All around the world Morocco is famous for it’s carpets and many travellers land in Marrakech in search of a quality piece of authentic craftwork. But it is rare to find a carpet seller who sells quality products, at fixed prices, without the tourist-spiel. However, the El Wifak Carpet Cooperative, located in the Ensemble Artisanal in Marrakech’s Medina, is one such place.
Located just a five minute walk from the Koutoubia Mosque and Jemaa el-Fna, the Ensemble Artisanal is the antithesis of the Souks: the atmosphere is relaxed and the prices are fixed, so no haggling!! Whilst looking through the many shops at the Ensemble Artisanal, we stumbled across the El Wifak Carpet Cooperative and were welcomed by Mustapha Alaoui; who happily spent over half an hour with us talking about carpets, the cooperative and his life.
Mustapha told us that he used to work in the government’s department for Artisanal craftwork, checking the quality of carpets and grading them based on various criteria. It quickly became clear that this man had a strong passion for and a large knowledge of traditional Moroccan carpets; a passion and knowledge he was enthusiastic to share. He explained that, the historic isolation of rural communities meant that peoples of different areas developed very individual styles. He continued to explain that El Wifak sold three kinds of carpet: Berber ‘Kilim’ carpets, used for throws, rugs or hung on walls, Tapestry carpets, made from wool and Arabic carpets, also made from wool, which tended to be bigger in size. Where the ‘Kilim’ carpets were made in the Atlas Mountains in Berber villages, both the Tapestry and Arabic carpets are made by the El Wifak Cooperative.
El Wifak, Arabic for sharing equally or a group of people in agreement, consists of around 70 women who make the carpets sold in the shop. (Traditionally, in Morocco, women make carpets and pottery whilst Men make jewelry and metal utensils.) The most important this about the cooperative is that everyone profits from all these sales are shared equally and everyone benefits. So, if you are looking for a quality product from a reputable source, if you are looking for an ethically sourced souvenir, or even if you are just put off by haggling in the Souks then this is the place for you.
The Ensemble Artisanal and the El Wifak Cooperative is located at the start (or the end, depending which way round you walk) of the ‘Needle and Thread’ Medina Walk available for free MarrakechRiad app. If you would like to find out more about the free MarrakechRiad app, the ‘Woodworking’ walk or any of our other Medina walks then our Riad staff would be happy to help.
Whilst walking around Marrakech, it is impossible not to notice how many of the doors, window shutters and wooden tables are carefully adorned with exquisite carvings or intricately painted tessellated patterns. These humble items extend far beyond their functional use: the beautiful designs, that are so unique to the region, represent a certain respect for traditional design and artisanal techniques that is prevalent throughout society.
Where it is easy to find small stalls in the Souks inhabited by skilled workers making beautiful wooden item like small boxes or chess sets, items that are perfect for souvenirs, it is perhaps more difficult to find the workshops that make the larger items like the Riad doors, the carved wooden panelling and so on. Located a short walk form the Jemaa el-Fna square, just metres away from Dar Habiba we found Abdil’s workshop. Abdil, a quiet man of little words, invited us into his space to show us his work: we looked through a series of beautifully painted panels that he uses as samples to demonstrate his work to clients before he showed us a carved doorframe he was currently working on for a Riad renovation. He explained that he mainly works for local businesses, but he has in the past also worked for visitors to Marrakech who wanted to take home a unique item to furnish their house. Perhaps you will need more than the basic hand luggage allowance to take home such an item, but a custom-made piece of artisanal history would maybe be the greatest souvenir of all.
Abdil’s shop is located just off the ‘Woodworking’ Medina Walk on the free MarrakechRiad app; but it is well worth the detour, especially if you are interested in bringing home a special memory of Morocco. If you would like to find out more about the free MarrakechRiad app, the ‘Woodworking’ walk or any of our other Medina walks then our Riad staff would be happy to help.
Candlelight is one of the delights of Marrakech, a mediaeval city just three hour flight away and ideal for a romantic short break.
Enjoy a candlelit dinner on your arrival evening.
Soak of the atmosphere after dark in the candlelit courtyard.
There has never been a better time to stay in a Luxury Marrakech Riad.
The arabic word Rais usually means ships captain, the berber language has borrowed this word to describe the leader of a group, like this one, that play with the traditional Ribab instrument. Recorded live in the Jemma al Fnaa square Marrakech at the time of the Marrakech Film festival 2011, note the giant outdoor screen in the background.
There a many beautiful hotels and Apartments in Marrakech, as there are all over the world. The really unique opportunity when visiting the Red City is to experience a traditional Riad courtyard home.
