If you can splurge, stay in a riad!
Beautiful architecture and tilework! Price was cheaper than a B&B in US. Jean Pierre made our stay very comfortable. He recommended places to go, landmarks to remember and how to navigate in the seemingly vast medina. Indoor garden & fountain. Central location. Quiet.
What a fabulous place!
It is built around 2 courtyards, rather than the more normal single one. It is comfortable, quiet and exotic. A real taste of upper class Moroccan lifestyle!
All I can suggest is to take a look at the website, and then go see.
They were very helpful about collecting from/delivering to taxis on arrival and departure.
I had dinner there and it was superb - a little pricey, but it is almost like private dining!
Breakfast was great as well.
Cost me €95 (inc breakfast - ex dinner) for the Messria room - December 09. Ambiance...
Amazing old house, the 3 suites are really cosy. They also have 2 cheaper rooms so you can have a night in a riad for a reasonable price.
2 suites for 2 pers: 950 Dh/US$95
1 suite for 2 or 3 pers: 950 Dh/US$95 or 1100 Dh/US$110
1 dbl room with bathroom: 650 Dh/US$65
1 dbl room without bathroom: 450 Dh/US$45
Riad for 12 pers.: 4200 Dh/US$420
Prices include breakfast, rooms are heated for winter time. The house itself and the people working and living there are wonderful and always ready to help. Breakfast...
Main cities - English - Part 2
"Day 6 – Marrakech"
2 pm: Tea break after a walk around the new town, Gueliz. We visited a few art and handicrafts galleries. The atmosphere in this part of town is a lot quieter than in the souks, that’s for sure! On the way back to the Koutoubia, we went by the Mamounia resort hotel: pure luxury! Near the Mamounia there’s a great view of Marrakech’s ramparts and the Atlas mountains: a great photo op at sunset.
4:30 pm: Break at the Marrakech Museum, located in the souks. The collections consist mainly of pottery, and are somewhat limited, but the palace in which the museum has been set up is really worth a visit. There’s an inner courtyard with a fountain…the sound of the water and the background music are really soothing. Just close your eyes and go back in time…The museum also hosts temporary exhibits. We saw an amazing collection of pastel drawings by F. Sasmayoux.
6:30 pm: Back at the Argana for a freshly squeezed orange juice on the terrace. The food stands have been set up on the square. We can hardly hear the music over the din of the crowds and traffic below.
"Day 7 – Marrakech"
12 pm: Breakfast on the hotel terrace this morning. The sun came out again after some showers last night. Today is our last day in Marrakech and we don’t have a very ambitious itinerary…we just want to soak up the atmosphere one last time. Sketch break at the Kasbah mosque while we waited for the Saadian tombs to open up after lunch. Unfortunately, the Kasbah mosque, which has a beautiful square minaret decorated with green tiles, is not open to non-Muslim visitors.
3:30 pm: After visiting the Saadian tombs and the El Bali palace, we stopped for a tea break at the Argana and ended up ordering ice cream! Unfortunately, the El Bali palace didn’t have much to offer besides a nice view of Marrakech from the roof. Although it was once the city’s most luxurious palace, today there isn’t much left of it.
8:30 pm: Back to Djemaa El Fna square one last time. The constant pressure from beggars and street performers asking for a few dihrams is almost unbearable and really takes away from the pleasure of this unique place. Impossible to take a picture or even people watch without someone asking for a contribution. The musicians have an uncanny knack for finding the one tourist in the crowd and then homing right in for the kill while everyone else stares!
Overall, Marrakech’s main attractions are the wonderful atmosphere, and the beautiful palaces and riads (not always easy to find). This city never sleeps, but has lost a bit of its authentic flavor due to the influx of tour groups.
Tomorrow we leave for Fes, where I am sure we will be in for a few surprises…
"Day 8 – Fes"
9 am: The train has just started moving, we are on the way to Fez, the end of the line. The trip takes 7 hours.
9:15 pm: No problems during the train trip. We arrived at the Riad Louna guesthouse where our room was simple but comfortable. The Belgian owner gave us a warm welcome and took us on a brief walking tour of the neighborhood around the riad, located just inside the medina. He was hoping to familiarize us a bit with the area, but given the maze-like layout of the streets, it was a losing battle. Tomorrow we plan to take a guided tour of the medina (guide recommended by the owner of the riad).
Even though most of our day was eaten up by the train trip, we were ready for a good night’s rest.
"Day 9 – Fes"
9 am: Hearty breakfast at the riad while waiting for the guide to pick us up. We got a good night’s sleep, and now we are ready to explore the medina.
1 pm: Stop for lunch at a restaurant after visiting a section of the medina including a fondouk, medersa, and the tanneries. We visited a carpet shop called “Aux merveilles du tapis” located in a beautifully restored riad. Fortunately the manager didn’t use hard sell tactics and we were able to see a variety of local and Berber rugs.
3 pm: Back at the riad. The guided tour went relatively well. We got a good overview of the medina, and contrary to what we feared, we only visited 5 stores, one for each major handicraft (carpets, leather, weaving, etc.). It was overkill, but it did give us a chance to see the different handicrafts, and although I am sure that our guide would have appreciated a commission, there wasn’t really excessive pressure on us to buy anything.
