectacular. There is a living room area on the first floor with books and games. Keep in mind that the riads are restored homes, so the rooms all face the center courtyard. I used earplugs on one or two nights to help fall asleep when I was going to bed earlier than others. March was the perfect time to visit. It was cool in the evenings, but generally warm during the day (low 70’s), with a little bit of occasional rain for a day or two. Although there was a unit for AC and heat in the room, we never had to turn it on. I left with many fond memories and a wish to return one day.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Restored to its previous grandeur by a passionate team, this ancient Marrakech residence has been transformed into a Riad with a delightful ambiance. The seven spicy bedrooms, warm and colourful like their name, open onto two patios. The garden patio, where you can enjoy the flowers and aromatic plants while the fountain trickles in the background and the pool patio, an invitation to the art of relaxation, beside the sky blue mosaic pool. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Riad De l`Orangeraie Hotel Marrakech