Most of the souvenirs on offer in the Marrakech Souks are produced locally, often just a short walk from the shops where they are sold. Don’t be shy about asking for a special size or design, they can usually be produced to order amazingly quickly.
Marrakchi artisan Azdine supports his young family by making ‘treasure boxes’ of all sizes using wood, ‘maichault’ pressed metal and coloured pieces of bone. His workshop is in the Fondouk Almelak near to the Chrob Chauf fountain in Central Marrakech.
We are grateful to our guests at our Riad hotels who have been wonderfully supportive recommending us to family and friends. With so few rooms at each Riad we have, more often than we would have liked, had to explain that we were fully booked for returning guests preferred dates. It seems our Marrakech Riads are not such a well kept secret as they used to be.
It was not easy finding for the right Riad to ‘join the family’ a painstaking process since, as one of our Moroccan friends puts it, ‘you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince!’ Eventually, after years of searching we were thrilled to find a beautiful light spacious Riad in the Central Medina with delightful features including intricately carved plaster decoration and Cedar woodwork in an Art Deco style. We instinctively loved the blend of European and Moroccan architecture and it was impossible to miss a quality of craftsmanship the full significance of which was only to become clear later. Of course the house needed more than a little TLC after years of neglect but there was no doubt about it we had found a STAR so the day we got the keys we lost no time registering the name Riad Star with the Marrakech authorities.
Our central medina district is full of history. Guests at Riad Cinnamon enjoy the luxury of staying only a few hundred metres from three of the most important monuments in Marrakech, the Almoravid Kouba (believed to be the oldest building in the Medina), the Koranic School or Medersa attached to the Ben Yussef Mosque and the Marrakech Museum.
The history of the Museum is fascinating, built as a Palace in classic Andalusian style (the history of North Africa and Southern Spain being inextricably intertwined) it was only recently restored as a museum which opened in 1997. In fact the Palace complex extended further to the north than the current museum and included what are now a number of elegant independent dwellings accessed from Derb Alilich our newly discovered Riad Star being one of them.
Meeting our new neighbours was a delight, they were kind enough to show us inside their homes, atmospheric Riad courtyards with elegant proportions and suites of rooms decorated with zellige of Fez tiles under cedar wood ceilings. It was talking to a neighbour that we made an amazing discovery. ‘Did you know that a big star used to live in your house?’ Our new friend, born in the street but now retired explained that in the 1940’s when Pachah Thami El Glaoui was at the hight of his powers the Palace that is now the museum belonged to the Pachah’s family and the renowned Josephine Baker lived in the Palace complex. Miss Baker’s life story is truly remarkable, she rose rapidly from humble beginnings in St Louis, Missouri to superstardom in Paris in the 1920’s and 30’s becoming a French national and distinguishing herself in the French Resistance as well as the American civil rights movement. Fame and status notwithstanding it is for her human warmth that Josephine is remembered in Derb Alilich. The following short film dating from many years later in 1974 gives a glimpse of possibly why.
The Koutoubia mosque was built in the 12th century under the Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur to be the crowning glory of his North African based empire, it is indeed today still the largest mosque to be found in Marrakech today. The structure stands 69 metres tall towering over the surrounding city, an impressive structure by any account. However it was during the period of imperialism under the French that it was decreed that no structure in the rest of marrakech was permitted to be taller than the Koutoubia, thereby sealing the Mosque’s place in Marrakech’s architectural history. The name of the Koutoubia derives from the Arabic for library as the mosque used to be surrounded by sellers of religious manuscripts thereby gaining the mosque literary connotations that led to it being quasi designated a library. Although the actual mosque itself does not permit non-muslims to enter a non-muslim can still observe the majesty of the mosque from the outside of the Building.
The prayer hall within the mosque is one of the largest of its kind and has the capacity to house up to 25,00 people at any one time. Adjacent to the mosque are archaeological remains of the original mosque which it is believed was rebuilt to correct its orientation to Mecca. These remains are accessible to visitors and can be seen through glazed protective cases. The fabulous Rose gardens adjacent to the Mosque are an oasis of calm in the city used by locals and tourists alike, a must for any Marrakech holiday.
Stay in one of our luxury Marrakech Riads, the perfect base to explore the ancient red city.
The donkey and cart is a common sight in the medina of Marrakech where the streets are too narrow for truck and vans. These docile and dependable creatures, known as ‘brill’ in arabic are essential to everyday life.
A Riad hotel in the Medina is the perfect base from which to explore and experience this ancient way of life at first hand.
The old town of Marrakech is known as the Medina, set inside an ancient city wall and in many ways little changed since the middle ages. The perfect place for your Marrakech medina stay is a restored Riad hotel, constructed around a courtyard garden.
