Marrakech, Morocco

Riad de Tarabel

Rates from (ex tax)$193.41

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR190.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Unpretentious colonial elegance

Setting

Serene Medina sidestreet

Slate-blue and gray stay Riad de Tarabel is moments from the bustling Marrakech Medina. Its effortlessly elegant interior is dotted with French heirlooms and found antiques, but it’s perfectly understandable if you want to spend your entire holiday on its inviting terraces; have a drink while you soak in the view.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A bottle of wine on arrival.

Facilities

Photos Riad de Tarabel facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Six, including three suites.

Check–Out

12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 12 noon, also flexible.

Rates

Double rooms from $193.41 (€173), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.10 per person per night on check-out and an additional government tax of €1.50 per person per night on check-out.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR190.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates usually include free airport transfers and a generous Continental breakfast, with tasty extra options such as Moroccan crêpes and cooked-to-order eggs.

Also

Ask really nicely and you may wrangle a private cooking lesson with Riad de Tarabel’s first-class chef.

At the hotel

A local mobile phone to use throughout your stay, swimming pool, free WiFi throughout and laundry services. In rooms: Ortigia bath products and free bottled water; some rooms have working fireplaces.

Our favourite rooms

All Riad de Tarabel’s rooms are beautiful and individually finished, but the Large Suite has, in our opinion, the most impressive bathroom: it’s a split-level affair with an enormous bath tub that’s perfect for long soaks. The suite’s sitting room has an inviting day-bed, and owner Rose-Marie designed the grey patterned zellige tiles; the terrace looks out over the orange trees.

Poolside

The grey and black tiled heated outdoor pool is in a separate courtyard and is for adults only. Children are welcome in the small rooftop plunge pool, which is also perfect for perching by and dangling your legs into, drink in hand.

Packing tips

A classic Panama hat to fit in with the decor, and a good read to make the most of your down time.

Also

Arrange an in-room massage or mani-pedi.

Children

Welcome, although the riad is better suited to older children who can entertain themselves. However, the restaurant has a children’s menu and is happy to heat up baby food and bottles.

Food and Drink

Photos Riad de Tarabel food and drink

Top Table

Dinner can be served anywhere in the riad, but nothing beats dining outside on the terrace overlooking the maze of Medina rooftops.

Dress Code

Think cool linens and silks, flowy and floaty beach dresses, and romantic glints in the eye.

Hotel restaurant

La Table de Tarabel’s staff organise dinner à la carte with guests; it’s really more like enjoying a meal prepared by a personal chef who specialises in incredible Moroccan and international food than dining in a restaurant. For breakfast, Moroccan crêpes, cooked-to-order eggs, organic muesli, pâtissserie, cakes, home-made yoghurt, fresh fruits, fresh orange juice, marmalades, honey and hot drinks are on offer.

Hotel bar

There’s no bar, but you can order drinks to enjoy at any time of day or night.

Last orders

The restaurant is open from 12 noon until 10pm.

Room service

No room service as such, but ask nicely and your meals, snacks, and drinks can be delivered to almost anywhere in the riad.

Location

Photos Riad de Tarabel location
Address
Riad de Tarabel
8 Derb Sraghna, Quartier Dar El Bacha Marrakech Médina
Marrakech
40000
Marrakech
Morocco

Planes

Marrakech’s Menara Airport is 15 minutes away by car, and free airport transfers can be arranged with the hotel. Fly there from the UK and elsewhere in Europe with British Airways, Royal Air Maroc, EasyJet and Ryanair.

Trains

The Moroccan state railway, ONCF, runs inexpensive (but limited) services to the Marrakech Railway Station from Casablanca, Fez and Tangier. The station is 10 minutes away by car, and free transfers can be arranged with the hotel.