4 pm: Dar Batha Museum. The collection brings together a vast collection of Moroccan pottery under one roof.
6:30 pm: Break back at the riad with a nice hot glass of mint tea.
"Day 10 – Fes"
2 pm: After finishing our meal at the Kasbah Restaurant we ventured into the medina on our own, hoping to find the pottery souks. Getting lost is all part of the experience in the medina, but getting around is made easier by the fact that the medina slopes down toward the Oued Fez. The Bat’ha gate is up at the top and the tanneries are down at the bottom of the polluted river. We were a bit disappointed by the pottery workshops, and weren’t sure if we had actually found the main manufacturing area or not. In the afternoon we headed up to the new town to the handicraft center, which is reputed to be the country’s best.
6 pm: We went back to the riad after passing through the mellah, or Jewish quarter, which is adjacent to the Royal Palace. The handicrafts center had a variety of high-quality objects at prices (in theory fixed) that seemed reasonable.
Getting through the mellah souk was a bit of a challenge as Sunday is market day and we had to fight thick crowds. In any case, the atmosphere in this market area was certainly more relaxed than in the medina, probably due to the lack of tourists here.
"Day 11 – Fes"
9 am: We headed out with the owner of the riad on a drive around the city to some of the poorer neighborhoods of Fez and the two “borj” or fortified hills on the north and south sides of the city. Far off the tourist trail, we visited the workshops of several craftsmen producing “zelliges” or tile mosaics.
11 am: We decided to go to a pottery shop called “Chez Rachid” at the recommendation of the riad’s owner, who purchased all of his guesthouse’s tableware there. The prices were reasonable and Rachid takes special orders.
2 pm: We decided to go back to the new town, where we had lunch on the terrace of the Assouan restaurant . It’s right across the street from the handicrafts center and has international dishes including pizza and salads at reasonable prices.
3 pm: We purchased two pieces of pottery at the handicrafts center: a large couscous dish and soup tureen that appear to be of excellent quality at reasonable prices. We had to be a bit forceful to get more than a couple of sheets of newspaper to wrap them in, but our insistence paid off and we ended up with some sturdy packaging to protect our treasures until we got them safely home. Unfortunately, at the register, we learned that the credit card reader was “out of order” and that only cash would be accepted (from a nearby ATM, of course). After a little haggling, we got 10 percent off the “fixed” prices and probably could have gotten more before the money disappeared into the salesman’s pocket! We left, happy, with our packages and headed back to the medina.
9 pm: We went back to the riad after having dinner at the Kasbah restaurant again (we seem to have a tendency to keep going back to the same places once we find one we like). It’s our last night at the riad, which is a shame as it’s a great place to soak up the Fes atmosphere and it really feels much more like someone’s home than a hotel. The staff is incredibly kind and always on hand to help. Don’t hesitate to call them and they will direct you to the riad, which is very close to the Batha post office.
"Day 12 – Meknes"
1 pm: We arrived at the Akouas Hotel, right near the Gare El Amir Abdelkader, Meknes’ second train station. It was a good thing the hotel wasn’t far, because we were loaded down with all of our purchases from Fez. The hotel was clean and modern, but definitely lacked the character of the guesthouse in Fez!
4:30 pm: A quick break…at Mc Donald’s…located between the medina and the new town. It looks like THE place for cool young students to meet. We took a quick walk around the medina, which seems much more laid back than those in Marrakech and Fez, most likely because tourists don’t come here very frequently. No one approached us to “help” us find a hotel or to offer their “guide” services…
"Day 13 – Meknes"
9:30 am: On the way to the medina we stopped for a breakfast of coffee, fresh orange juice, and croissants at the Florence pastry shop.
12 pm: Lunch break. This morning, we visited the Dar Jamai Palace, the Bab el Mansour gate, and the Ambassadors’ Palace (Koubbat as Soufara) for a total of three museums completely devoted to rugs, one of our favorite subjects! The carpet exhibition brought together collections from all over Morocco and gave a thorough overview of this craft. Our only regret was that the Dar Jamai palace could have been a bit tidier and better-lit! We also visited the impressive Moulay Ismail mausoleum, a holy place filled with history.
4 pm: We visited the Bou Inania madrassa, which was in a pitiful state of decay.
8 pm: We were the only customers for dinner at the Gambinus restaurant. The portions were huge and the food was good in an entertainingly decrepit and kitschy atmosphere.
Hammam visit in Fez
I'm going to Fez, Morocco in a week and I've heard that it has incredible traditional hammans but I'm a little bit afraid of going on my own and am not sure how to find them. Can anyone give me any good tips or do you know if there are any travel companies that could organise a trip for me?
Re: Hammam visit in Fez
You haven't said where you were staying, but I hope you are staying in a riad in the medina. Apart from giving you more value than you would find in a hotel, a cheap or an upscale riad would probably be able to set you up for a hammam visit.
Re: Hammam visit in Fez
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all the best