The beauty of the intimate riads in Morocco is that you so often feel like you are staying in someone's home rather than a faceless hotel. I have had the good fortune to stay in several riads in Morocco, and I do have an absolute favourite, but I still like to try other riads for a few nights before returning to my No1. On this trip I decided to start my trip with a stay at La Sultana as many people rate it the best riad in Marrakech - so, I had very high expectations. Upon making my reservation I noted a small detail - La Sultana
charge to collect you at the airport - no other riad has ever done so. Plus, La
Sultana is possibly the most expensive riad there is and take a 50% deposit up front.
Anyway, I went ahead with my booking - was collected at the airport - and without doubt upon arrival at the riad, and being shown around, it is a beautiful riad full of artisnal
handiwork (though I have stayed at riads more immaginativley and creatively decorated which I have been featured in books or magazines such as World of Interiors). But for me, there the experience ended. My suite certainly lacked any wow-factor and verged on the very ordinary and uninspiring.
The riad has a very nice enclosed pool area, but even in low season and with low occupancy there can easily be a race to get a sun lounger and it can feel claustrophobic - I absolutely hate to think what it would be like in high season (though in fairness that must be the same with most of the riads). Of course there are plenty of other places to sit, especially on the roof, but everyone wants to be by the pool. I have read some reviews which mention the wonderful roof top pool - let's tell the truth, it is the size of a large bathtub, but longer. It's unlikely you would want to share it with a stranger.
Sadly our relaxation by the pool - every day - was marred by one man who seemed to think it perfectly acceptable to have his music playing on his ipad and ruined the peace and tranquility. Further, due to the influx of rich Russians who are now travelling to all the hot spots, but have yet to learn any social etiquette, grace or respectful manners when in the company of others, they seem to think it acceptable to shout the whole day across the pool or courtyards to each other. Riads are supposed to be a place of tranquility NOT a theme park!
Over all I felt like La sultana was more like a hotel than an intimate riad. There were certainly none of the typical little luxuries of many other riads such as laying on a free afternoon tea (not even free Morrocan mint tea which you get just about everywhre) or a free laundry service. Plus housekeeping were very good at taking things away, but not replacing them. Certainly breakfast was an absolute shambles every morning - can we have napkins? butter? cutlery? preserves? And not one decent coffee or tea during our whole stay depite repeatedly asking for very hot water - plus, at this riad's prices I expect some good loose leaf tea in a pot, not an inferior brand tea bag on a saucer with a luke warm pot of water. So the bottom line is that I still have my No1 riad, and I wouldn't stay at La Sultana again, and I definitely wouldn't recommend it to any friends. The riad itself is beautiful (as is the spa) but the rest is just perfunctory and offers a very hit-or-miss service. But, credit where it's due, Mayumi and Khalib on reception are excellent, and a couple of the younger staff who serve dinner in the evenings on the terrace have that magic smile and twinkle which is found more in abundance in other riads, but that's about it.
Sadly, I suspect I shall remember La Sultana for the wrong reasons rather than the good ones, and I have to ask, why is this one of the most expensive riads in Marrakech which offers so little to justify the price? I am only left with one question when reading many of the posted reviews of La Sultana that speak of it in glowing terms, and that is, have you stayed at any other riads in Morrocco for comparison? If this had been my first riad stay, and I had nothing to compare with, then I probably would have been impressed. But I am only too aware there are other riads that give you a far better service, and treat you to a far better Morrocan experience and good hospitality, and are cheaper to stay at.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Near the Royal Palaces, La Sultana is over a combination of 5 riads. Featured in Elle Decoration for its gorgeous interiors, this member of SLH is a stylish retreat set in flower-filled courtyards. Elegant and sophisticated, each of the individually decorated rooms and suites captures the essence of old Marrakech with vaulted ceilings, antiques and objects d’art. Guests can also enjoy the spa, an outdoor heated pool and a fantastic roof-top terrace. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- La Sultana Marrakech Hotel Marrakech
- Hotel La Sultana