Tag Archives: Articles About Marrakech

The organic toiletries in Riad Sapphire and Spa

Aromatic toiletries

shampoo bottles, organic products, riad ariha, riad chi-chi, MarrakechMany of our clients are delighted with the toiletries provided in Riad Sapphire and Spa. So we thought we would write a little bit about them. We order the shampoo and shower gel from a company called Nectarôme because they use all-organic products, plus they smell so nice! We found out about them at a trade fair – at the time we purchased a long block of glycerine-based soap shaped like a loaf of bread that we cut into smaller pieces. Months later that soap still had a powerful and wonderful aroma of lemon verbena so we knew it was good quality. On our last trip to Marrakech, we decided to go and visit their organic garden that is located in a small village in the Ourika valley. We wondered at first if we’d come to the right place as we lurched from one pothole to another in the narrow village street. But we had, and tucked away in the village was this wonderful perfumed garden – cleverly organized with patches of rosemary, verbena, geranium and other aromatic plants. We were absolutely entranced with masses of tiny pinkish butterflies that hovered above. We purchased some wonderful Moroccan oil – from the argan tree – that is supposed to banish all free radicals and give you a wrinkle-free skin. Our skin certainly drinks it up and feels great. We see it advertised on the internet and in magazines – but you can get it much cheaper in Marrakech!

Nectarome gardens near Marrakech, used in Riad Ariha

So if you come to visit us in riad Sapphire and Spa, we can organize a day trip to the Ourika valley and include this organic garden. If you just prefer to purchase the products, we also have them for sale in the riad, in beautiful hand-crafted bottles with tassels on.

 

 

 

Visit our websites at www.riadsapphire.com

Cool Marrakech

Marrakech – a fascinating city

Marrakech is a fascinating ancient city with a great blend of ancient and modern, Eastern and Western cultures, making it a highly interesting and attractive destination. At the same time, it can be daunting if you are new to the city and don’t know where to start. Help is at hand!

We are twin sisters who own two riads in the Medina – a third is currently under construction. We fell in love with Marrakech and its wonderful Moorish architecture on our first visit many years ago. Over the past 8 years we have watched the development of Marrakech and have to come to know the city as Marrakchis. We shall be writing our blog regularly to keep you up-to-date and passing on new “hot” tips – e.g. where to go, new restaurants, entertainment, art exhibitions, Film Festival, spas, where to shop etc. Marrakech is a vibrant city and new things are happening all the time – so watch this space ….”

Tips for a pleasant stay in Marrakesh

marjorelle gardens, Marrakech, Yves St. Laurent

What to wear

Check the temperature for the time of year you are arriving in Marrakech so that you bring the correct clothing. For the months from November to March it is also advisable to take a rain jacket, as it can rain.

In the hot summer months wearing light, loose, cotton clothing is advised. A hat or turban is a must to protect the head against the heat and sun.

In autumn and spring a light jacket or fleece is recommended; the evenings can be quite cool. Although it may be sunny and warm during the day, evenings are often cool requiring a wrap or jacket.

In winter, warm clothing is a must.

If you are going to the desert during the winter months, please note that the temperatures drop considerably and you will need winter layers to stay warm at night and early in the mornin1215-1g.

 

Dress Code

While Morocco welcomes all visitors, it is an Islamic country and following cultural standards of modesty is advisable to prevent problems during your stay.

Wearing short skirts, short pants, and tight clothing is not recommended – especially in small towns and rural areas. Legs and shoulders are considered private body parts in Morocco and should be kept covered.

So as not to get hassled, we advise women travelling on their own to dress modestly. You will see tourists wearing all kinds of skimpy outfits and it is tolerated, but it is easier to do if you’re in a group.

Safety

Marrakech is generally safe and violent crime is not considered a major problem.

Pick-pocketing can occur, so it is best to follow common sense travel safety tips such as keeping your valuables in a safe place and travelling in groups. Dress conservatively and respect the local culture to avoid problems.

