When in Morocco, there is no better place to stay than in a Riad or a Dar. Both are traditional Moroccan house mainly found in Marrakech, Fes, Tangier, Casablanca, etc. These houses are build based on Islam architecture that ensures privacy of the residents. You might notice that many old houses in Morocco does not have any windows facing the street, as everything is designed inward facing.
Both type of houses is known to have a rectangular shape, with a courtyard in the center. Often the center part is without roof. In a riad, the courtyard is a bit bigger and would have a garden, or a water source (could be a pool, fountain), and would also have trees planted. As for a dar, the size is a bit smaller and the courtyard is simply a small patio.
For our stay in Marrakech, we were browsing online and found this petit yet cozy riad called Le Bel Oranger. It is located just a few minutes away from Djema El Fna, and what would be better than that! And the riad is owned by a French couple who have been staying in Morocco for a long time. Upon arriving, my friends and I were a bit dazed. Since there was no sign in the front. Only a wooden door with a bell in the front. But out driver ensured us that we have arrived in the right place. And with just a few knocks, a young Moroccan lady opened the heavy door and welcomed us.
Don’t be fooled, although the façade was a bit plain, but not so in the inside. As we were walking passed the small reception desk, a man named Azis (the hotel manager) greeted us. He guided us to the courtyard and we were asked to sit before getting our papers ready for checked in. In the courtyard, there were 2 sets of tables & chairs complete with parasols are on one side, and on the other is a hanging chair as well as a few wrought iron chairs. In the middle, it has a small dipping pool that sort of felt like an oasis. Not to forget, there is a lovely orange tree planted near the pool. There is also a common room on the side, where we can listen to music, play games, or even watch TV.
As we were lounging by the pool, Azis offered us some mint tea. It is a local custom to welcome guests to their home. The mint tea is always freshly prepared and been brewed with a huge heap of sugar. It was a good remedy, especially after such a long trip. While sipping our teas, Azis was enthusiastically telling us how to get to Djema El Fna as well as about the tourist sites around old town Marrakech. Once we got all that sorted, including the check in, we head to our rooms.
We booked 1 double room & 1 triple room for the 5 of us. One is located on the second floor and the latter is on the ground floor. Each of the rooms are decorated with traditional weaved curtains, mostly with the color red and orange that represents sunrise and sunset. The rooms are OK in size and have an ensuite bathroom. Also, no need to worry, since all rooms have AC.
During the stay, we also got our breakfast in the riad. And we dined every morning in the roof top area. The breakfast was always grand! A variety of breads, cakes, cheese, and butter are served daily. Accompanied by some freshly squeezed orange juice that is so refreshing. Another good thing about it, is that we can request our breakfast time or if needed, we can also have it packed.
Another good thing about this riad, is we can also get dinner there. But, we need to order in the morning or from the day before. On our last day, we tried it out and it was amazing. The menu includes Potatoes with mint & butter, Kefta, and Raïb Maison (homemade yogurt). A perfect way to end our stay before continuing to our next destination.
*for a more convenient visit, asked for airport/station pick up arranged by the riad. It costs around 15€ per trip for upto 5 person.
*the riad can arrange for trips & excursions as well as half day tours.
*unfortunately, the riad doesn’t accept credit card payment. But you can pay in dirham/euro/us dollars.
*wifi is available through out the riad and smoking is solely allowed in outdoor area