Opening of our new luxury boutique hotel / riad in Marrakech

Drumroll please….

Riad Sapphire is now officially OPEN!

riad in Marrakech_design_boutique hotel_in_Marrakesh

We have worked day and night to make sure that our brand new, all-suite riad stands out in the crowd. We believe what we have created is unique that it interprets a vivid and modern take on classic Moorish architecture, complemented by clean lines and restrained décor.

From top to bottom, our local artisans have crafted unique and fetching furnishings that give a sense of place and comfort.

Riad Sapphire and Spa_riad in Marrakech_main courtyard night vertical

For example, our lampshades were custom-ordered, the woodwork was all handmade (look out for the handsome lattice screen, locally called a ‘menzeh’), a leather-covered ceiling fan. There are lime plaster tadelakt walls, marble flooring in the courtyards and the fabrics were predominately hand-woven. A modern spin has been put on classic design, so while you’ll recognise the traditional etching typically found on a Moroccan railing, you’ll notice that we have had it rendered in modern glass.

dining in Marrakesh_riad sapphire_Marrakesh riad
dining area in loggia of Riad Sapphire, Marrakesh

In between welcoming visitors old and new, we’re busy toasting all the wonderful artisans who have helped us to create one of the most stylish places to stay in North Africa. We hope to have you with us very soon.

Keep up with the news on Facebook (regularly updated) here: www.facebook.com/riad.sapphire and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter too www.twitter.com/RiadSapphire

Berber Rafting, activity near Marrakesh

berber rafting, activities, near Marrakech
A great way to get active and see Morocco’s countryside is to get out and about on the country’s rivers. One of the best ways to do this is by booking a trip with Dutch-owned company Berber Rafting. A white water rafting and adventure company, most tours involve taking guests to the mountains, trekking on Mt “Jebel Toubkal” (4167 m), Africa’s second highest peak after Mt Kilimanjaro and rafting on the thundering Ahansal River. This is also an unusual way to get up close to traditional Berber villages which might otherwise be hard to access.
Their website is a wealth of information on rafting in Morocco and as well as listing plenty of inspirational itineraries also has some tips on what to do is someone in your party goes ‘man overboard’ and what to pack. The rafting season tends to start just as soon as the snow melts.
www.berberraftingadventures.com

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Le Jardin Restaurant

 

Le Jardin, medina of MarrakeshIf like us, you love the rooftop at Café des Épices but sometimes find it too crowded, head over to its sister restaurant, Le Jardin. It’s just a short stroll away.

Set in the flowery courtyard of a restored riad, Le Jardin is a curious space where you’ll see projected art-house movies on the walls at night and a fashionable crowd eating and drinking in the shaded garden during the day. Trees, water and shade abound so this is just the space for when you want to put your feet up. There’s even a small library under the courtyard arches.

Try the milkshakes during the day (milk with avocado, milk with carrot, almond milk then in the evening switch to traditional Moroccan dishes like tajine d’agneau, mixed grill with taktouka or Beldi chicken with saffron, honey and semolina Seffa.

There’s often a party atmosphere at Le Jardin which as well as being a place of culture, it also doubles as a special events venue.  A special, must-visit place.

www.lejardin.ma

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I Limoni Restaurant in Marrakesh

I limoni restaurant in Marrakech

Sometimes you just want somewhere that reminds you of your favourite Italian go-to restaurant back home. To drink lemonade, eat pasta and gently download all the experiences, sights and sounds of the Medina in the shade. I Limoni is that place.

An Italian restaurant that doubles up as a coffee shop in the heart of the medina, it has a cool, shaded patio and terrace. Lemon trees scent the air and there are plenty of corners for relaxing in after a hearty Italian meal. Not any old Italian meal either, many consider the food of I Limoni to be some of the best Italian fare in all of North Africa.

For a special treat opt for the spaghetti au poivron et tomate then heave yourself up to the rooftop terrace to soak up the scenic houses on the horizon.

‘Hidden gem’ may be a much-overused descriptor, but it can be applied to I Limoni. Seek it out.

There’s no website for I Limoni but keep up with all the news here at their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/ilimonimarrakech

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The Museum of the Art of Living

art of living museum, in Marrakesh

The museum of the Art of Living is a must-visit in the Medina. Located close to Bab Taghazout, this picturesque museum was once the home of the 19th century Marrakchi poet, Ben Omar.

Lovingly restored in 2006 by Abderrazzak Benchaabane – who spent four-years renovating the property – the museum reopened its doors in 2010.

Today, tourists pour into the museum, which is spacious and cool and is spread over a generous 500m2, across six rooms. This is a great place to learn about Moroccan culture in the comfort of air-con. Inside there are displays of textiles, rugs, paintings all giving a broad overview of the traditional Berber lifestyle. One room is a dedicated reading room – which provides ample respite from the heat and crowds.

The other key place to relax is the Arab-Andalusian style garden and terrace on the rooftop, which offers outstanding views.

