For your stay in the ever-fascinating, exotic city of Marrakesh live in a totally renovated ancient riad in a quiet, residential area of the medina. At Riad Sapphire & Spa we have adopted a colonial 30’s style, but updated for the new century, in a blend of modern architecture with traditional Moroccan architecture. The interior design also is a mix of Western and Eastern, modern and ancient.
Take the glass panelling in the large courtyard with our pool (using solar energy to heat), instead of a traditional forged metal railing, we’ve rendered it in glass but had the beautiful traditional pattern etched onto the glass. The result is a clean look that allows more light to penetrate the loggia/arcade area of the riad.
In keeping with our colonial 30s theme, we have a ceiling fan in the salon – but used Moroccan craftsmanship to make it a little different. We purchased leather from the suqs and found a leather craftsman to cut and cover the fan blades and support rod – voilà an old idea updated.
In the rooms we have hand-cut metal ceiling lampshades that cast wonderful patterns on the surrounding surfaces. In the courtyards and arcades we decided on a more modern take on metal lampshades – we only had to show our metal craftsman, Mohamed, a sample and he faithfully executed the designs. Again, at night these lampshades throw entrancing shadows on the white walls.
All the furniture and most of the décor, e.g. tables, sofas, banquettes, lampshades, rugs, artwork, decorative cushions, etc. have been locally made using skilled craftsmen. We’ve done a series of videos outlining the work of some of these craftspeople – see our blog – to watch how wood is turned without using electricity, how the beautiful cut metal lampshades are fashioned, how the fabrics used in some of the draperies are woven and more.
Marrakech is modern, ancient, exciting, interesting, vibrant, innovative, exotic and it has over 300 days of sunshine per year. Don’t wait to visit!
Come and stay with us – live in a totally renovated ancient riad in a quiet, residential area of the medina of Marrakech. Book directly online via our secure site and get an extra bonus www.riadsapphire.com
Fashion shoots regularly take place in chic Marrakech. Palaces, souks and riads often host models and their entourages. It’s no wonder, with the honeyed light, the elaborate costumes that Marrakech is known for and the exoticism that the city still evokes.
All of our senses come alive when we walk in the Medina. People often write of the sights and smells – the colours, the spices and so on – but what of the sounds?
This week we stumbled upon a wonderful collection of sound vignettes on the website of Reorient Magazine called ‘Here and Now. Voices of Marrakech’. The recordings capture the sounds of Marrakech perfectly.
This is the creator, Julia Tieke, of the ‘soundscape’ or ‘sonic map’ talking about the project:
-Usually visuals take precedence when one visits cities. Do you hear cities?
“I am very aware of the soundscape of cities, and try to exercise separating sounds from sight, as our vision influences our hearing a lot. Sounds are much less clear, and very often ambiguous when separated from their sources. Hearing cities, for me, also goes beyond the literally audible; it includes listening to stories – those told by people, those hidden, and those imagined.”
Just close your eyes and listen and you’ll be taken straight to the souks.
Travel writing and photographic projects both flourish in artistic Morocco but what is really interesting is how new social media forms – combined with cheaper high-quality camera lenses – are helping to facilitate a whole new generation of creative reporters.
This week, we stumbled upon a wonderful photo montage, or presentation, of one man’s car journey through Morocco.
Dave Fields, from Portland, Oregon, starts in Marrakech and while his words are minimal – in classic photo journalism style – his amazingly good photographs speak volumes.
Dave says of his adventure:
“Although our stint in Marrakech was short-lived, it does not take long to be absorbed into the fervid pace of the old Medina. Winding through the intricacies of the frenzied souks, losing all sense of direction seems nearly effortless as you follow the barrage of unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells. Marrakech is a true bombardment of the senses.”
He then travels to the High Atlas and winds westwards, then down to the southern coast and Essaouira.
What fabulous news! The Medina now has a new place full of history and lovely things – the Boucharouite Museum, an initiative devoted to Moroccan folk art. The museum takes its name from the ‘boucharouite’ carpet, also known as the rag rug, which are made by women in remote villages throughout Morocco.
They are prominently on display at the museum, as are other items including Berber doors and photos.
Boucharouite has long been considered the ‘carpet of the poor’, but of course they are actually highly prized and come in many colours, shapes and materials and often carry the heavy weight of sentimental value.
