Posts Tagged ‘riad’
The baking heat of the desert greeted me when I stepped off the plane in Morocco. Welcome to Marrakech, a city of pink buildings drowning in a sea of satellite dishes. Imagine narrow winding streets filled with drivers texting and honking as they fly past on mopeds. Snake charmers. French-style pâtisseries. Open air butcher shops. Tea shops, full to the brim even in the sweltering heat of the day. Donkey traffic. Veil culture ranging from no veils to fully-veiled, showing off slits of almond eyes. The never-ending song of aggressive hawkers echoing from every souk.
I’ve never set foot in a more beautiful hotel. Words to describe it? Timeless. Graceful. Opulent. Stylish. Unique. Palatial. Every last detail of this hotel is pure perfection. Consisting of 5 riads (traditional Moroccan residences centered around a courtyard or garden) with 28 individually themed rooms total, La Sultana is a shrine to Moroccan design and craftsmanship. From the minute you step into this hotel, filled with glimmering gold accents, you can feel the outside world of endless streets, honking mopeds, open-air butcher shops, donkey traffic, aggressive hawkers, and snake charmers melt away to nothing but a distant whisper.
When in Morocco, you can’t miss the traditional Moroccan hammam, or Turkish-style steam bath. There are a variety of public and private hammams ranging from uber-luxurious spa experiences, like the hammam at La Sultana in Marrakech, to simple public bathhouses. So how does it work? Step one: de-robe. This is not the time to be shy! Do as the Moroccans do and strip down to the bare essentials. Next buckets of water are poured over you, in the fancier establishments by your own attendant. Then comes the steaming. The heated stone platforms you’ll lay on are guaranteed to force your muscles to surrender.
Wow Factor: The Moroccan Riad
Instead of staying in a traditional hotel, experience a slice of Moroccan culture by staying in a riad, or small hotel converted from a traditional Moroccan home or palace centered around a courtyard or garden. Marrakech is bursting with stylish luxury riads, many of them European-owned. For a taste of something more authentic, check out Riad Kniza. This is one of the city’s most luxurious riads, which also happens to be Moroccan-owned. Dating from the 18th century and restored with traditional artisan-crafted materials, this 11-room gem is owned by a renowned Marrakech antiques dealer, who also doubles as a tour guide whose client roster includes former American presidents and celebs like Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman.