We just returned from a 10-Day Adventure In The Kingdom Of Morocco and it is safe to say that this beautiful #bucketlist destination exceeded all expectations and we made some of the best memories as we explored this magnificent country in North Africa.
Riad Dar Ten in Marakkech (the Red City) was our first introduction to the country. It is ideally located in the heart of the red city and is within walking distance from the old town and is close to many tourist attractions – Djemaa el Fna Square, Koutoubia Mosque, souks, museums, and restaurants and cafes.
Staying in a traditional Riad and spending a few nights taking in the tranquility and peacefulness of a Riad is an absolute must when you visit Morocco, it is an experience in itself and like none other! It should most definitely be the #1 thing to do in Morocco and no visit to the country is complete without staying in one!
But what is a Riad you ask?
Riads were traditional Moroccan multi-story, multi-generational family homes of the wealthy located in the traditional medinas. They are now converted into boutique hotels and guesthouses which host tourists like you and me.
A traditional Riad is characterized by an open-air courtyard/garden with a fountain or a pool at the center of the home with rooms on all four sides. A central courtyard is a place for people to lounge, meet, and/or eat. Most Riads do not have large windows facing the outside, they only have a small exterior window, but the windows in the rooms face the open-ceiling courtyard.
And more often than not you can never tell how beautiful and elaborate a Riad is on the inside when you look at the small main door facing the outside world. This design and style support Islamic principles of privacy and inward reflection. The walls of the Riads are adorned with tadelakt plaster (waterproof plaster) zellige tiles (geometrically patterned mosaics), and Arabic calligraphy of quotes from the Quran.
After more than 24hrs of traveling (can’t help but ask every.single.time, ‘why is Seattle so dang far from everywhere in the world’, ugh!?) we couldn’t wait to get to our Riad and crash in bed (all 3 of us had barely gotten any sleep on the way in).
Note that most Riads in Morocco seem to be hidden within a labyrinth of little alleys and it can be difficult to get to the Riad with the help of Google maps, so call ahead and make sure that someone picks you up, at least the first time.
We had booked a taxi in advance from the airport to our Riad (something I highly recommend you do). We quietly sat in the taxi and admired the beauty of the bustling city from the comfort of our car as we rode from the airport to the Riad while watching our baby boy enjoy his ride as he flipped through the pages of his favorite shucks bukka (aka Trucks book) without being strapped in a car seat.
This ride was a quick one, about 15 mins. We were told that cars don’t go all the way to the Riad (narrow alleys) and a porter will be here to help us with our luggage. As soon as our taxi stopped a porter quickly loaded his cart and we were on our way to the Riad and we soon began to understand the ways of this new city we had just set foot in. The walk from where the car stopped to our Riad was about 10-15 mins.
Once we reached Riad Dar Ten, we were greeted with sweet smiles, a plate of traditional sweet treats, and sweet mint tea. Notice the theme here? Sweet!
Riad Dar Ten is quite lovely and charming. The interiors are beautiful and decorated in neutral tones reflecting the Moroccan style. We took in the beauty of the Riad and adored the aesthetics of the place as we sat down across from the pond in the courtyard and sipped on some sweet mint tea. But that didn’t last much longer than one sip (at least not for the hubs), did you forget we have a toddler in tow, he was too eager to run around and explore the place by himself (haha what’s new!?).
We then quickly headed up to our room, dropped off our luggage, freshened up, and do you remember me say something about wanting to crash in bed, haha, who was I kidding?? as always, our excitement of being in a different part of the world got the better of us and we set out to explore Marakkech at 8 pm in the night and much to our surprise, this is a city that never sleeps too (much like New York City). The city was up and about even at midnight, something Vinay and I absolutely love about any place we visit (thanks to our NYC roots :)).
We started to fall in love with Morocco as we walked through the souks, grabbed some dinner, and introduced our son to what would become a ritual during our time in Morocco, chokate milk (Hot Chocolate), him demanding a cuppa as soon as we walked into any restaurant.
Then it was time for us to head back to the Riad and retire for the night (well, it was already way past midnight, so I don’t know what to call that hehe).
For how long we had traveled and given how late it was when we went to bed we woke up rather fairly early in the morning. Quickly got ready, and we headed downstairs to grab breakfast in the courtyard. Breakfast was a mix of simple continental items and a traditional Moroccan pancake that we quite enjoyed.
After which we promptly headed out the door for another day of fun exploring the red city on foot…
Which, again, was the best part about Riad Dar Ten, its proximity to everything. And yet, this Riad feels isolated from the outside world which you can come back to for some calm and quiet after a busy day of exploring the city, making this your own little private haven in the middle of the craziness of the souks and the medinas of Marrakesh.
However, the downside of Riad Dar Ten was that the people on-site did not speak English and we were unsuccessful at making them understand what we wanted. The language barrier also meant that we missed out on having some interesting conversations with the people running the Riad and hence couldn’t learn more about the background/history of Riad itself. On one instance the person on the phone sounded rude, it was probably the lack of understanding each other, I am not sure.
While this place is ideal for solo travelers and couples, this was on the smaller side for us as we were traveling with a toddler and felt quite cramped. Though the room itself is clean, the bathroom space and the bath towels and such could certainly use an upgrade. It lacks a door between toilet/bathroom and the sleeping area, then again, it might be a Moroccan Riad thing? Not sure.
All in all, we had a pleasant stay at Riad Dar Ten and a nice introduction to Moroccan way of living.
“The Greatest Legacy We Can Leave Our Children Is Happy Memories.”