Riad Star and Movenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakesh
Marrakesh provides accommodation for all
types of travellers. But for many visitors the lure of a traditional riad is
what makes the city such a fascinating place to stay. A riad is a traditional
Moroccan house or palace which has survived the years and still retains its
building around a courtyard or, is some cases, more than one. They have been
refurbished over the years and now provide some of the best boutique
accommodation you will find.
And perhaps the most famous of them is the
Riad Star because of its links with the French-American entertainer, Josephine
But because riads – and the Riad Star is no
exception – tend to be found in the car-free medina section of the city, walking
is required. Nonetheless, when the taxi gets you as close as it is able, a
porter from the riad is on hand to ferry your luggage for the last seven-minute
Welcomed by the friendly staff, we were
checked in quickly and settled into our room in the ground floor close to the
Breakfast is served in the courtyard
opposite a small pool surrounded by traditional seating areas under beautifully
designed arches. A picture of Josephine on cushions is a reminder of the jazz
icon who used to live there during the war. Visitors come here to hear stories
of her fascinating life as a performer and singer as well as her role in
assisting the French resistance during her time in North Africa.
The kitchen in a riad is not like a
restaurant. You get homemade food, cooked by a local chef, served by staff who
treat you as though you were the owners of the palace, so you get a five-star
treatment but with that touch of feeling that you are staying in a family home
with all the typical Moroccan hospitality that implies. The exclusive table set
for us, consisted of several starters such as aubergine, couscous, salads and
rice. So much food came that we were almost full before our main dishes of lamb
tagin and chicken tagin arrived. As is traditional, we finished our dinner with
a homemade desert and Moroccan mint tea.
To compare it with a five-star hotel, try
the Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi
which is outside the medina. Much larger and more accessible by car, it has
recently had $100 million spent on refurbishment so the feel and decor is
luxurious. It offers two swimming pools, a spa, a gym, a cafe and several
restaurants which is more than you would ever find in the confines of a riad.
Oddly enough to me it was a very family friendly hotel, not something that one
might expect from such luxurious accommodation.
Named after Sultan Ahmed Al-Mansour whose nickname was 'Eddahbi'. In the
sixteenth century it was he who spent heavily on turning the city into one of
the finest cities in North Africa just what Movenpick have done with their
Both types of accommodation provide fine living, but both are so different. Staying in each confirms there is a ready market for each.
to Morocco on a direct Air Arabia Airlines flight
from London Gatwick Airport to Marrakesh.
informatioon about Morocco visit www.muchmorocco.com.
To see more
of Reza’s images of Morocco go to www.amirinia.com/morocco.
Images and story © Mohammed Reza Amirinia