13 Derb el Merstane, Zaouin el Abbassia
Buzz trips opinion
A stunning 200 year old riad, beautifully restored and impeccably maintained in the residential area of the Marrakech medina, a ten minute walk to the souks and 25 minutes to the famous Jamaa El F’na square. Riad Merstane is hidden away in a maze of alleys and entering from the medina is like walking into a perfumed and tranquil oasis.
After dark, candles and carved Moroccan lamps cast soft lights and dancing shadows over the courtyard creating the perfect romantic setting in which to enjoy a sumptuous dinner prepared by Rashida, the house cook. Every time we arrived back at Riad Merstane after exploring the city or from excursions, we were met with warm smiles, mint tea and almond pastries which made us feel very much at home. The riad not only provided a stylish and extremely comfortable refuge from the heat and chaos of the city, but also a central point from which to organise our Morocco itineraries using the help and know how of the house manager Rachid and the owners Alan and Kate.
Five individually styled, en suite bedrooms are set around a garden courtyard where jasmine, bougainvillea and ivy drape the balconies and cascade from the roof terrace in an explosion of pink and white. We stayed in Jasmine on the first floor where we had a canopied, four poster bed, hand painted Oriental-style wardrobe and cupboards, and traditional en suite bathroom with walk-in shower. Air conditioning provided respite from the sultry September nights and cane chairs on the balcony provided a grandstand view over the courtyard accompanied by birdsong.
Every care has been taken to maintain the traditional Moroccan style of the riad, keeping original fixtures where possible and adding locally crafted furniture and beautiful soft furnishings. A traditionally styled living room with cushion filled sofas has excellent WiFi reception, a library of fiction and reference books, a wood burning stove for cosy winter nights and a CD player stacked with an eclectic range of music from classical to Berber chill out. The large roof terrace has views over the rooftops of the medina to the distant Atlas Mountains and is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast before the sun gets too hot, to top up the tan or to catch the last of the day’s rays as temperatures cool to perfect.
Rachid can arrange all manner of travel and provide you with all the local knowledge you need to ensure you get the most from your time in Marrakech. He even has a hand drawn map and will accompany you on your first outing to acquaint you with the medina, or to take you into the new city. Constantly just a text message away, Rachid is your personal Marrakech life jacket who will keep you from drowning in Arabic or confusion.
Prices in Riad Merstane begin at €46 per night for room and breakfast.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+