Arch and I had a week in Marrakech in May 2011 staying at the beautiful Riad Sekkat. Apart from our first night we had the entire Riad to ourselves. The Riad is within the old walled part of the city, the Medina, so we were able to easily walk around to visit most of the sites. To describe the Medina as hustling and bustling is a gross understatement. It absolutely teems with life. At first this can be a bit overwhelming, but I found it all fascinating and really loved it. Having the tranquil oasis of Riad Sekkat within the Medina was fantastic. It meant that if I needed a 'Nanna nap' in the afternoon, or a break from people watching, it was only a quick walk back to the sanctuary of the Riad. Bliss.
Riad Sekkat is decorated in traditional style with great taste, refinement and attention to detail. Our room was air-conditioned and also had a fan. From the roof-top terrace we could see I think 6 mosques. It was fun in the evenings watching people unobserved from the roof-top. We were able to connect our laptop to make use of the unlimited wifi access. Whilst I didn't make full use of the plunge-pool, I did enjoy sitting on the edge paddling my tired feet in the cool water (sometimes with a gin and tonic).
Khalid and Najah came during the day to prepare our meals, clean the rooms etc. It was fantastic opportunity for me to practice my French. We chose to have our evening meals at the Riad so that we could enjoy authentic Moroccan cuisine. As a bonus, Khalid would show us, well Arch actually, the secrets of Moroccan cuisine. Given that Arch has no French and Khalid little English, there was a lot of gesticulating to explain things and laughter. Khalid did have to work extra hard on Arch's presentation of the food. Khalid would carefully rearrange the Arch's disarray of vegetables on top of the couscous so that they were evenly placed and pleasing to look at. Every morning for breakfast we had different types of freshly made breads in addition to other delicacies.
Initially we planned to visit other cities and towns but we found there was so much to see and do in Marrakech that we actually only did a one-day trip with Khalid to the edge of the Atlas mountains. From my first email enquiry to Valérie, who owns Riad Sekkat, I knew that we were on to 'a good thing'. Valérie didn't only answer the questions I had but pre-empted what I was going to ask. She was so helpful, friendly and professional, yet personable all rolled together. During our time in the Riad Khalid and Najah attended our every need. They even organised an in-house massage for Arch with gorgeous 20 year-old girl, a visit to a true, non-touristy hammam for me (not for the faint-hearted - although I have never felt so clean and refreshed) and when I mentioned I wanted to buy things or look at something, Khalid was happy to oblige. Valérie, Khalid and Najah went out of their way to personally ensure that our trip was memorable, exciting, and revealing.
I strongly recommend that if you can, visit Marrakech and stay at Riad Sekkat. Visiting this francophone country has really opened up my eyes and made me realise that I can use my French beyond France metropole.
- w: www.riad-sekkat.com/index_en.html
- e: firstname.lastname@example.org