I stayed at the Riad Abbassia for a few nights with my boyfriend and we had a great time, it's a great base for exploring the medina and older areas of Marrakech whilst providing a tranquil escape from the noise and bustle of such a lively city. I'm going to review mainly the Riad but also metion a few bits about Marrakech itself which I hope would help anyone planning a visit there.
We booked our holiday independantly and didn't bother arranging transfers to and from the airport. When we arrived at Marrakech airport we went straight out to get a taxi to the medina, which cost 200 dirhams (roughly £16). This is too much and we knew that but just wanted to get going so we accepted it. If you're in the mood to argue over price you should aim to pay no more than 100 and ideally around 50 dirhams. When you're staying in the medina - which is a big walled area full of riads and other traditional housing - you can get a taxi to one of the gates and then walk to the riad. The riad is owned by Lionel (French) and run by Mustapha and his two sisters (we only met one - Latifa). If you contact them prior to travelling they will let you know which gate you need to use and give you good directions. A good rule when travelling in the medina is to stick to the pathways with larger cobblestones and not venture down the ones with little cobbles until you've found the turning for the riad. Avoid looking lost in the medina as people will pick up on this and try to to 'help' you...for a cost. Just say no thankyou politely but firmly and walk away. The medina is a taste of real life in Marrakech and is quite hectic. Some people might find it intimidating but it's great to feel really involved in everyday life and experience a culture very different to your own.
When we arrived at the Riad Abbassia in the evening, which is only a minute's walk from one of the smaller gates at top of the medina, we were welcomed in warmly by Mustapha and shown to our room. We were the only people staying there at that point and they kindly upgraded us to the Turquoise room, although we had booked the Saphir room (the cheapest). Mustapha let us settle in a bit and then gave us a quick tour of the Riad and all the rooms, which are much bigger than you might imagine. The Saphir room is very basic but comfy looking. All of the suites look fantastic and have beautiful bathrooms - I would have been happy to stay in any of them had our budget allowed it. The Turquoise room was great - very colourful and not nearly as small as we imagined, with a fantastic huge bath and shower suspended from the ceiling. The weather while we there was very hot, with some rain, and the ground floor rooms are fantastic in hot weather because they stay really cool but don't get too cold at night when the temperature drops a fair bit. During our visit to Morocco we went on a trek to the Hight Atlas and Sahara for a few days and stayed at the Riad Abbassia either side of the trek. Mustapha kindly let us leave our bags in our room at the Riad while we trekked so if you plan something similar just ask and I'm sure they'd be happy to accommodate you.
As for the rest of the riad - it's built around a central courtyard with a beatiful little fountain and fruit trees which attract pretty little birds similar to sparrows which sing in the morning. There is a covered pool which looks quite inviting, although we really didn't have time to use it. The large kitchen on the first floor is open to guests, you can use the fridge to store food and water and the eqipment to prepare food as long as you tidy after yourself. Next to the kitchen is a beautiful sitting room with a fantastic carved wooden ceiling and also TV and internet access, which is free. Breakfast was served to us every morning in this room, very peaceful and such a fantastic start to each day. On the top deck of the Riad are chairs, tables and sunloungers, although you probably won't have much time for lounging around in Marrakech as there's plenty to see and do.
On our first night, Mustapha drew us a little map showing us the way out of the medina and walked us out once to help us get used to it. We spoke to him every day about what we were planning to see and do, he offered great advice on the best sights and drew us little maps everywhere.
On our last night at the Riad I was ill and this continued to the next day. We had planned to travel on to our next destination in Morocco early that morning but due to my feeling so poorly we had to stay at the Riad unti the early afternoon. Mustapha and Latfia were so helpful and understanding, allowing us to stay without any problems and even taking my boyfriend to the Pharmacy to get some medicine for me. Latifa kindly mixed up some freshly squeezed lemon and strong coffee for me, which tasted foul but helped to settle my stomach. When we were ready to leave, Mustapha helped us carry our bags out of the medina to the taxi and wished us a good journey.
Marrakech in general - we spent four nights and two full days there, which seemed enough to see the main sights without too much hurry. The main square is a great place to spend the evening and you should definitely try eating at one of the little food karts at least once. Anyone stopping you in the square is probably trying to sell you something, they're generally harmless but will always want more than you try to give them. Stand your ground and don't pay more than a reasonable price. If you don't want the service they have tried to offer, refuse to pay, even if they are insistent. Be careful around the henna ladies as they may try to grab your hand and apply henna with a syringe-looking instument if you stop near them. Do not pay them if they do this, you didn't ask for it and it wasn't fair of them to force it on you. If you do get henna and want to get rid of it, buy some black soap and an exfoliating glove - with a few minutes rubbing over a couple of days the henna should fade. The souk in the main square is a must, and is calmer during the day when sellers will be less pushy. Don't be afraid to haggle and aim for around 30% of the asking price if it seems fair to you. Don't enter into haggling or ask for a price unless you actually intend to buy if a fair price is agreed upon.
Ramadan - we travelled during Ramadan. If you intend to travel to Marrakech during this time be aware that many restaurants will close during the day because of fasting, so plan your eating in advance. Alcohol is hard to find at any time of year but doubly so during Ramadan. Try to be discreet about eating and drinking while you're walking around in the day out of respect to locals. Muslims will break fast at around 7pm each day, so the two hours before this tend to get quite busy as people start closing their businesses and begin travelling home. Travelling during this rush hour can be hectic and if you can avoid it it will make life easier for you. Attractions close earlier during Ramadan - generally aroud 3pm.
Overall, we throuroughly enjoyed our trip to Marrakech and our stay at the Riad Abbassia, I would stay there again anytime.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC