Riad Noga

Marrakech, Morocco Book from

Hard to find, hard to leave: a beautiful and homely 7-room riad on the edge of Marrakech’s old city
Take a pair of historic houses, gut them, refurbish them with Moroccan objets d'art, coat them in tadlakt glazing, add a solar-heated pool, and what have you got? Riad Noga.

This dream recipe has served German owner Gaby very well since she opened back in 1999. We felt instantly at ease as we retreated from the bustling medina into the tranquil twin courtyards, which brim with palms, lemon trees, cacti and other greenery. There are also 3 sun-bathed terraces dotted around the rooftops, a covered gallery draped in bougainvillea, and lots of little nooks which entice you to kick back on piles of Berber cushions. Inside, the 7 bedrooms mix handcrafted doors, intricate tiling and vaulted ceilings with warmed-hued fabrics, open fireplaces and cosy rugs. To top it all, Gaby and her multi-lingual staff (ably assisted by a resident tortoise and an African grey parrot called Kleinie) are attentive yet wonderfully discreet, seemingly appearing from nowhere whenever you need assistance. Marrakech may have an ever-increasing number of sleek, designer riads, but few can match Noga for homely charm and a warm welcome.

Highs

  • A fantastic location in the medina, just a few minutes’ walk from the lively main square of Djemaa el Fna
  • Excellent breakfasts, Moroccan lunches and tagine dinners, served on the terraces with views over the city to the Atlas Mountains or inside by a roaring fire
  • There’s little to disturb the peace other than the regular call to prayer
  • Lots of lovely touches to make you feel welcome - fresh flowers on your table; towels for the pool; dates, nuts and homemade biscuits in your room on arrival
  • Larger groups can rent the whole riad (sleeping up to 15), along with its 9 well-trained staff

Lows

  • It’s hidden down an alley and can be tricky to locate - we recommend booking a taxi transfer in advance of your stay
  • Like most riads, it lacks some privacy (rooms open directly onto the courtyards, and some are on the small side)
  • The pool can be a little chilly at times, but it provides welcome respite from the summer heat
  • Rooms have air-con, satellite channels and CD players, but don’t expect flat-screen TVs, iPod docks or other gadgetry

Best time to go

The riad is open year-round, except August, when the owner takes a break from the heat. The cool, clear weather makes winter a good time to come (maybe for a Christmas shopping bonanza?) and the fireplaces mean this is a particularly cosy bolthole.

Our top tips

Book dinner at the hotel early in your stay - maybe even for arrival night - so you can see how good Fatima's fare is. After that - well, you can decide, but suffice to say that most guests rate Fatima's dinner their best meal.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Riad
  • 7
  • Breakfast + other meals by arrangement
  • All ages welcome
  • 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
  • Concierge Service
Room: Main house - First-Floor Room

Rooms

Narrow stairs wind up to the 7 double or twin bedrooms, which are spread over 2 floors in the main house and the adjacent guest wing. Most feature silk drapes, plump cushions, snuggly rugs and warm colours; they’re not as lavish as some riads, but the overall effect is homely and very comfortable.

The newer rooms in the guest wing are generally brighter-coloured. We stayed in the Red Room when we last visited in 2014, and we loved the vibrant walls (painted to match the bougainvillea outside) and the open fireplace (which staff will light on request). Rooms in the main house are decorated in more subdued tones and are further from the pool, so they're a little quieter.

All rooms have ensuite bathrooms with showers (the Ground-Floor Room in the main house also has a tub). Ours had an impressive domed ceiling, while the Yellow Room's bathroom is covered in chequered mosaics which are surprisingly gentle on the eye (and handy for a monster game of chess). The tapering stone shower enclosures are ingeniously practical (if only one’s torso was equally V-shaped), and you’ll find pool towels, bathrobes, toiletries and even bathroom scales.

Other practicalities include wall-mounted heating/air-con units, satellite TVs, DVD players, Hi-Fi units (there are DVDs and CDs to borrow downstairs) and, in the main house rooms, free WiFi. You won’t get high-spec gadgetry such as flat-screen TVs or iPod docks, but somehow that only adds to the charm of the place. Baby cots can be added to most rooms, but those wanting an extra bed should book the Red Room or one of the First-Floor Rooms in the main house.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

A good breakfast (all the standard continental fare plus muesli, eggs and cheese) is served either around a large cedar-wood table in the main house, by the open hearth of the guest-wing dining room, or under the sun on one of the roof terraces.

Other meals are available with advance notice, and the food is tasty stuff indeed. Beautifully prepared lunches normally consist of a choice of salads and hot dishes, served with fruit and orange juice - perhaps chicken with saffron rice and cumin, stuffed calamari, or tuna with preserved lemons and couscous. For dinner, chef Fatima, who has worked for Gaby since long before Riad Noga opened, can prepare either traditional Moroccan feasts or ‘international gourmet’ meals. We opted for the former, and tucked into delicious grilled artichokes, a lamb and sweet potato tagine and homemade ice cream, all washed down with a bottle of crisp white Moroccan wine.

If you fancy eating out, there are many good restaurants a short walk away and further afield in the newer part of town - Gaby and her staff can provide plenty of recommendations and book taxis if needed.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: Djemaa el Fna

Activities

  • Shopping is a national pastime, and the souks are only a short walk away (official guides can be arranged if you want any help with haggling)
  • Engross yourself in the all-singing, all-dancing, fire-eating, snake-charming, food-vending madness of Djemaa el Fna, 10 minutes' walk away
  • Visit some of the city's spectacular palaces, including El Bahia (where the Moroccan royal family stays when in town), vast El Badi, and pretty Dar Si Said, which houses a museum of Moroccan crafts
  • See art exhibitions at the Musée de Marrakech in the northern medina, then head over to the Maison de la Photographie nearby
  • Marvel at the tiled courtyards, mirror-still pools and ornate archways at Ben Youssef Medersa, a now-defunct Koranic school and one of the best examples of Islamic architecture in the city
  • Play golf at one of many 18-hole courses in the Palmeraie, 10-30 minutes away by 'petit taxi'
  • Visit a resident German painter and even buy some of his work (ask Gaby)
  • Escape to the Atlas Mountains for a trek, some fresh air and perhaps even a hot-air balloon ride - day trips with guides and transport can be arranged through the riad
  • Or head to the southern deserts for a camel trek or just a glimpse of the endless dunes
  • Trips to the Atlantic Coast - for a swim, a surf and a lunch of fresh fish - can also be arranged
  • In winter, the Oukaimeden ski centre (open December to March) is only an hour or so south of Marrakech

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking

Kids

Tranquillity being the riad’s trump card, children are expected to be well-behaved. That said, entertainments on offer include the pool, TV-surfing and the pets (including a whistling African grey parrot and a tortoise). There's a discount for under 12s in their own room; or they stay for free if sharing with parents (cots can be provided, and extra beds can be added to the Red Room and the First-Floor Rooms in the main house). Babysitting can also be arranged.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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