NEW RIAD OPENING IN THE MEDINA
RIAD SAPPHIRE, a new, fabulous addition to the Marrakech riad scene, will have its official opening in March 2014.
Affordable chic — for an authentic experience in Marrakesh, come and stay at this very recently restored riad (small boutique hotel) located in the heart of the ancient city (medina) of Marrakesh. Airy, minimalist and perfectly positioned in the heart of the Medina, Riad Sapphire is a hip hangout and plugged-in place to stay. Operated around the idea of “authenticity and affordability”, it is ideal for city breaks, honeymoons, family stays, stylish hen parties, shopping trips, foodie breaks, special occasions and romantic getaways.
The twin sisters, Barbara and Beryl, former owners of two highly successful riads in Marrakech, have now completed the renovation of a third riad. With their great love for Moroccan architecture and great respect for its craftsmanship, they have ensured that the skills of local Marrakchi artisans have been put to good use. At the same time, they have added a modern twist to traditional design: lampshades were custom-ordered, woodwork was all handmade [including a very handsome lattice screen called a menzeh], fabrics were woven and made up into drapes, and a normally traditional metal railing was rendered in modern glass with the traditional design etched in the glass.
Akin to the first two riads, the twins have kept the cool, chic look with simple, elegant furnishings that have a touch of luxury, modern comforts and great service. They used the best of Moroccan craftsmanship and set out to interpret a pure form of Moorish architecture with clean lines and restrained décor. English-owned and managed and with English and French-speaking personnel, you get an authentic experience of living in the old city of Marrakech–a different environment to that found in modern hotels. The owners speak English, French, German and Arabic. The aim is to provide a welcoming refuge after the tumult and excitement of the souks (local markets) and the main square and to offer good value.
The rooms are individually decorated with air conditioning and heating for your comfort. All rooms have private bathrooms, two with bathtubs. All rates include a host of goodies: freshly-prepared breakfast; all local tourist taxes; VAT included; bottle of mineral water in your room upon arrival; free safe in your room; hairdryer in each room; organic toiletries by local Moroccan companies, natus or Nectarôme; free WiFi; mint tea and Moroccan pastries served upon arrival. Guests are offered the use of a mobile phone during your stay (against a returnable deposit of 100 dirhams). They offer reasonably-priced 3-course meals, and from the many reviews from the previous riads, they are much appreciated by clients. You can enjoy relaxing massages and other beauty treatments in your room. Riad Sapphire has a spa area, with a private hammam and massage/beauty treatment room — a lovely treat and an authentic Moroccan experience. The riad organizes transfers at the airport/train station/bus station to ensure a smooth and hassle-free arrival. The riad also helps arrange tours, excursions, restaurant reservations — a general concierge service offered with a smile. Book via our secure site, www.riadsapphire.com or call our reservations agent, Yvonne at +33 33 663 657 263. You can book individual rooms or the whole riad — the riads are a great place for family reunions, meeting up with friends, celebrating special occasions, chilling out or experiencing the magical city of Marrakesh — fabulous break to experience the extraordinary.
Riads in Marrakech
We love Marrakesh — it’s a great mix of exotic and familiar. It’s also a tremendously creative city — blending the input of both Eastern and Western design and the skills from both parts of the world. You can design something yourself and have Moroccan craftsmen execute the design.
We have done a series of video vignettes on workshops in and around Riad Sapphire on the various skills being practiced and still handed down from father to son within the city walls of Marrakech. We would be delighted to have you as our guests in our riads as you explore Marrakesh. Marrakech is a truly fascinating city — a blend of African, Arabic and European cultures as well as modern and mediaeval living. It is buzzing with life against the backdrop of the magnificent Atlas Mountains. There are few cities left in the world where there is such a high level and diversity of craftsmanship and creativity as in modern Marrakech.
A combination of modern design with traditional craftsmanship has led to a whole new array of goods on sale in the local markets. This evolution of design is exciting to watch and learn about. A great place for shopping — with a choice of inexpensive items as well as upmarket quality goods, uniquely Moroccan. Some suggestions. You have a great choice of restaurants: traditional Moroccan cuisine, French cuisine, fusion, Italian cuisine, Thai cuisine…. new restaurants keep opening up all the time. It’s great to try them out. Restaurants are often located in beautifully renovated riads or in modern buildings with a design edge. Restaurant suggestions. The night club scene is lively and there are many cultural events happening all the time in Marrakesh: art exhibitions, a film festival, street arts and performances. The main square, known locally as ‘La Place’ for Place Jemaa el fna’, bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers and musicians. By night food stalls open in the square turning it into a huge busy open-air restaurant. See our blog for more information
So what is a riad?
Riads (also spelled as riyad, ryad or ryadh depending on how it’s transliterated) are town homes with courtyards featuring a garden that may be small or large depending on the wealth of the owner. They are contained within the ramparts of the old city of Marrakesh where the streets are small lanes and alleyways with no formal layout — meandering around the medina is one of the experiences not to be missed. The grander riads are mixed in with more humble dwellings and from the outside they all look similar – wealth is not on display. Really grand ones were owned by members of the royal family, ministers or wealthy traders. Most authentic riyads are over two hundred years old, perhaps even older, and if not well maintained are in the process of disintegrating. Fortunately, the skills that made these old homes special — the domes, the sculpted plasterwork, the ornate wood carvings, the traditional patterns of metal grillwork and the beauty of tadelakt — are alive and well today. In the very recent past and continuing today, many people have discovered that these beautiful riads can be restored to their former beauty and perhaps even embellished, making arches where none existed before or perhaps adding fireplaces to take off the slight chill to the air in the cooler months. Riyads can also be made less ornate — stripping away elements considered today over-the-top. It’s a matter of personal taste. The best riads are restrained in their decoration such that a harmonious state of mind is a gift of the surroundings — a wonderful contrast to the tumult and exuberant life outside the doors of the riad. This process of rehabilitating these wonderful ancient dwellings has brought new life to the medina (translated literally from Arabic as ‘town’ or ‘city’ but known in this context as the old city of Marrakesh). The old city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Patrimoine Mondiale) in 2008.