This was not the original Riad that I had wanted to book in Marrakech, but the place I had my heart set on was booked for the dates I was going to be in Morocco. With that said, I asked my travel agent to find my a similar Riad. After reviewing her selections, I had booked this Riad based on previous reviews on TripAdvisor and on the photographs. The photographs don't do this place justice. It is truly a breathtaking dive into the world of the "1001 Arabian Nights". The building is an ancient merchant's home converted into hotel, hammam, and restaurant. Their website advertised that they have a total of 5 rooms (3 regular rooms and two suites). However, when I stayed there they had reduced the total number of rooms to 3, getting rid of two rooms to expand the restaurant at courtyard level. I had booked a suite and it was luxuriously appointed with sumptuous bedding, linens, a walk-in closet, two separate seating areas, Bang-Olufsen stereo, flat-screen TV, free WiFi, and a bathroom to outdo all bathrooms...black serpentine marble everywhere, double sinks, a jacuzzi tub big enough to fit two people with a rain-head shower directly overhead, surrounded by wall-to-wall mirror, and a beautiful stained glass window. The toilet and bidet had their own separate nook. The suites, located on the second level have their own private terraces as well as a shared terrace with a trellis, huge bougainvillea vines, orange bearing trees and roses. The Riad also has their own line of bath products that are scented with the perfume of orange blossoms. This was the ever-present and heady aroma of the Riad and it wafts you away into a land of fantasies and tranquility. The courtyard is closed off from the noise and dust of the streets outside and is laid out in black and white marble tile, a wading pool (seldom used), sofas and tables under orange trees and bougainvillea vines, bamboo, and a huge cactus. The decoration of the entire Riad is a fusion of traditional Moroccan, Arabic, and French styles that recall the classic films of the 30's and 40's. This place like most Riads located in the Medina of Marrakech, are difficult to find. Since the streets and alleyways of the Medina have no names and the houses are not numbered, it is almost imperative that you have a local guide take you there or call ahead to have a staff member meet you on the street to guide you in. I had booked a two and a half week trip to Morocco and I was going to be going everywhere, so when it came to lodgings in Marrakech in the latter half of my trip, I wanted a place that I could relax, unwind and luxuriate.
Upon waking to the gentle tunes of local songbirds, I would have breakfast in the courtyard. Breakfast varied all the time, but stuck to the Continental variety with freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee or tea, bread with butter and marmalades, and pastries. Sometimes I would get fresh fruit or fruit salad...Everything always fresh and delicious! I ate at the Riad's restaurant twice. The first time I had their Prix Fixe menu which consists of traditional Moroccan dishes prepared in the Nouvelle French style. Appetizers came as ten different Moroccan salads served in tiny little tanginess followed by Briouattes filled with forcemeat's of chicken, or lamb, or cheese and vegetables. Roast lamb, chicken tagine, and a couscous dish all deconstructed and presented so beautifully that you just wanted to look at the dishes. However, the food was exceptional! The entertainment offered was the Gnawah musicians out in the courtyard playing traditional music and belly-dancing by the Riads resident danseuse. Desserts were typically fruit laden Phyllo napoleons or fruit salads and the ever-present mint tea. The second time I ate at the restaurant with some friends I made the first time eating there, we were offered a special dinner not on the menu...since we had already had the Prix Fixe selection. The Prix Fixe menu is expensive. But if you want to dine in this style, most of the restaurants of this caliber in Marrakech also are within the same price range.
When I came back from a 3-day excursion to the Sahara, I returned dusty and tired. I took advantage of the Riads hammam and booked for a 60 minute massage and a scrub-down in the hammam. The massage was great, the scrub-down was not my expectation of what a hammam experience would be...I was a little disappointed. Compared to spa services in world-class spa resorts this just a soap, rinse and dry.
The housekeeping staff always had my room ready when I returned from a hot and busy day. The staff in general was incredibly courteous and always went out of their way to grant my every wish. In one instance, I came back from the street followed by two thugs who were trying to extort money from me just for guiding me out of the Medina when I got lost. I had given them a token of appreciation and they insisted on being pied more. A Riad staff member saw me coming and took care of the "situation". I was grateful for the intervention. A special kudos goes out to the director Majdeline and her night staff counterpart for making my staff a most memorable one.
Now here is what I didn't like about the place and I am nit-picking.
1) Wifi access while free is sporadic and most of the time could not be accessed from my suite. I had to go down to the courtyard to get any Wifi if it was available at that time. Because of the sporadic Wifi sometimes paying for a meal or for your bill with a credit card meant trying several times.
2) the cleaning staff always took my bar soap from my room and seldom replaced it. Towards the end of my stay instead of the orange-blossom scented glycerine soaps that I would find in my bath and sinks. I was presented with a bar of "Luxe" brand bath soap (probably purchased at a local sudries shop).
3) As a guest of the Riad you expect to be able to relax in the courtyard at any hour of the day. However, since this Riad now has only three working guest rooms, they have to make up the rest of their profit via the restaurant, the hammam, or hosting corporate events. Often times I would come back after a day of sightseeing or shopping hoping to relax downstairs with a drink and there would be a corporate function going on for several hours, or other tourists who came to use the hammam spread out on lounge chairs, soaking up the rays that I would have wanted to soak up in their place. Sometimes I had to resort to using just my private terrace or just showering, changing and going elsewhere.
4) While I loved the Buddha Bar inspired soundtrack that played in the background, sometimes it got monotonous. Likewise with the Gnawah musicians that played the same tune...every single night.
5) If the Riad had to clean the wading pool or prepare it for a function, all the water pressure in the guest rooms would cease to exist. There were more than a few times I had to yell out from my terrace with soap in my eyes to complain that I didn't have any water or no hot water.
Like I said, I am nit-picking. For a resort of this caliber all the loose ends should be cleaned up
Overall, this is a wonderful place and one that I would return to if I ever get the opportunity to return to Marrakech.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- At the edge of the patio, a sumptuous steam bath, decorated exclusively with very rare Moroccan marbles, invites you to the delights of the traditional welfare. Featuring an advanced system with a small music amid the fumes, you will taste the subtleties of the local exfoliating scrub. Massages are also offered in room or room in a cozy atmosphere, flavored with subdued lighting and soft music. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riad Lotus Privilege Marrakech
- Riad Lotus Privilege Hotel Marrakech