This new small museum gives these wonderful pieces of folk art a home and a platform. Add it to your list of things to do in Marrakech this summer.
Museum Boucharouite. 40 Dhs entry, free for children under 16 years. Open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Closed Sunday and August. No website. Telephone: 0524 38 38 87 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To get lost in a foreign city is a fear that many of us have, but putting away the map can be just the thing for adventure. The souks of Marrakech are – we promise – a great place to get lost in.
So, what to expect?
Well, cast adrift in the maze of the medina, carts will trundle past you, laden with oranges and timber. You’ll see hawkers selling piles of eggs, fruit of all colours and fresh herbs. You’ll spot ancient weavers working at looms. The smell of delicious freshly baked ‘khoubz’ (bread) will waft over you.
You’ll pass brightly coloured apothecaries, where inside, hundreds of glass jars containing everything from pickled birds and crystals to ras el hanout and saffron will be for sale. You’ll be invited in for tea. You’ll have offers of guidance and you’ll certainly pass plenty of shady cafes to cool off in with a Casablanca beer or some mint tea.
See, doesn’t sound too bad does it? Chances are, after getting lost in the souks, you will return with a dozen travel tales, a handful of souvenirs and a camera full of photos.
This recent article on the Huffington Post website, inspired us to write this blog post, they agree that getting lost isn’t so bad!
This week we bring news of a unique restoration project, just completed. If you wander along the rue de l’ Hammam and through the archway between the Mouassine Mosque and the Mouassine Fountain you will find yourself in the proximity of the newly opened Douiria Apartment.
The ‘Douiria Apartment’ may sound like a modern housing development, but it is a much more exciting concept than that. It is in fact a restoration project which has preserved a ‘Douiria’ (reception apartment) that was built during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail (1646 – 1727) in the 17th century.
Patrick Man’ach – who opened La Maison de la Photographie and the Berber Eco museum in Ourika – is the brains behind the project. Having seen the space, he suspected that its white-washed walls might conceal an older, more fascinating décor. He brought in a team of experts, including Xavier Salmon – of the Louvre museum in Paris – and together they worked to remove the plaster.
What was discovered behind these plain walls must be seen to be believed. Underneath lay floral patterns, wooden beams and a sun motif – all perfectly preserved.
Next, a team of 10 skilled Moroccan craftsmen were brought in – expert Moroccan potters from Ourika – who carefully restored the original colours and wooden beams. All the phases of the complex restoration were photographed and are also on display.
Now open, The Douiria provides not only a unique place for hosting VIP gatherings and high-end exhibitions but also a rare insight into the Arab art of courtly entertainment during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail.
The lovely folks at Dubai Eye Radio – one of the best radio stations in the Middle East – asked us to tell them what it’s like running a riad in the heart of Marrakech. Before we knew it, we were on-air being broadcast around the region and beyond.
Our story was on a particular show called ‘The Road Less Travelled’ which is all about exploring other cultures and authentic travel. The Travel Show is presented by Lucy Taylor and Mark Lloyd who, every week, help their listeners ‘stay up to date and learn to navigate potential pitfalls with practical travel tips and on the ground advice from the experts in the know.’
The Travel Show covers all elements of travel, tourism, hospitality, leisure and lifestyle – looking at everything from local UAE escapes and entertainment to international vacation options and attractions.
You can listen to our own interview here, care of this podcast:
Travel and music go together. Just like a photograph brings back memories a song can take you back to a certain place too.
This week we stumbled upon a beautiful piece of film which we feel has successfully captured the essence of Marrakech. It has been created by Suki Mok, a talented musician, turned photographer.
Suki shot the short film on his Blackmagic camera and it has been set to a transporting piece of music by Jose Gonzalez – a song called ‘Step out’, which has an ethereal, travel vibe to it.
The film takes the audience through some of Morocco’s finest sights such as the Atlas Mountains, Berber villages, the Medina souks, Jardin Majorelle and the Koutoubia Minaret. All of these iconic sights were expertly captured on Suki’s first ever visit to Morocco, watching it is a bit like seeing the country through fresh eyes. Suki says of his journey:
“Just an hour’s drive away will take you to the stunning Atlas mountains, where the Berbers still live in villages untouched by modern society. The film is rich with new colours, patterns and faces with wholly unique stories – it was a truly unforgettable experience.”