I chose AnaYela for the magic and the service, and both were delivered beautifully. I found the place on Tablet Hotels (always my first stop in the perpetual search for well-designed accommodations) and their review of the riad noted a staff "almost too lovely to be real," which I found to be a rather fitting description. The magic was quite breathtakingly present as well. The legend of Yela, the riad's namesake maiden, is hammered into the doors in silver and painted in artful Arabic calligraphy on the walls and the ceilings. The rooms are called chapters, there is a bedouin-style, tented "magic carpet tower" (where Yela received her first kiss and flew off above the rooftops of Marrakech with her lover), and the staff are all decked out in immaculate white and full of infallible graciousness. They really are almost too lovely to be real.
They have special drivers that are willing to navigate the impossibly narrow alleyways of the medina (which is not the done thing) in order to retrieve and redeposit you after taking you wherever you may wish to go. They give you a cellphone so that when (and I do mean when, not if) you become hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of the medina, you can call for help. They even moved the portable air conditioning unit from the office into our room after our own A/C went out after hours. Which reminds me, you really should get a room on the upper level, as the ground-floor rooms are not air conditioned at all.
The only slight glitch to do with the service was that they couldn't keep our dinner reservation in the magic carpet tower on the night of our arrival. I had arranged to have dinner waiting for us when we got in from the airport, and I had advised them that we expected to get there about 22:00. When we got in (via their own driver) at 22:30 our dinner was set up in another lovely area on the roof with a tent and a large table, and there was another couple in the magic carpet tower. We asked about it and were told that they couldn't hold the reservation because we were "so late." That was the only disappointment, and it really wasn't so bad. It just differed so tremendously from the rest of the service we received. If they'd been as spectacular about that as they were about everything else, they would have considered the standard wait time for customs (lengthier than anywhere else I've traveled) and calculated how long it usually takes for their driver to deliver guests coming in from the airport, and they would have known intuitively that we'd be half an hour later than I estimated! Really that's how en point they were when it came to every other service opportunity. So the bottom line is that I'm truly grateful that we were served a hot, delicious feast at ten-thirty at night by a wonderfully friendly and attentive waiter that we had all to ourselves for as long as we wished to linger. Plus we got to lounge like sultans in the magic carpet tower after dinner anyway!
Ultimately, I can't recommend this place highly enough. I'm a travel agent, and a very discerning guest when it comes to design and service, and Riad AnaYela was truly spellbinding in every way. The décor is luxe and earthy at the same time, full of both character and refinement, and it's hard to get both. The courtyard was completely sublime with white arches surrounding a cool blue plunge pool, white leather berber chairs, and mysterious ambient soundscapes playing quietly around the clock.
Breakfast was absolutely delightful. It's a sumptuous and splendid spread of yogurt, granola, fruit, pastries, bread, jams, juice, coffee, and tea, and it'll be waiting for you with a warm, welcoming smile whether you get up at six in the morning or at one in the afternoon. Value is a subjective thing, and I feel like I got plenty of it here. If you want an outsized and vaguely Moroccan-looking room in the swank part of the medina, and you're willing to sacrifice some of the romance, you can get loads more space for this kind of money, but AnaYela is truly one-of-a-kind, with a soul and a story, and the sort of immaculate attention to detail (in both design and service) that's not easy to come by, and that's what I look for in an unforgettable place to stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The AnaYela is a small 300 year old palace in the heart of the medina of Marrakech. The real sensation of the Anayela is its unique atmosphere and its extraordinary architecture. Real new luxury - special experiences for special guests. The Anayela has 3 rooms and 2 suites - each with a different design and all the services and comfort you need. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Anayela Hotel Marrakech