Moroccan summer days can be extremely hot. The dipping pools in our Marrakech Riads are perfect for cooling off. We also have air conditioning in all rooms. Riad Cinnamon even has a second dipping pool on the spacious roof terrace.
Svenge is a widely available in Marrakech, often served from street food stalls. Rings of dough deep fried in oil, usually sold tied in bunches of five. Svenge is eaten at breakfast or as a snack throughout the day.
Riad Le Clos des Arts, Riad Zitoun J’Did 50 Derb, la Prefecture Medina near le Palais Bahia
Riad El Mansour, 227 Derb Jdid | Bab Doukkala, Medina
Dar Silsila, 11 Derb Jdid Laksour
Riad Al Massarah, 26 Derb Djedid, Bab Doukkala
Riyad Al Moussika, 62 Derb Boutouil, Kennaria
Riad Les Trois Palmiers, 36 Derb Tizougarine, Dar El Bacha
Riad Kheirredine, 44, derb chourafa ex derb draoua, sidi ben slimane
Dar Ayniwen Villa Hotel, Tafrata – Palmeraie de Marrakech
Riad Elizabeth, Derb el Baroud 33, Hart Essoura
Riad Aguerzame, 66 derb jdid
Riad Dar Dialkoum, 317 derb Jdid, derb Nakhla, Bab Doukkala
Riad Reves D’orient, 44 derd abib allah, Medina – quartier mouassine
Riad Dar Najat, Derb Lalla Chacha 18, Douar Graoua
Riad Mur Akush, Derb Zaouia 2, Bab Doukkala
Riad Jonan, 35 Derb Bzou, Kasbah Medina
Riad les Orangers d’Alilia Marrakech, 216, rue Tadla, Derb Chtouka Marrakech-medina
Les Borjs de la Kasbah, Rue du Mechouar, Kasbah
Riad Amirat Al Jamal, 33 Rue Fhal Zefritti
Riad Menzeh, 34 derb El Arsa, SIDI AYOUB
Riad Slawi, 92 Derb Ahmed el Borj, Sidi Ben Slimane, Kaa Sour
Riad Tizwa, 26 Derb Gueraba, Dar El Bacha
Riad Lorsya, 61, Derb El Hammam, Mouassine
Derb Eliane, Derb El Maada, No 39 Azbezt
Dar Selwan & Spa, 12, Res Al Bassatine, La Palmeraie
Riad Dar Anika, Riad Zitoun Kedim No 112
Riad Hayati, 27 Derb Bouderba, Riad Zitoun Jdid
Zamzam Riad, 107, Rue Kaa El Machraa
Al Fassia Aguedal, MH 9 bis route de l’Ourika
Riad Tzarra, 22 Derb Lalla Azzouna, Medina
Riad Maipa, 5, derb Jdid- Derb Dabbachi, Marrakech Medina
Es Saadi Palace, Avenue El Quadissia, Hivernage
Le Rihani, 52 derb el Arsa Kenaria
Les Jardins de la Medina, Derb Chtouka, 21, Kasbah de Marrakech
Riad Alamir, My Abdellah Ben Hsein, Ksour
Riad Monika, 29 Hart Soura
MonRiad, 4 Derb Lahbasse, Riad Zitoun
Riad Dar Zahia, 60 derb El Hammam, Mouassine
Maison Arabo Andalouse, Derb Touareg 66-67, Kasbah
Riad Dar Attajmil, 23, Rue Laksour, Quartier Laksour
Riad Jomana, 62 Arset Aouzal, Bab Doukkala, Medina
Riad Ariha, 90, Derb Ahmed Elborj – Sidi Ben, Slimane, Kaa Sour
Riad Karmela, 10 Derb El Feranne Azbetz, Place Ben Salah
Riad Les Trois Mages, 11 derb Jamaa, Marrakech
La Maison Arabe, 1, Derb Assehbe – Bab Doukkala
Riad Farnatchi, 2 Derb el Farnatchi, Rue Souk el Fassis, Qua’at Ben Ahid
Dar Crystal, Derb El Fath no5, Es Salam
Riyad El Cadi, 87 Derb Moulay Abdelkader, Dabachi
Villa Dar Zina, 4, Lot Jnane Brika, Rte de Targa
Riad Massiba, 38, Route Douar Graoua
Dar Tasnime, 131 Derb Hammam, Kasbah
Riad Noor Charana, Houmat Ben Sahl, Derb el kebir n°31
Riad Bakara, 21, derb Ennour, Arset El Houta
Dar Rocmarra, Derb el Halfaoui, 29, Bab Doukkala
Riad Yasmine, 209 Diour Saboune , Bab Taghzout
Riad Amazighen, 4 bis, Arset Guessous. Bab Lakhmis
Riad La Rose D’Orient, 17-18 derb draoua-sidi soussan-medina, Bab Lalla Aouda Saadia
