So here we are!! Marrakech!! the Jewel of the Middle East. After treking through Europe we decided that a trip to Marrakech was in order. We needed to rest and restore our energy. when we arrived our driver was waiting for us and with a warm and welcoming smile. We drove through the night, surrounded by the whirring of vespa motors all around us ( the chosen transport). As we neared the Medina our driver gave us some history and pointers about life in the Medina. This was quite helpful. when we arrived at our location we had to park appoximately 75 meters from the Riad. Once we emerged from our Van we were suddenly emersed in what can only be described as a scene from an Indiana Jones movie. A porter was waitng for us and quickly loaded our luggage into a donkey cart. (no donkey though) and he and our driver accompanied us to the Riad. Even though it was very close the high pace of the Derb and the activity at the Souks would have made it difficult for us to navigate on our own. Once we arrived at the Riad you could immidiately see that security was high, as you had to be buzzed in under the watchful eye of the hotel staff. Once inside, we were warmly greeted by Rasheed. He was the attendant and actually greeted us by name!! He knew our itinerary so he was already aware that we might be exhausted from our trip. He welcomed us and showed us to our rooms and suggested a night cap of Morrocan Mint Tea and suggested a cold shower before we turned in.
The next morning we awoke from our well deserved slumber. The bedding was more than adequate and the bed had ample pillows. Rasheed was already busy along with his staff preparing breakfast, He guided us to the rooftop terrace and showed us the table we would be assigned to for the next 3 days. He brought out an array of fresh bread, jellies, yogurt, cheese and fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. As we started with this, he offered the house specialty, a cheese omelet. After we enjoyed our leisurely breakfast, we were greeted by Abdul, the Riad manager who gave us a map and pointers on how to navigate the the souks. he gave us a couple of bottles of cold water and reminded us to stay hydrated as we would be spending the day exploring the Medina. before we left he showed us the menu for the night's dinner which was essential to order in the morning to allow time for the chef to purchase the ingredients, which she spent the day preparing and slow cooking in "tajeen" which is traditional stone cookware used by Morrocans.
Our 1st day was nothing short of amazing. everyone we met was warm and friendly. Each "souk" we visited had bigger than life shop owners who jumped right in for an engaging negotiation for what ever we looked at. Anytime you visit one of these "souks" be ready to negotiate your price. always be prepared to walk away if you can't negotiate the price down to at least 1/2 of the initial price. I was always more than happy to pay a little more when the the shop owner made the experience a little more entertaining.
On day 2 it was all about the "Marrakech Express" a featured spa treatment loacated at Noura, the Riad's own spa. The spa is well appointed and literally just 5 steps from the main entrance of the Riad. The Women who run the spa are true professionals with many years of combined experience. Once you have a "Hammam" you will never want any other type of massage. These lovely women pamper with you and make you feel like the royalty the "Hammam" was originally offered to. we liked as they giggled as we gave sighs of approval as they moved through this gentle and ancient ritual. Once given time to relax we were escorted to the 2nd floor to a warm massage room, filled with exotic scents of Argon and mint. The Women did not dissapoint. These petite masseuse's knew how to manipulate and work every tight muscle in our travel weary bodies, always politely asking in French, if we were comfortable. At the end of our hour long service which cost a mere 500DH they allowed us to rest and at no time made us feel rushed. Once we finished we were escorted back to the Riad where Rasheed had a pot of steaming hot and sweetend Morrocan Mint tea waiting for us by the pool where we soaked and reflected on some highlights of our trip. Later we took a nap in our room which was cooled by a modern Air conditioner, (the only modern amenity we required) This was essential to helping us relax, no T.V. no phone, just us and our thoughts surrounded by the gentle scent of incense and the music of the song bird caged on the terrace. After being lulled awake by the chants of Ramadan which were broadcast throughout the Medina over a loud speaker, we strolled up stairs and relaxed in the Jacuzzi for a while and nibbled on fresh dates, figs and a selection of sweet breads and more Morracan sweet tea. After an hour Rasheed summoned us to take our place at our table and presented us with a fabulous gourmet dinner the chef had been working all afternoon to prepare. We noticed the last item was Kabobs prepared on an open flame stone pot. It filled the air with a smoky and spicy scent that made our stomachs growl with anticipation. After dinner as we sat around in our comfortably appointed living room and planned our next day, Philipe, the Riad owner came over to greet us and make sure his staff was meeting all our needs. He was a gentleman of a past era who spoke with a Belgian accent. He assured us that anything we needed could be arranged through either him or Abdul the manager. We had considered venturing out to see a traditional show in the new city, but the warmth of the staff at the Riad, was too enticing to pass up. so we chose to stay in each night.
On our 3rd day we awoke to the gentle sounds of the Ramadan chants, and after yet another beautifully presented breakfast we strolled to the Spa and enjoyed a facial and foot rub. This was excellent preparation to spend the day exploring the souks. Only this time we sampled some amazing foods prepared with some of the most exotic spices ever tasted at a variety of places recommended by Abdul. We enjoyed meeting people and emersing our selves in the Morrocan culture.
Finally, although we had many choices of Riads and large hotels, the Riad lena was an excellent choice. For anyone wanting a traditional Morroccan get away, this is indeed the best place in the Medina. Keep in mind that whilst staying in the Medina one should be prepared to turn off their cell phone and ipad or computer. It is the best way to experience Marrakech. Of course if you need to peek at your email or text messages, WiFi is available.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Riad Lena & Spa welcome you to their house, ideally situated in the Medina near the DAR BACHA Palace and eight minutes from the markets and Place Jeema el Fna. The riad has been traditionally renovated with much thought given to your comfort. The riad consists of 10 air-conditioned bedrooms, furnished in pure Moroccan style. All rooms look on to the patio and the swimming pool permitting you to cool down after sunbathing on the terrace with views of the High Atlas mountains. A first class riad in the heart of the Medina and markets, with terraces, a swimming pool and easy car access.. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riad Lena Hotel Marrakech