Riad AnaYela

Marrakech, Morocco Book from Book from £123 per night

An intimate, stylish riad with sumptuous suites, aimed at romancing couples and creative types seeking privacy and inspiration
AnaYela is a truly special 5-bedroom riad, located in the oldest, least touristy part of Marrakech's medina. Owned by German entrepreneur Bernd Kolb and his wife Andrea, it is a painstakingly restored 300-year-old palace that offers a genuine Marrakchi experience. Authenticity is key: over 100 local artisans helped to refurbish it, using every traditional technique from silver-beating to wood carving, and working by candle-light throughout. The end result is a hushed sanctuary decorated in Berber-style natural colours (no jewel-bright limes and oranges, or heavy dark wood) and, unusually for a riad, there's no overgrown, tatty vegetation.

Huge engraved silver lanterns hang at every corner, white hand-stitched pouffes line the floors, and good taste seeps from the walls. It is also the setting for a delightful love story: AnaYela means 'I am Yela', and the riad is named after a 16-year-old girl who lived there and left a note, unearthed during the restoration process, written on the eve of her wedding as she prepared to leave her grandfather's house. It feels like a house of love.

Highs

  • Cool, elegant and minimalist styling throughout, especially in the beautiful bedrooms
  • Highly personalised service and flexible mealtimes
  • Roof terrace with wide-sweeping views across Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains and a plunge pool for cooling off in after exploring the medina
  • The level of detail is incredible: there's a tapis volant (flying carpet) in the tower on which Yela and her love stole kisses each night and were transported across the rooftops

Lows

  • Small rooms in which the windows are coloured glass; beautiful, but you may miss natural daylight
  • So silent and intimate that you might feel self-conscious if you were the only guests staying
  • Not suitable for young children, although families can book the whole riad and older children would be fine
  • It's expensive even by Marrakech's rising norms, but the service is outstanding and the design truly gorgeous

Best time to go

October to May are the best months if you don't like the heat. Night owls might prefer the summer, because it gets cooler at night and you can avoid the crowds. Winter can be very chilly.

Our top tips

This is for anyone who wants to experience the real, un-Disneyland Marrakech.

Great for...

City Style
Honeymoon
  • Riad Hotel
  • 5
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • Under 1s/Over 8s
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Each room is decorated in natural hues: cream tufted rugs or leopard skins, white pouffes, crunchy white bed linen and creamy limestone walls. Carved silverware is everywhere, from the giant overhead lanterns to the containers around the sink, the bed surround and even the 10-foot doors which have hammered into them the story of AnaYela in Arabic, like the pages of a book.

There are 5 rooms in total, including 2 Suites on the first floor. These are slightly larger and include fireplaces - useful in the chilly Moroccan winter months - and giant brick baths that are big enough for 2, while the Standard and Superior rooms have gorgeous floor-to-ceiling mirrors where the fireplaces would be. No room is very large, and there is little natural light, but the lighting is cosy and extremely romantic.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Fixed mealtimes and menus don't exist at AnaYela; the whole set-up is relaxed and fluid. Guests can breakfast whenever they emerge, and say then if they wish to have dinner. If so, Khadija, the female Marrakechi chef who specialises in traditional Moroccan cuisine, will then cook a set meal tailored to any special requirements. Meals can be taken either in one's room, around a large communal cedar wood table beside the pool on the ground floor, up on the roof terrace watching the sunrise or sunset, or on the tapis volant. There is also a genuine old Berber tent erected on the roof covering a relaxing cushioned area where guests can have an open-fired Moroccan barbeque (on request).

Breakfast is lovely, and incudes fruit salad, cheeses, dried fruit and nuts, pastries and Moroccan crepes and eggs to order. Salads and snacks are available all day without notice, while dinner might include traditional Opriouate or Moroccan pastries filled with cheese and served with a refreshing salad of tomato, pepper and cucumber, delicious tagines au poulet with nutty rice, and yogurt with rose petals for dessert, all washed down by some of the ferociously sweet Moroccan mint tea.

Close by are several leading Marrakech restaurants. We'd also recommend heading into the Djemaa el Fna square one evening to sample the open-air barbeques.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Cultural evenings at the riad including a story teller, snake charmer, fortune teller, dancer and henna painter, all accompanied by gnaoua musicians. AnaYela adds to the authenticity by inviting local Moroccan friends to share in the evening
  • Tour to a hidden Berber village in the Atlas mountains, exclusive to AnaYela guests
  • Trips to the stylish coastal resort of Essaouira, the famous hippy trail destination with a small white medina, charming port and fantastic windsurfing
  • There are free transfers to the Djemaa el Fna square, plus guides laid on in every language to show you around and help with the necessary haggling. Admire the Koutoubia Mosque's 70m high minaret, sit in a rooftop cafe and people-watch, or head into the rabbit-warren souks and barter for leather goods, cowhide lamps, bedspreads, pottery and exotic spices
  • In-room treatments including relaxation massages, manicures, hairdressing and the AnaYela Love Special (a romantic bath for two with rose petals, incense, bath oil, champagne and cakes - Suites only)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being

Kids

Very young children (1 and under) may sleep in their parents' bed. The hotel is not really suitable for kids aged 2-8 as there are no extra beds so the normal practice is to book a separate room for kids aged 8+. The pool is not fenced off so you'd have to watch them like hawks!

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
10/10
Overall

The staff were extremely welcoming and could not do enough for us. The riad is a very relaxing and calm environment and is beautifully decorated.

10/10,

This is a wonderful place: we went there for a 7 night holiday over the New Year break. The building is beautiful, its location in the medina fascinating and the staff are superbly efficient and kind. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble, from arranging and taking us on excursions, booking restaurants (and ensuring we got there and back without mishap) to lighting and keeping the fire going in our room. Dinner on the tapis volant was glorious, and the breakfasts, oh the breakfasts! Fresh fruit, homemade yoghurt, delicious coffee, fresh orange juice, patisserie and home made jam. It is in every way a completely relaxing place to be.

10/10,

Absolutely beautiful riad, booked whole riad to celebrate a friend's special birthday. Had a fabulous time in beautiful surroundings with lovely food. We all agreed that there was not a minute of our trip that we didn't enjoy and could not fault the riad staff who did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable. A special thank you to Abdelhak and Adil who were fabulous and took such good care of us.

10/10,

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Rates for Riad AnaYela