Hidden down a winding narrow alley, in the heart of the Medina, is Riad Farnatchi, a beautifully restored guesthouse with perfect Moroccan details
After a frustrating journey to Marrakech (thank you delayed flights and long custom queues) we had arrived to this colorful and chaotic city. Once we passed through customs we were whisked away by our private driver and on our way to our first stop - Riad Farnatchi.
I had read countless times, that staying in a Riad is really the best way to start and understand the beauty of Moroccan design and culture. So when I saw that Riad Farnatchi was privately owned (as most Riad’s are), was located in the Medina and had a soft spot for design, I knew we had to stay here. I was enchanted by their colorful pictures of tiles adorning the walls, the intricate carvings and the feeling that this Riad, would be a peaceful comfort, hidden from the chaos just outside the walls. It didn’t disappoint!
As soon as we entered our suite the feelings of frustration and exhaustion immediately dissolved. We were standing in what felt like our own private residence. Through the front door was a simple, yet inviting private balcony, overlooking the small courtyard, that further led on to the sleeping quarters.
Our actual room had a large sitting area, complete with a fireplace and small desk area in front of the bed. The design was simple, with the perfect amount of details to make the face feel like home. Bright woven rugs hid the floor, and heavy curtains laid over the rod iron windows, making the space perfect to rest in.
We had a large bathroom, with a soaking tub and beautiful shower that felt like a small Hammam. The dome shape of the brick ceiling and the lack of strong lights, was the perfect way to wash away the airport. A selection of Molton Brown amenities lined the shower and after a really long hot shower, we were ready to call it a day.
The sounds of motorbikes and the hustle of the Medina was non-existent and although we were right in the center, it felt like we were far away hidden in the mountains. The hotel was fully booked during our stay, yet you would never know it. It really is the perfect place for travelers who prefer privacy.
Dining at Riad Farnatchi
We ended up eating at our Riad several times throughout our stay, not only because the food was fantastic but the ambiance was so incredibly appealing…especially after a busy day dodging mules, motorbikes and hawkers in the old Medina. Our private balcony overlooking the orange tree filled courtyardwas the perfect space to devour the fresh dishes. Hours slipped past us as we sat in the peace and quiet and feasted on deliciously simplistic dishes: a fresh salad served with cucumbers, tomatoes and eggs, a traditional chicken tagine served with lemons and olives and a heavenly plate of fresh vegetables. Simple yet complex and completely gratifying!
We found ourselves coming back to the Riad during lunchtime as well, for a quick break from exploring. With options like Nems Crevettes (Moroccan style spring rolls), chicken sandwiches and juicy chicken served with Moroccan salad, we had plenty of filling options to choose from. At 150 Dirhams per dish for lunch, the prices are a little expensive but the peace, quiet & delicious meals are worth it.
Breakfast was another amazing meal during our stay. Every morning, we would request to be served on the rooftop, where we could hear the city begin to wake up. A beautiful spread of Moroccan pastries, breads, jams and honey were served, all accompanied by local yogurt, fruits and various hot dishes. No massive buffet here :)
What To Do
Located in the old medina, Riad Farnatchi is within walking distance to most major sights. The souks are about a five minute walk away and pour out onto Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square. Make sure that one of the evenings during your stay, you experience the “changing” of the square. As the sun begins to set, Jemaa el-Fna is transformed into a bustling square, full of food stalls and plenty of hawkers. The snake charmers and monkey exploiters seem to disappear and are replaced with stall after stall of delicious smelling food…it’s the perfect place to try all those different Moroccan dishes you’ve heard about: Goats head or snails anyone?
For the best views of the square during sunset, head to the top of Glacier Cafe and sit back and enjoy the views. In order to access the top floor, you will be forced to pay 30 dirhams for a cold drink and mingle amongst hoards of tourists, but the views are totally worth it!
There is so much to see and do in Marrakesh that you definitely won’t get bored. Whether you decide to visit some of the older palaces, navigate the souks, or indulge in a Hammam, don’t be afraid to head out and get lost in the winding streets of this hectic colorful town. Just make sure you have a map and know where the Riad is…you will be fine.
For A Bit of Relaxation
Anyone who has been to Marrakech, will most likely tell you that the city can be a bit of a sensory overload. You might get lost a few times, you’ll definitely have to ward off persistent hawkers and all while trying to navigate your way around. So if you’re looking for a bit of relaxation, Riad Farnatchi has you covered. Aside from the soothing areas to relax in, they have an in-house masseuse that can work out all your knots and kinks in one blissful hour.
Tucked away in the corner of the house, is a dark, dimly lit room with lingering smells of Patchouli and other exotic oils. Dark panels of billowy fabric line the walls and sitting pristinely in the center is a single massage table. With his expert skills, my masseuse was able to sense exactlywhere my body needed attention. In a series of kneads and rubs, he managed to work out all my knots and kinks, leaving me relaxed and refreshed. My only regret, is that I didn’t partake in a Hammam treatment during our visit.
For more information about Riad Farnatchi make sure to visit their website: