Barely two minutes' walk from the hustle and bustle of Djama El Fna, the main square in the old part of Marrakesh with all its noise, but what a lovely little riad with lots of unusual touches and great staff. All the house walls down these little alleys are very high and you haven't a clue what you're going to find till you're inside the big thick door.
Inside, we found a very clean guesthouse and the staff are extremely welcoming and friendly. Apart from their own Moroccan dialect, they speak English, French, Spanish, Italian - I think they've picked up a lot of languages over the years from their guests.
it is also very quiet inside, even though the central atrium of the hotel is open to the elements. You can't hear any noise from Djama El Fna - although, as always, you can hear the muezzin at 4am if you're a light sleeper like me!! Didn't bother me though, it all adds to the atmosphere of your holiday in a Muslim country.
The rooms have very high ceilings, windows with shutters and everything inside is built in stone - even the bed base is stone with a very firm mattress on top, excellent for those sore backs. The standards of cleanliness are very high and I can hardly even begin to say how good the cooking is. It's really home cooking as there is one lady, Hayat, who makes dinner and you have to book this in the morning before you go out for the day. But the smells of spices cooking permeates the air during the day and your tastebuds are left tingling till dinner time comes along!
Breakfast and dinner can be taken on the roof terrace in the sunshine and are very hearty. We loved the lemon chicken, the salad starters with peppers and aubergines, the beef tagine - we really can't praise the cooking here highly enough. And, if you so wish, Hayat will give you a cooking lesson and tell you the best blends of spices to use.
Our only disappointment with this riad was that the swimming pool is more like a deep paddling pool and we weren't really able to splash around in it - we never went any further than to sit on the edge after a day slogging around the sights and soak our tired feet! It's right on the ground floor, so even doing that is a wee bit embarrassing!
We were amazed at the number of TV channels available too (I caught a cold and was laid up for a day watching telly!). There are literally hundreds, but very few that you'd ever want to watch! The best were Al Jazeera, the English-language news channel and BBC News, but most of the other channels were in Italian, German or Spanish - surprisingly few in French. Many of the stations pump out religious material hour after hour, day after day, but amazingly for a Muslim country, there is no TV censorship so they even have freely available adult channels!
Ilham and Abdul at Riad La Croix Berbere were extremely helpful, Omar too (but he's very shy!) and Ilham was happy to organise excursions for us and help in any way he could. As with a lot of tourism industry staff, these guys are highly educated but can't find work in their own fields (for example, Abdul is a History graduate) and they turn to the hotel trade for work. They are a delight to talk to and told us lots of stories about Morocco, the Berber people and so on.
If it weren't for the fact that we probably wouldn't want to return to Marrakesh, we would definitely want to return to this hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A 2 minutes de la célèbre place Jemâa-el-Fna et du Minaret de la Koutoubia... N'hésitez à pousser la porte de ce ryad... C'est dans le quartier El ksour (ksour pluriel de ksar qui veut dire palais) que se trouve ce charmant ryad. Son emplacement, vous permettra de profiter de l'ambiance des souks et de l'agitation de la place, mais également de l'attrait du quartier européen de Guéliz (10 mn à pieds) On vous proposera de prendre un verre de thé au bord du bassin, sur la terrasse, ou dans le salon marocain au coin de la cheminée.... ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riad La Croix Berbere Hotel Marrakech