I will start this review by stating that if we have originally booked the Riad Karmela, and stayed in the room we were finally given, then this review would quite probably have been for 5 stars. However this wasn’t the case.
Our original booking was for the Riad El Nour, a smaller Riad but part of the same group as the Karmela. One week before we were due to arrive we received an email stating that the Riad El Nour wasn’t available and were we prepared to stay at another Riad, the Riad Zineb. We were offered a free airport return and a bottle of wine for our inconvenience. We looked at the details for the Riad Zineb and it looked fine, so we accepted the offer.
Upon arrival at Marrakech airport we were met by the driver, a bit later than expected but no big deal, and driven to the Karmela. This is an adventure in itself, negotiating tiny streets, dodging the mopeds, people, donkeys and carts etc. As recommended elsewhere I would also advise this option is taken as the car cannot drive right up to the Karmela leaving a walk of a couple of minutes, if you were making your own arrangements it would be extremely difficult to find, although there are plenty of locals who would show you the way for a fee.
We were greeted at the Karmela by Bouchra (I believe) and given mint teas and pastries whilst having the local area explained to us, a useful map was also given to us with places marked for later reference. At this point we were told that our room at the Riad Zineb wasn’t ready, this later changed to there was nobody at the Zineb, to finally being told that a mistake had been made and we weren’t booked into the Zineb until the following night so we would have to stay at the Karmela for one night, although if we chose to continue our stay at the Karmela we would be upgraded to a junior suite.
The room we were given was situated on the roof terrace, quite a nice room with a tented appearance, although the bathroom could do with brightening up as it was quite gloomy with plaster coloured walls. It did get quite chilly in there overnight as it’s quite exposed on the roof, the air con could be used to give heat and I think there were extra blankets in the room too.
After an expedition into the local area we returned for some relaxation on the roof terrace which is a nice peaceful area and fortunately the sun was out too.
We had pre-arranged for our first night evening meal to be at the Riad which I must say was delicious, although at 25 euros per person it’s quite expensive going by what we paid at various restaurants in the following days. But as the quality and service were very good we enjoyed it.
The next morning we went down to breakfast which is served buffet style. There was plenty of choice, cereals, fruit, yoghurt, cheese, ham etc. Orange juice, tea, coffee etc etc. Fresh bread and pastries were also available. Breakfast was fine in our opinion.
After breakfast we enquired at the front desk as to when we would be moving rooms as previously discussed as we hadn’t been given any further information. We then found out that we would be moving to the Riad Zineb as there were no rooms available at the Karmela anymore! We weren’t happy about this as it meant packing everything up again and moving. We were offered a free hamman (which we never took advantage of) and given the choice of staying at the Riad Zineb or returning to the Karmela, and, having breakfast at the Zineb or Karmela. This break was meant to be relaxing!
Upon arrival at the Riad Zineb we found the owners to be cleaning the tiled floors and preparing it for us as it had been closed for a week. The Zineb is another nice Riad, much smaller than the Karmela. We were given a room on the ground floor beside the patio, plus front door and room keys. We then found out we were the only guests staying at the Riad Zineb.
We had decided to have breakfast the following morning at the Riad Karmela as we didn’t want to put the owners of the Riad Zineb to any trouble just doing breakfast for us two.
We spoke with Joel and agreed to return to the Karmela for our last two nights stay as we weren’t keen on staying at an empty Riad, although the total peace and quiet may appeal to some, to us it was too quiet.
The room we were then given at the Karmela was the junior suite Kaiss which overlooks the main patio with its own balcony. This was a lovely suite and would recommend it.
I must add that during all changes of Riads our baggage was transported by the Riad staff with no fuss.
For those not familiar with Marrakech, as we weren’t, it may come as a bit of a surprise as to the location of the Karmela and the route taken to access it. If people are expecting a touristy area then they’re in for a shock, it really is in the heart of the local community. We are well travelled but were still surprised at the maze of narrow streets and alleyways in the vicinity. The constant call of “it’s closed that way” by the locals hoping to show you another way for money loses its novelty very quickly too (p.s. the streets aren’t closed.) It took us a few goes to feel comfortable about finding our way to and from the Karmela, even with a map.
So overall the Riad Karmela is a lovely Riad, the Riad Zineb is also a lovely Riad, both with cool courtyards and nice roof terraces. It would have been nice to stay in one or the other for the duration of our stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The riad Karmela has 19 bedrooms and family appartments located within 3 houses and courtyards connecting together. You can also enjoy a hammam, massages, summer jacuzzi, large terasse. We are located 8 mn walk from the Pace Djemma El Fnaa and 1 mn from the souks. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riad Karmela Marrakech
- Riad Karmela Hotel Marrakech