The government is very keen to promote tourism and have introduced plain-clothes policeman who patrol the souks and tourist places. This has certainly reduced the harassment which, at one stage, had reached ridiculous levels.

Guides offering their services should display an official badge issued by the local authorities. The riad is happy to arrange an official guide, where you can be sure that the guide is properly trained and registered.

There will, however, be a lot of people trying to part you from your money. Street hustlers and scam artists posing as guides, as well as harassment of women are all common, but in fact are more irritating than a real safety concern. Please read our tips on how to deal with this.

General tips for getting around Marrakesh

main market, Marrakech medina, MarrakeshThe best way of getting around Marrakech is on foot, especially in the Medina and the souks, where it is the only sensible option. However you will need transport to visit more distant Marrakech sights and to shuttle between the Medina and the new part of town. The best options are normally taxis, many of which can be shared.

The medina (old city) is generally very safe. As the small alleyways can be confusing, we recommend that you ask our gardien to accompany you until you know the way yourself.

From the Place (main square Jemaa al Fna’) at night, we recommend that you get a taxi back and then you have just a short walk back to the riad.

Please also ask to use the cellphone available for clients (returnable deposit of 100 dirhams) so you can easily call us if necessary. If you cannot find the riad or if you are returning from an evening out and would like someone to accompany you please call the riad and a member of staff will come and collect you.

Taxis

petit taxi, MarrakechGrand taxi in Marrakesh

Marrakech taxis are plentiful, cheap and normally the most convenient way to visit Marrakech attractions outside the Medina. There are two types of Marrakech taxis. Grand taxis are usually old Mercedes cars carrying up to six people for a fixed fare on specific routes. Many grand taxis start from Marrakech bus station, Jemaa el Fna’ and the post office in the new town. Petit taxis can be hailed down, are smaller, more expensive, and go anywhere. Taxis can be hired for city tours and excursions. Limousines can be hired for longer tours.

Taxi drivers are supposed to put on their meters. Sometimes they don’t and just ask for a flat rate, 20 dirhams. Again, some have got lucky in the past, such that they sometimes increase this amount to 40 dirhams or even more. In general, taxis can charge 50% more at night.

If they have not put their meter on, then you can ask them to. Either they will do that (fares start at 1.70 dirhams during the day and 2.50 dirhams at night), or they will state simply that it does not work. At that point you have a choice to either agree on a fare or get another taxi—depends on if you’re in a hurry and if there are plenty of other empty taxis around and perhaps how hot you are!

Another tactic is to let the taxi driver take you to your destination, get out of the taxi and give him what you think is the correct fare. You need to have a fairly good idea of taxi fares to do this confidently. As a guideline, the taxi fare from the Medina to Guéliz is between 10 dirhams and 15 dirhams during the day. Add on 50% more at night. Compared to European taxi fares Moroccan taxis are really good value, so there is no need to haggle over 5 dirhams.

Around noon and late afternoon it is harder to find a taxi because either they are changing shift and are not interested in taking new fares, or because they are really busy. If you’re standing by the side of the road trying to flag down a taxi, they may stop and ask where you’re headed – if it’s in a direction they don’t want to go, they will say they can’t do it – especially if they already have a passenger in the car going somewhere else. So if they don’t stop, it’s not because they are being picky or don’t like tourists – in general they do, because they pay more! It’s because they are heading somewhere else or are going off shift.

Remember that, at the end of the day, a taxi driver may take home between 50 and 100 dirhams, as he has to pay the holder of the licence, and the owner of the taxi if he doesn’t own it, and most don’t seem to own their own taxis. In addition, he has to pay for gas and repairs.

It is not required to tip taxi drivers, but if you’re paying according to the meter, it is nice to round up the amount.

If you take a taxi for a day’s excursion, again it is not really required to pay a tip in addition to the rate for the day. It’s entirely up to you.

Moped & Bicycle

Mopeds are a popular way of getting around Marrakech but not for the faint-hearted. Bicycles are easy to hire and are allowed in the Medina.

