“A beautiful, intimate hideaway in the quieter reaches of the northern medina, whose warm service makes for an unforgettable stay”
This is stylish simplicity at its best. Walls are neutral creams and whites with rich splashes of reds and burgundies in the bedspreads. The furnishings are elegant: carved wooden lamps and bedside tables, soft Berber rugs on stone floors, and ornate shutters which can be closed at night for an indulgent lie in.
The 4 bedrooms are all equally charming; there is no duff choice. Three of them are on the first floor, with windows opening onto the calm of the courtyard below, while La Terrasse is on the roof terrace (smaller and less private, but handy for sun-worshippers). Given a choice - which is rare, given its popularity - La Douiria Superior would be our tip for winter stays (it's the largest, with a working fireplace which is perfect for snuggling up), while La Carbone Superior is perhaps the most stylish, with its charcoal-and-red colour scheme. The beds have perfectly plump pillows and beautifully crisp linen which made bedtime a real treat. Given the narrowness of the rooms - a common feature of most riads - some beds are set right up against the wall on one side.
Each ensuite bathroom is decorated in traditional tadelakt, with an abundance of soft towels and Sens de Marrakech goodies which we loved. All have showers except La Baignoire which has a wide tadelakt tub (with shower attachment) - you can request candles for a romantic evening soak. All have hairdryers and decent size mirrors; the only thing missing is natural light.
Food at Dar Zaman is a leisurely, intimate affair; breakfast, lunch and dinner (the latter two on request) can all be enjoyed inside or out. The cosy dining area has space for 3 couples, while the courtyard and roof terrace provide picturesque alternatives for dining al fresco.
In some B&B-style riads, dinner is an afterthought, but not here. Simply put in a request in the morning, and chef Karima will source fresh produce from the market, taking on board any dietary preferences – nothing is too much trouble.
We arrived late in the evening and - having requested dinner ahead of our arrival - were welcomed by a candlelight, rose-scattered courtyard table, relaxing tunes from Peter’s iPod dock gently humming in the background. We opened with a selection of Moroccan starters including fresh courgette salad, a sweet tomato dish and home-baked bread; then a choice between 2 mouth-watering tagines - lamb and prune with toasted almonds or, our selection, a succulent lemon chicken - served with fragrant rice. Finally apple crepes were followed by mint tea and coffee. It may be a fairly standard Moroccan menu, but it was all delicious, fresh and reasonably priced. We’d also recommend sampling the Moroccan wine as it’s usually better value than international offerings - we went for the rose and found it to be the perfect dinner accompaniment. If you fancy a change of scene, Dar Zellij and Dar Yacout - two of Marrakech's best restaurants - are a short walk away (you'll need to book).
For our breakfast, we were in the cool, shaded dining room, a welcome choice in the heat of mid-May, although if you’d prefer the views and sunshine of the terrace just ask. The choice was impressive: warm bread and pastries, homemade jams and freshly cooked pancakes, plus a selection of fruits and natural yoghurt. Light lunches and snacks can be arranged throughout the day.