PHOTO: A place to chill at Marrakesh's Ryad Dyor hotel. (photo by Worldwide Scott)
Arriving in Marrakesh for the first time can be a dizzying experience.
As you weave your way through the warren of small streets and arched alleyways in an attempt to get your bearings, you will inevitably be surrounded by a whirlwind of whizzing motorbikes, tooting taxi horns and even the odd ‘clappity-clap’ of hooves.
But just as one tiny lane lined with mosaics is beginning to blend into another and the sounds are starting to get a bit much, you come across a small door in the most exquisite shade of eggshell blue with the words ‘Ryad Dyor’ etched into rose-tinted brick above it.
Opening that door changes everything.
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Riads are traditional Moroccan residences that feature a central courtyard and are usually home to a pool or fountain. This inward-facing architecture offers both privacy from peering eyes and protection from the searing African sun.
Ryad Dyor calls itself a luxury riad, and it certainly made a plush first impression as we were whisked from the front door through a first courtyard—where the relaxing babble of water running into the plunge pool was the only sound—into a second one. As we arrived at night, flickering candles guided the way, with a ring of lights above the pool creating an especially enchanting effect.
A supply of petite Moroccan pastries awaited in the second courtyard, served alongside freshly brewed Moroccan mint tea and creating one of the most pampered check-in processes I've ever experienced.
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Room with a View
In our room, one finds a chamber splashed with turquoise and cedar and filled with assorted artistic touches, like the entire riad.
There is vibrant pottery, a dangling light fixture affixed with a tassel, a bold painting of a whirling dervish and even a rustic fireplace. No need to use the fireplace during our stay, though, as the temperatures are perfect during the last week of February. Our balcony overlooks the pool and an accompanying collection of desert greenery; Since it faces east, reading a book while soaking in some morning sun quickly becomes a tradition.
As fantastic as the room is, the rooftop terrace was a favorite part of Ryad Dyor.
This breezy space is lined with lanterns, straw umbrellas and a set of comfy-chic sun loungers just begging to be sprawled on all day. And that is just what we did, with the peaceful sound of birdsong and swaying palms only broken up at sunset when the haunting call to prayer echoed throughout the city.
And if you want to cool off with a local Casablanca beer or a caipirinha up here, go for it. The staff (one of the friendliest I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting) will deliver it with a smile.
Under the thatch-covered portion of the terrace, you will find plush couches backed by four big block letters that spell out ‘L-O-V-E’, and I’m willing to bet that is precisely how every guest feels about this section of Ryad Dyor.
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Stay in for Dinner
Riads are often the best places to get a genuine taste of local cooking in Marrakesh, and Ryad Dyor offers a fantastic in-house dining program.
We enjoyed a feast under the bewitching lightbulbs by the pool that offered a range of Moroccan specialties like delicious dips (think eggplant, roasted peppers, and zucchini), chicken tagine with lemon and green olives, and warm apple cake.
All are accompanied by mint tea, which is always complimentary during your stay at Ryad Dyor.
Address: 1, Driba Jdida, Sidi Ben Slimane, Marrakesh
Rates: from $130/night, with plenty of special offers available on their website.