Now I’ve written a post on what I did in Marrakech, and what I bought, so I thought it worth reviewing one of the places where I stayed – the Riad Saba Marrakech For my review of the Sirayane Boutique Hotel and Spa, click here.
During our trip to Marrakech, we wanted to spend most of our time in the heart of the city – the bustling Medina. This is where the world-famous souks and jemaa al ‘fnaa square is housed.
To enjoy an authentic Moroccan stay, we decided to spend the first few days in a Riad. This is a traditional guest house, formally a family home, where the focal point of the house is a central courtyard.
Riads are built to represent paradise, with fruit trees, a fountain and even a swimming pool take centre stage.
Sadly most Moroccans no longer live in Riads, as they are too expensive to maintain. Locals have vacated to the new town, Geliz.
So the beautiful homes were left to ruin, until developers, mainly from France, threw some cash at them and converted them into guest houses.
The Riad Saba Hotel, where we stayed, was situated just minutes from the souks and the square.
Riad Saba Marrakech – deceptive from the outside
From the outside, the Riad Saba Marrakech isn’t much to look at. In fact, upon arrival, I thought we’d come to the wrong place.
Riad Saba from the outside
However, typical of Riads – which are hidden by high walls – inside was palatial. The interior decor was stunning, with a fountain centrepiece, ornate lanterns and solid cedar wood doors.
Our Riad was owned by a very hospitable Moroccan man who bought the place from a family who just got sick of the sight of each other and decided to go their separate ways.
With just four guest rooms, we really did get the personal service a larger hotel just couldn’t match.
As it was our anniversary, the entire room was decked out with flowers and tealight candles.
Look what I’ve found!
Also, all staff, including the owner, took their time to talk to us every day and advise us on where to go using their local knowledge. They also generally took time out to chat to us about our adventures. Though they offered some excursion packages of their own, and plugged them where possible, we declined their offer as they proved a little more expensive than the rest.
The service at the Riad Saba Marrakech
The service at the Riad Saba was second to none. On one occasion the cleaner had taken my husband’s handwashed shorts, hung them out on the terrace to dry and ironed them before returning to their rightful owner. You wouldn’t get these kind of thoughtful, personal touches in a larger, anonymous hotel.
Breakfast at Riad Saba
Breakfast was served on the roof terrace, so we could enjoy the
fresh air mingle with other guests.
Again, the intimacy of a small Riad meant that people were much more
chatty than they would be at a large hotel.
The breakfast was also better than I’d expected. We were given fruit, yoghurt, egg, cold meats, juices, green tea, preserves, and the Moroccan staple of bread.
The terrace was a great perk. Decked with sun loungers, day beds and patio sets, it was a great place
to escape to when the busy streets got too much but we didn’t want to sit indoors.
So those were the good points.
The bad points of the Riad Saba Marrakech – few but notable
The bedroom itself was quite dark, even when lit. The ceiling lights had dark, lantern-style fittings which didn’t afford much light.
Also, the very nature of Riads is that you get very little privacy compared to a hotel. The traditional wooden doors are locked with a latch, and the glassless windows look into the rest of the Riad. So if you do want privacy, you have to close the black shutters, plunging you into darkness once again.
The other thing I noticed was the distinct lack of wardrobe. Instead there were a few hangers on a short rail in the wall. Again, during holidays, I tend to live out of my suitcase. But for many people, especially those staying longer than a few days, not having a wardrobe may prove a bit of an issue.
The final thing, and this bothered my husband more than me, is that there was no TV in our room, let alone the rest of the hotel. While I quite enjoyed the lack of TV, and relished the chance to read a book, my husband really felt the lack of box.
However, for me, these cons are outweighed by the pros to staying at Riad Saba Marrakech. The guest house provided and authentic Moroccan experience and we really were in the heart of the city. The souk and Jemaa Al ‘Fnaa Square were just five minutes away.
The personal touches, in-depth knowledge, and friendly atmosphere makes the Riad Saba a great crash pad during a stay in Marrakech.
The Riad Saba Hotel costs around £55 a night, though prices may vary depending on season.
For my review of the Sirayane Boutique Hotel and Spa Marrakech, click here.