If a dose of the exotic is your idea of a wonderful break away, then there can be few better places to go than fabulous Marrakech; dazzlingly original with its labyrinth of lanes and alleys in the souk marketplaces and ancient mosques and palaces. To ensure that your accommodation matches the intrigue of the destination, check out Riad Star, an intimate boutique hotel from Marrakech Riad, the 4th property in their portfolio. Flights from London only take just over 3 and a half hours, which if anything makes Marrakech seem even more magical; one minute you’re at your desk and the next you’re in another world!
The hotel was once the home of Jazz Age icon Josephine Baker and a recent renovation plays homage to the star. At the start of the renovation, the owners weren’t aware of the history of the riad but after finding out about the famous resident, they ensured she is much celebrated; as well as making sure that the style and glamour of the hotel is worthy of its past, they have sourced Josephine memorabilia – some even directly from the Paris music halls where she performed. At the heart of the hotel you’ll find a classic Marrakech Riad courtyard complete with a dipping pool, fountain, open Moroccan sitting room and dining room with a stunning feature fireplace, plus there is the luxurious hammam and massage suite. Outside the private roof terrace offers a further seating area with an outdoor fireplace and sun loungers and views across the Medina to the snow topped Atlas Mountains, perfect for some calm sanctuary from the craziness of Marrakech. This is real Moroccan hospitality; personal service is valued and your airport transfers can be arranged, restaurant reservations made and they’ll even serve your breakfast exactly when you specify. They are English speaking and the concierge services are available 24/7.
There are just 13 guest rooms each with their own personality and a slightly different theme, all are beautiful, luxurious and classy with echoes of Moroccan style and art deco influences. All the rooms feature air conditioning, en-suite facilities, mini fridge, room safe, iPod docks, flat screen TV with satellite channels, unlimited mint tea, luxurious pure silk duvets and complimentary toiletries and there is complimentary Wi-Fi in the Riad courtyards. There are 4 superior rooms, 2 junior suites and 2 huge suites, some of the suites can interconnect which works perfectly for families and for a larger group, the whole Riad can be reserved for a total of 36 guests. My favourite room would probably be Paris, mainly because the ambience matches the name, this is glamour personified in a room!
The breakfast is generous and delicious, the omelettes are a must! Dinner in the evening must be booked and this is definitely recommended, it is served on the terrace at sunset where delicious Moroccan dishes are served up – the lamb tagine is delectable. Your central location means that you are well placed to access the finest restaurants in Marrakech, ask your hosts for recommendations.
This is a great resort for a wellbeing break or at least some rejuvenation during your Moroccan education. The new courtyard with rolling roof is perfect for yoga and the expanded Hammam and Spa now offers new treatments including hot stone therapy. When you do venture out, you’ll find that the hotel is perfectly situated right in the heart of the old town with top attractions like the Marrakech Museum and the Ben Yussef Madrassa on your doorstep. Just a 12-minute stroll away you’ll find the famous Jemma Al Fnaa square, a UNESCO world heritage site – make sure you visit both by day to see the colourful street performers and snake charmers and by night for a literal feast explosion; grab a late-night snack and let the rhythm of the drums creep into your soul. Of course, the lure of the souks is great, with a tempting range of carpets, spices, leather goods, metalwork and more just make sure you have extra space in your cases! If you do get lost, your hosts provide a pay-as-you-go mobile which you can ring and they will come and find you, great service! The hotel also has a dedicated kitchen demonstration space for cookery lessons; perfect to gain some tips to help you re-create some delicious Moroccan cuisine when back at home.
Don’t miss the dressing up box for grown-ups! More of a cupboard really, packed with costumes which guests can wear to recapture the spirit of the roaring twenties, many of these were actually worn on the Paris stage so trying on a few makes for a totally unique evening of fun!
For a peaceful haven amid the wonderful chaos of Marrakech, the hidden gem of Riad Star offers comfort in beautiful surroundings and a lovely Moroccan welcome.
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