So you want to go to Marrakech for a vacation, or a weekend, do you stay in a hotel, a riad or a Kasbah. You can stay in an hotel anywhere so why not try a Riad or a Kasbah.
A Riad is an urban house that is situated in the old city, or the medina. It is totally authentic old Morocco, totally tranquil, architecturally beautiful, very traditional, and often extremely luxurious with no money spared in the conversion. Because of the way that houses are designed you could pass one, and not know it was there, because they are inherently private and closed off, with no outside windows, the only access being down an alleyway, so no cars.
The riad is organised around a central courtyard, with all the rooms going off that, the kitchen and living rooms on the ground floor, and the bedrooms upstairs, often with a rooftop terrace covered by an awning, and meals are often taken there. There will be a balustrade running right round the first floor, and the courtyard will have a central fountain, and orange and lemon trees. Because of the thick walls, designed to keep out both the winter cold, and the summer heat, there is no sound of traffic.
A riad is the ideal place to stay if you want to be town, and no distance from all the action. Riads in Marrakesh include, Tigmi, Villa Des Orangers, Caravanserai, Riad Al Moussika, Riad Kaiss, but there are said to be over 300 foreign owned riads in Marrakech at this time. An alternative is to stay in a modernised Kasbah, a real name from the Arabian Nights!!
A kasbah is one notch up from a riad, like a castle or a large fortified country house. Most are enclosed by high pisé walls — made from red earth mixed with straw — which were designed to protect those inside from attackers, and to guard the honour of the owner’s harem. There are hundreds of kasbahs dotted across the south of Morocco, many dating back as far as the 14th century, some with beautifully carved walls, and a number of them have now been restored to their former splendour and have become Kasbah hotels, each different and within easy access to Marrakesh.
.The owner of Kasbah Agafay, one such beautifully restored Kasbah has had a genius of an idea, and he has opened a ‘club’ in Marrakech, which is about half an hour away, and is called Kssour Agafay. In this way his guests can spend a few days unwinding in the country, then go to Marrakech for the day, leaving their shopping there, have tea, and generally treat it as a members club. The 15th century town house is bang in the medina and it doubles as a boutique hotel. You’ll want to join so you can use the bar, sitting room, rooftop terrace and the six boldly coloured rooms.
This is a perfect arrangement with the fun of Marrakech, and the tranquillity and beauty of the Moroccan countryside, and the fascination of a beautifully restored Kasbah to go back to after the hustle and bustle. Apart from Kasbah Agafay, you might care to look at Kasbah Tamadot, a Richard Branson inspiration, Kasbah Du Toubkal, which has no vehicular access.
Whether you choose a riad, or a Kasbah, or both you are assured of great comfort, superb food, and wonderful hospitality