Horse-drawn carriage

Horse and carriage, Marrakesh, caleche, Marrakech

Romantic calèches are a good way of getting around Marrakech. They have space for five people. The carriage should have a sign with the fare written on it. If there is no set fare you will have to agree the price before setting off. Expect to pay around Dh 80 per hour. Find Marrakech horse-drawn carriages at El Badi’a Palace, Koutoubia Mosque, Jemaa el Fna’ and the classier Marrakech hotels.

Buses

Marrakech buses are frequent and very cheap but not especially attractive for getting around Marrakech as they are often crowded. The number 1 links the Medina and the new town.

Tourist bus

Sightseeing bus, red, double-decker, Marrakesh

There is a red, double-decker bus that you can get on and off. You can buy tickets for 24 hours and cost 75 dh for children, 145 dh for adults. There is also a 48-hour option that costs 95 dh for children and 190 dh for adults. You can get to all the main sightseeing places, Menara Gardens, Saadian tombs, Bahia palace, Guèliz, the new town, Marjorelle Gardens, the Palmeraie and of course, the famous Place Jemaa el Fna’.

Walking around, crossing the road

You may find yourself standing at the side of the road wanting to get to the other side and wondering how you’re going to do it and arrive in one piece the other side. It’s a good idea to tag alongside Moroccans – but if you’re not comfortable with that because they seem to putting themselves in the path of a car, then here’s what to do.

Look for a gap in traffic, then start walking into the road. Keep going slowly. Motorcyles, mopeds, bikes will move around you. So be predictable and keep going rather than stepping back or suddenly standing still unless, of course, the situation requires it! You will find that the cars slow down and even stop, leaving you space to cross.

Kids are very keen to offer their services, particularly if they realise that you are lost. If you are happy for them to show you the way, then only pay them a few dirhams – max 10 dirhams, if they really did a good job.

If you don’t want them to show you the way, behave as if you know the way (even if you don’t) and walk on purposely. Remember that we are happy to provide you with a mobile phone in case you do get lost, so that you can ring the riad for someone to collect you.

– The Last Storytellers – Marrakech

Title of book The Last Storytellers Marrakech Morocco

 

To enrich your experience of Marrakech and Morocco, buy the book “The Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco” by BBC Africa Editor, former BBC correspondent in Morocco, Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton – The Last Storytellers

 

Come and stay with us when you come to Marrakech: two chic riads – affordable luxury

Riad Ariha             Riad Chi Chi

 

The City of Marrakesh — a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ancient city gate in the old city of MarrakechNew architecture in Marrakech train station
The old city of Marrakech was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Patrimoine Mondiale) in 2008 in recognition of Marrakesh’ impressive number of masterpieces of architecture and art — the ramparts and monumental gates, Koutoubia Mosque, Saadians tombs, ruins of the Badia’ Palace, Bahia Palace, Menara water feature and pavilion. Recognition as a World Heritage Site also implies the historical aspect and Marrakesh’ decisive role in medieval urban development.

The 700 hectares of the Medina, the ancient habitat, rendered vulnerable due to demographic change, represents an outstanding example of a living historic town with its tangle of lanes, its houses, souks, fondouks, artisanal activities and traditional trades.
We are very proud to be able to offer two beautifully renovated riads /riyadhs using the best of Moroccan craftsmanship. Both Riad Ariha and Riad Chi-Chi feature lovely plasterwork, lustrous tadelakt, elegant wrought iron grillwork that leaves wonderful light patterns on the walls and floor depending on the time of day and the intricate woodwork. We also employed many Moroccan artisans for our interior decoration. They created the lampshades, the furniture, the rugs and the artwork in the riads.
Come and enjoy one of Marrakech’ beautifully renovated riads in the historic city of Marrakech.
Riad Ariha and Riad Chi-Chi, Marrakesh.

Marrakesh UNESCO World Heritage Site

 

Riad Ariha          Riad Chi Chi