Eagle-eyed visitors may notice some similarities with the design of the Majorelle Gardens which was also restored by Abderrazzak Benchaabane, at the request of Yves Saint Laurent.  Overall, this is a chic, well-conceived place to spend an afternoon. Recommended.

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Hanout in Marrakech

hanout store in Marrakesh

As we know Marrakech is a veritable hot-bed of fashion and barely a week passes without another boutique opening. Equally, our shopping list is never-ending with yet more ‘must-buy’ items added all the time.

One of our long-time favourites, which we would like to share with you, is Hanout. According to their promotional material, Hanout “reflects the magic of the Orient in designer chic comfort” and we quite agree. ‘Hanout’ means store in Moroccan Arabic.

Founded by Meriem Rawlings the brand encapsulates the beauty of Moroccan traditional clothing such as Kaftans and Takchitta but with a modern accent.

Rawlings studied at London’s St Martins School of Fashion and is now based in Marrakech, working with dozens of talented artisans who work on embroidery, bead work and colour overlay.

We especially like the kilim boots, sequinned waistcoats and floaty dresses. We are not alone either. Famously, the singer-songwriter Natasha Atlas has also worn the clothes for an album photo-shoot and the Hanout label has been sold in London department store, Selfridges.

Hanout can be found at Sidi Abdelaziz (location hint: head to the popular Souk Cherifa and look for the store under the Terrasse des Epices). Take a taxi to Dar el Pacha and with the palace on your right, keep walking straight ahead. You’ll see some wicker lampshades and a sign Terrasse des Epices that will be on your right. The boutiques are on the first floor. Just be prepared to give your credit card a bruising!

http://hanout.ma

 

 

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Al Nour – textiles – artisans in Marrakesh

al nour Marrakech, hand embroidery

We recently found out about a small company called Al Nour who produce beautiful, hand-embroidery which has been created by disabled female artisans in Marrakech.

Al Nour is a social enterprise which, along with the retail arm, includes a day care centre and a professional training centre. By shopping at Al Nour your dirhams go directly towards helping to support these hard-working artisan women.

You can shop online too for these hand embroidered textiles which are made from 100% natural fibres in either linen, cotton, wool, pashmina or silk. The designs are beautifully simple and we particularly like the children’s travel pouch, the collection for babies and the traditional hammam-style towels. Best of all, the home textiles can be made to measure.

http://www.alnour-textiles.com/

 

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The Riads of Marrakech

riads of marrakech book

Spanning 200 pages and including 700 illustrations, we think we might just have stumbled upon the ideal Christmas gift for lovers of Marrakech. This book is by Elan Fleisher – a travel and hotel photographer (elanhotelpix.com) – who has chosen to focus on twelve of the most striking riads of Marrakech, and the Medina with its armies of artisans, handcrafters, architects and designers.

The author explains how the riads of the Medina symbolise, not only the long-standing artisanal heritage of Marrakech but also its relatively newly found identity as a destination for creative people, jet-setters and holidaymakers. In fact, the riads he argues, have become as much of a Marrakech attraction as the souks themselves. The riads are destinations on their own, showcasing many aspects of the city that visitors find most exciting about Marrakech – hammams, gardens, gourmet cuisines, craftsmanship, courtyards of fountains, rooftop terraces and views of the Atlas mountains. The author rightly sums up riads as being a mix of “boutique design hotels and historic private preservation museums.”

This book is also breaking new ground as so far, while there have been books on Moroccan interiors and luxury hotels in Morocco, not one has been dedicated to the riad. The book also contains photographic essays on the sights, people, food, surroundings, and nightlife making it a highly suitable souvenir or gift.

The Riads of Marrakech by Elan Fleisher is published by ACC Editions. www.accpublishinggroup.com 

www.antiquecollectorsclub.com/uk/store/pv/9781851496969/the-riads-of-marrakech/elan-fleisher?layout=popup#sthash.nVAkoNeK.dpuf

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Marrakesh the city

Marrakech has over 300 days of sunshine and is a year-round destination.

Ideal for friends or family reunions, romantic getaways or just getting away.

Chill out or celebrate in exotic Marrakech, Morocco.

 

menara gardens in Marrakesh
Menara gardens in Marrakech
Marrakesch city walls
Part of the ramparts of the city wall in Marrakesh

Marrakesh the city: A mixture of the exotic and the familiar — the old city of Marrakech with its narrow alleyways and enticing markets offers us a glimpse of a different way of living. The Marrakech medina (old city) has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

 

Place Jemaa el fna', main square, Marrakech, by day
The main square, Place Jemaa el fna’, Marrakech, by day
main square place jemaa el fna' marrakech by night
The Main Square Place Jemaa el Fna’ by night

Marrakech by night

Enjoy fresh orange juice from one of the stands in the main square, Place Jemaa el Fna’.

orange juice stand, main square, Marrakech, Place Jemaa el Fna'
Orange juice stand Place Jemaa el Fna’, Marrakech

The new town, Gueliz, in Marrakesh

The new city, Gueliz, with its restaurants, boutiques and outdoor cafés, looks and feels European.