I recently had the good fortune to revisit Morocco – this time Marrakech (last time Essaouira). On the recommendation of a friend I chose to stay in a riad in the Northern part of the medina, managed by a Moroccan company called Marrakech Riads (www.marrakech-riads.com);
Wending my way down narrow alleys with cobbled stone and low-hung beamed arches, I finally arrived at the door of “Al Jazira,” to be welcomed by a smiling young man who then led me into the first of three courtyards in this beautifully elegant yet pure and simple riad.
Before retiring to my equally elegant and tranquil room I benefitted from the table d’hôte service and to my surprise was served dinner for two (I was not alone!) in the principal and largest courtyard, which I can only describe as akin to Greco-Roman splendour.
This courtyard is of palatial proportions with a raised dais overlooking the inviting aquamarine water of the plunge pool below, the perimeter walls furnished the entire length with sofas and cushions for true Pasha lounging.
It was upon this dais at a candlelit and rose-petalled table that my partner and I sat with wine glass in hand, feeling not like the King and Queen of some quotidien earthly country but rather Emperor & Empress of the universe!, so “grand” was the feeling of this simple yet voluminous and noble space; with the night-sky casting its benevolent and balmy warmth above us.
Yes folks, we were in heaven and continued to feel so for the remainder of our stay.
Hardly surprising that we decided to sample two other offerings of this company; Dar Cherifa – Café Littéraire/Gallery and lunch-time restaurant in the heart of the Medina; and for evening dinner “Dar Zellij” restaurant, a stone’s throw from the riad and continuing the simple yet epicurean taste in both décor and cuisine.
Dar cherifa is one of the oldest residences in the medina, dating back to the 16th century, with an unsurpassable ambiance of luminous peace and serenity. We ate a delightful lunch of delicately spiced Moroccan salads followed by an absolutely “scrumptious” desert of fruit-filled briouates (crispy filo-like pastry) with the proverbial but refreshing mint tea.
We then whiled away an undisturbed hour on the sun-kissed roof-top terrace with our current “read” before heading off to the turbulence of the souk. To assuage the inevitable effects of an afternoon of baiting, bartering and bantering we showered off back at the riad, dipped in the plunge pool, dressed to the nines and headed for dinner at Dar Zellij - within rolling distance should we have had one glass too many of champagne!
I will cut to the quick here and unequivocally state that we passed a thoroughly memorable evening; with flawless service and cuisine amidst a refined yet unpretentious and relaxed ambience in yet another splendid and lovingly restored example of Marrakech’s fine architectural heritage!
Mabrouk (congratulations in Arabic) to the Patron “Abdellatif Aît Ben Abdallah” for both the vision and commitment to seeing his dream through!
I have to confess to having eaten here a second time with a French friend of mine who turned to me half-way through dinner to say “pinch me, I need to check I’m not dreaming!”
What more can I say?
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- 15 spotless, blisteringly white guestrooms are hidden behind heavy wooden doors and layers of linen drapes. Airy central covered courtyards have comfy seating areas: red rugs on golden brick floors, leafy palms over wooden chaises and – spectacularly – a colonnaded swimming pool in a setting reminiscent of great Carthage. Colourful accents are provided by red or purple cushions and kilims, and artfully arranged rose petals. We like this riad. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riad Al Jazira Hotel Marrakech