Riad Sapphire

Marrakech, Morocco Book from

Tranquil riad with simple elegant design, hammam and plunge pool
Marrakech is an exotic assault on the senses: smoke and spices on the breeze, the visual feast to be found in the seemingly never ending souks, the open-air banquets in the Djemaa el Fna, and that haunting (and rather early) call to prayer.

How lovely, by contrast, to stay in this soothing space, created from two family houses over a 2 year restoration period using traditional craftsmanship and authentic materials yet deploying a contemporary Zen-chic sensibility. An anonymous door gives onto two marble courtyards with a fountain apiece and a cooling plunge pool, linked by a comfortable small salon. There's a dining area on the floor above, plus a rooftop with seating and views aloft. The restful decorative scheme of white and grey is embellished only by some carved plaster, calligraphy, occasional artworks, and etched glass. Bespoke furniture is locally made and up to date. The 8 suites are spread over both storeys, and are named after jewels. The English owners, sisters Beryl and Barbara, are experienced at running riads and ably assist with reservations and recommendations. A gem.

Highs

  • A calm clean haven in deliberate contrast to the bustling Medina with restrained elegant interiors in both common areas and suites
  • Thoughtful, helpful service
  • Small solar-heated hammam and spa on the ground floor offering both Moroccan and western treatments
  • A choice of areas to relax in from the rooftop to 2 courtyards and a salon
  • Accessible room rates

Lows

  • Breakfast only, but other meals can be provided on request
  • Although many are referred to as 'suites', some rooms are not large
  • In a quieter, more out of the way part of the Medina which can be tricky to find - when you arrive a member of the team will meet you from the transfer drop-off point and help you get your bearings
  • Don't expect much in the way of in-riad entertainment - the point is that this is a less is more environment

Best time to go

Marrakech is at its best in the spring and autumn when temperatures are not too severe. That said, Riad Sapphire would be a delightful respite from the heat, and cosy enough in the chillier winter.

Our top tips

The souks seem overwhelmingly labyrinthine when you first dive in, but they aren't as confusing as you may initially think. It helps that the goods are located together by and large e.g. there are metalwork, leather goods, dyed yarn, lighting, slippers, spices and basket-weaving areas. Bring (or buy) an empty suitcase and enjoy the haggling process!

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
  • Boutique Riad
  • 8
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Satellite TV in salon
Room:

Rooms

Understated and calming, the 8 bedrooms are each named after jewel colours, denoted by little accents in their décor. As befits an old building, they are all unique in shape, size and layout.

Ground-floor Double / Twin Room Amethyst, has French doors onto the communal courtyards. Similarly, Junior Suite Sapphire opens onto the petite courtyard, a quieter part of the riad that gives the effect of having a semi-private terrace.

Up on the first floor, adjacent Luxury Suites Amber and Topaz are handily located for families. Each has a four-poster double bed and a wraparound sofa / single bed. We stayed in Topaz and loved its domed ceiling with inset coloured glass; Amber has a pyramid skylight. The Cinnibar Luxury Suite has a fireplace.

Of the two Suites, Ebony has a wonderful menzeh (a traditional latticed alcove) and Peridot has a chaise longue.

Walls are smooth white plaster; floors are polished grey tadelakt; cupboards have ample space. Grey tadelakt tiled shower bathrooms have complimentary Natus organic toiletries. Double / Twin Room Amethyst and Suite Peridot also have bathtubs.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is taken on the first-floor gallery or in the courtyard, or in room if you prefer, and consists of fruit salad, yoghurt, eggs cooked to order, freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh coffee or tea, and bread or Moroccan pancakes with butter and local jam. And you can eat at whatever time you choose. Gluten-free choices are available.

Other meals are available on request, (ideally one day in advance) see Rates. We had a most delicious lemon chicken tagine and creme caramel when we dined in one night. Traditional mint tea is available all day, and offered on arrival along with Moroccan pastries. There is no bar, but you can request drinks at any time from the staff.

Beryl and her team can make restaurant reservations; they recommend Dar Zellije, which serves traditional Moroccan food, has a great atmosphere and has a great roof terrace, just a minute's walk from Riad Sapphire and Spa.

Features include:

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

Activities

  • Shop as if your life depended on it in the Medina

  • Go on a day trip to the Atlas Mountains to take in some Berber culture

  • Relax at the riad in the calm courtyards, splash in the plunge pool, work on your tan on the rooftop

  • Enjoy a treatment in the spa or recline in the hammam

  • Visit the wondrous Majorelle Garden created by Yves Saint Laurent

  • Clutch a bunch of herbs to your nose while witnessing the almost medieval tanneries

  • Ride a camel in the Palmeraie

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being

Kids

Children are welcome here, but this isn't really the right set up for kids. There are no special facilities for them, unforgiving marble steps, an unfenced pool and a quiet calm ambiance suited to older couples.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can take a baby cot. Sapphire, Amethyst and Ebony can take an extra bed, Peridot has a chaise longue for a child to sleep on if required. Of the Luxury Suites, Topaz and Amber have sofas that can convert to single beds. Amber can take 2 extra children or adults, and Topaz one adult and one child. Peridot and Amethyst both have baths as well as showers.

Babysitting:

English speaking babysitters are available on request.

Kids Activities on site:

There are some games in the salon (Scrabble, Monopoly).

Families Should Know:

The marble stairs would be rather unforgiving for toddlers taking a tumble, and the plunge pool is unfenced. The rooftop is rather uneven and has steps without a balustrade.

Distances:

  • Airport: 20 minutes
  • Hospital: 15 minutes
  • Shops: 1 minute
Kid Friendly: Amber

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Riad Sapphire