I have to be honest: I am picky about where I rest my head at night. Poor quality bedding, a bad shower and towels the size of postage stamps just don’t cut it for me. Camping isn’t exactly my thing. Sadly, my budget doesn’t always allow for the finest establishments, so it forces me to be more creative and resourceful. In discussing my trip to Morocco with a dear friend, we came to the conclusion that it was key for me to really get a REAL Moroccan experience and that perhaps renting a riad (a private house that has a central courtyard) was the way to go. But where to start? Literally hundreds of options on the Internet. I had heard great things about airbnb.com. I spent hours and days communicating with different riad owners until I came across one that stopped me in my tracks: a recently restored riad, with crisp white walls, beautiful antiques from all around the world and two tortoises residing on the private roof deck. How was all of this possible and within the budget? Something had to be off. I was suspect for sure, but I went ahead and booked it anyway.
Philip (the owner) and I exchanged dozens of emails over a few months. All of my questions were always answered and everything that I wished for he arranged. A pick up at the airport, a traditional dinner at the riad, etc. Philip lives in Portugal with his wife and 2 daughters. A few years back fell in love with Marrakesh. He decided to purchase a dilapidated riad, which he spent over a year restoring and creating a oasis from the chaos of the bustling medina.
Upon arriving we were greeted by Mohammad and Hajiba - the house manager and house keeper. Mint tea and birds singing in the courtyard. Instantly it felt like home. Their service could not have been more wonderful. They took care of everything and were indispensable in navigating the ways of Marrakech.
Waking up to breakfast in the courtyard with hot coffee, breads, grapefruit marmalade (made from the tree in the courtyard), yogurt and Moroccan pastries (like Moroccan donuts and crepes).
The riad was slightly off the beaten path – in a residential section of the medina – I thought it would be a relaxing retreat after being out all day. The riad exceeded my expectation and I am hoping to come back again to stay.
What were the only down sides? Not that many - wifi is a bit spotty (but hey- you are meant to be relaxing and not so connected, so really not a big deal), and you might want to pack your own blow dryer (I did!) and a bar of soap for the shower.
Other than that, I thought it was perfect and absolutely charming. I would suggest it to anyone traveling to Marrakech.
Riad Porte Royale- Marrakesh