Even before we arrived in Marrakech, we had recieved helpful emails from the riad's owners helping us with our journey planning- arranging a taxi for us from the airport and a porter with a cart to take us from the taxi drop off point through the alleys to the riad. I am sure if we had been left to our own devices it would have taken us twice as long and we would have been far more frazzled when we arrived! As it was, we were welcomed into a calm, cool and inviting house with mint tea, comfy sofas and a chat with Madi, our gracious hostess, with advice on places of interest, good places to eat and other useful nuggets of information as well as a handy map.
We soon met the house staff; Imane, Naima, Fouzia and later Reda, all of whom were extremely obliging, never intrusive but always ready and willing to help if we needed them. I can't thank them enough for helping us to feel so at home and for being very tolerant of our mangled French!
We rested for a while and then set off to explore the wonders of the Place Jemaa el Fnaa and to have dinner at the Marrakshi restaurant, as recommended AND booked for us by Madi. We feasted like kings on tagine, pastilla and oranges a la cannelle as we watched the activity in the Place from the enormous windows. On our return I was genuinely touched to find we had been left a charming note and a bottle of fizzy in our room which we took upstairs to the terrace to enjoy by lamplight. What a perfect way to spend my 40th birthday!
The house is beautifully decorated in opulent style without being so over the top as to feel like you are visiting an art gallery. Each floor has small, quiet seating areas as well as the roof terrace with its honesty bar - a lovely touch and most welcome after a hard day's shopping - so you never feel confined to your room in your downtime. The situation in the medina is perfect, with many sights within easy walking distance and the Place only minutes away. If you want to go further afield there's a handy taxi rank very close by too.
The local shop owners and stall holders soon became familiar and greeted us each morning, even when they knew we weren't stopping to buy. We ate breakfast in the courtyard each morning - a splendid array of pancakes, fresh juice, bread, cakes, coffee... it really sets you up for the day! We met some new friends at breakfast too, of the avian variety. Two small birds joined us each day to share our crumbs and entertain us. If they had been any cuter we would have been in danger of becoming a Disney cartoon!
Madi organised a trip to the mountains which we were delighted to join. She accompanied us herself, translating for us with our driver, mountain guide and at various places of interest along the way, all of which were well worth stopping for and none of which we would have found alone.
Our week came to an end all too soon but right up to our final moments in the riad, the staff were still helping us out, making sure we had a taxi ready to take us to the airport in good time for our flight. I actually had a bit of a tear in my eye as I left!
I fell in love with Marrakech, but Dar el Souk was the matchmaker. Can you imagine that some people still choose to stay in boring hotels with anonymous staff and identikit furnishings? Nope, I just don't get it. Go to Dar el Souk instead and really have a holiday to remember.
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- Also Known As:
- Dar El Souk Marrakech
- Dar El Souk Hotel Marrakech