Dar el Souk, 56 Derb Jdid, Riad Zitoun Ked
Riad Hizad, 80 Derb el Cadi
Riad La Porte Rouge, 48 Derb Jamaa
Riad l’Oiseau du Paradis, 27, Derb Cherrata, Arset El Houta
Riad Porte Royale, Marrakech, Morocco
Riad Diana, 85 Derb Jdid, Quartier Riad Zitoune Lakdim
Riad Nesma, 128 Riad Zitoune Lakdim, Medina
Riad Ajebel, derb chotuka 91, kasbah
Riad Les Bougainvilliers, 5, derb Ben Amrane, Riad Zitoun Lakdim, Médina
Dar Soukaina, 19 Derb El Ferranne, Riad Laarouss
Riad Carllian, 24,25 Derb Dabachi – Derb Jamaa
Riad Baba Ali, 74 Derb Baba Ali, Moukef
Dar Les Cigognes, 108 rue de Berima
Riad Djemanna, 69 derb el Halfahoui, Bab Doukkala
Riad 5 Sens, 10 et 11, derb El Baroud, Hart Es Soura
Riad Alma, Derb Kbala 77, Kasbah
Riad de la Belle Epoque, 29 Derb Sidi Bouamar
Riad Dollar Des Sables, 13 Derb Deffa Ourbaa, Laksour Smarinne
Ryad Dyor, 1 Derb Driba Jdida Sidi Ben Slimane
La Villa des Orangers, 6 rue Sidi Minoun
Riad Meriem, 97 Derb El Cadi, Azbest, Medina
Dar Zemora, Rue el Aandalib
Dar El Kanoun, Route de Targa, Lotissement Farida, Villa 64
Riad O2, 97-98 Derb Semi Ben Slimanemaria – Sid, Sidi Ahmed soussi, Zaouia
Palais Sebban, 43 Derb Moulay Abdellah Ben Hsseine, Quartier Laksour
La Sultana Marrakech, 403 rue de la kasbah, Kasbah
Hotel La Renaissance, 89 Angle Bld Zerktouni et Mohamed V Gueliz, Gueliz
Riad Chouia Chouia, 40 rue Fahl Zefriti Ksour, Djemmaa el fna
ClubHotel Riu Tikida Palmeraie, Route Fes, km 6
L’Heure d’Ete, 96, sidi Bouloukat
Riad Samsara, 6, Derb El Aarsa, Tarzout -Médina
Les Deux Tours, Douar Abiad BP 513, Circuit de la Palmeraie
Riad Asna, 20, Derb Ezzamouri, Bab Doukkala
Riad Les Jardins Mandaline, 55, derb Ferrane Riad Laarouss
Riad Noir d’Ivoire, 31, Derb jdid Bab Doukkala
Riad Charlott’, 10 Sidi Ahmed Benacer, Kaat Bennahid
Maison MK, 14 Derb Lafkih Sbaai, Quartier Ksour, Medina
Riad Dar One, 19 derb Jemaa el Kabir, Hay Salam
Riad Kniza, 34 Derb l’Hotel, Bab Doukkala
Riad Assakina, Derb Alaati Allah, 14, Hay Salam
Hotel Kasbah Dar Ilham, Km 13, Road to Fes
Riad Zolah, 114-116 Derb El Hammam, Mouassine, El Haouz
Dar Charkia, 50 Derb El Halfaoui, Bab Doukkala
Riad 58 Blu, Derb Jdid 58, Douar Graoua
From October 2010 Budget airline Ryanair offers convenient morning flights Rome on four days a week, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We can arrange to have you collected at Marrakech Menara airport and whisked away to one of our luxury Marrakech Riads for brunch. With Ryanair’s low fares and our special offers a luxury break in Marrakech has never been more convenient or more affordable! Reserve accommodation today!
Slilou is one of a number of seasonal specialities prepared during Ramadan. It consists of a blend of nuts and spices ground to a fine powder and eaten with teaspoons, usually from a shared dish during the ‘breakfast’ after sundown. Slilou is a high energy food, and it’s absolutely delicious!
Marrakech Riad Papillon has a fantastic dipping pool in the courtyard. Perfect for cooling off in the hot summer months.
The pool is tiled with intricate Zellige from Fes, a real work of Marrakechi craftsmanship. Its sympathetic shape is the product of many hours of reflection by Lucie and our super architect, Chris Redecke.