Automobiles

Driving in Marrakech can be horn-filled and hectic, so we don’t recommend hiring a car unless you’re heading elsewhere in Morocco, too. If you decide to hire a car from the airport, follow Al Mhamid Avenue to Avenue Guemassa, continue on Avenue Guemassa to Avenue Ahmed Ouaqala, then take Rue Dar el Glaoui to Route Sidi Abdelaziz. Look for signs to Dar el Bacha Palace, which is next to the hotel. Parking is available approximately five minutes’ walk from the hotel for about €5 a night.

Worth getting out of bed for

Riad de Tarabel is in the Medina, so in a few steps you can barter for treasures in the kaleidoscopic souk, then snack on pigeon pie from a stall in the Djemaa el Fnaa, amid snake charmers and belly-dancers. For a bit of calming green space, pop on over to Jardin Majorelle, a wonderland of greens, blues, and yellows bequeathed to Marrakech by Yves Saint Laurent – head in as early as you can to avoid the daily crowds. Over the road, 33 Rue Majorelle (+212 5243-14195) sells a stylist-curated collection of local art, and designer accessories, and is connected to the Kaowa (+212 (0)524330072) juice bar.

If you fancy getting out of town, plan a day-trip to the Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert or coastal town of Essaouira, all but a drive away, or be whisked by 4x4 to Berber villages, the Plateau de Kik, the Ourika Valley or Lake Takerkoust. The staff at the riad will also be happy to help you arrange diversions further afield: camel- or horse-riding day treks to the desert or the mountains, or ballooning.

Local restaurants

Try Le Tobsil (Derb Abdellah Ben Hessein, +212 5244-44052) for dinner; it’s a dark, candle-lit hideout tucked away down a maze of pink-walled alleys and is regularly hailed as one of the city’s best meals thanks to its table-filling Moroccan feasts. Handy guides can be dispatched to find lost guests and then escort them home afterwards. Le Foundouk (+212 5243-78190) also regularly tops where-to-eat-in-Marrakech wishlists. Al Fassia (+212 (0)524 434060) at 232 Ave Mohammed V serves traditional Moroccan cuisine in a highly untraditional manner – it's staffed and operated exclusively by women. Bô & Zin (+212 (0)524 388012) is an NY-style salon a little out of the way on the Ourika road, but worth the trek for contemporary cocktails and Southeast Asian dishes. Palais Soleiman (+212 (0)524 378962) on Dar Layardi and Palais Gharnata (+212 (0)544 389615) on Derb El Arsa both provide traditional Moroccan cuisine in beautiful surroundings. Le Grand Café de la Poste (+ 212 (0) 244 33038) has been around since the 1920s; it’s somewhat of an institution in Marrakech, with an art-deco setting of checkerboard floors, potted palms and pillow-piled sofas. 

 

Local cafés

The roof terrace of Café des Epices (+212 (0)524 391770) in the spice souk is popular with the young, arty Marrakech crowd. The no-frills, souk-side eatery Chez Chegrouni (+212 (0) 246 54761) offers classic dishes of skewered meat, lamb and plum tagine, and fluffy aromatic couscous at fabulous prices in Unesco-listed square Jemaa el Fna. They don’t take reservations so join the queue to devour hearty portions of traditional Moroccan fare. There’s no better spot for a mid-souk stop-off than Café Arabe. Ask for a rooftop table and admire the mountain views. 

Local bars

For pre- or post-dinner drinks, you should find yourself in blingy but brilliant La Mamounia’s classic Churchill bar at least once. 

Reviews

Photos Riad de Tarabel reviews

Anonymous review

Within the peaceful confines of boutique hotel Riad de Tarabel, I’m lying in a Victorian roll-top bath tub in front of an open fire. Mr Smith is here too – following what is clearly a very important football match on his phone – but there are no arguments over the stupidity of reading a phone while bathing, or who gets the tap end, because he’s in his own bath. Twin tubs and an open fire? This is my kind of room. Before you imagine a cosy British retreat, I should clarify – we’re in Marrakech and we’ve been sunbathing all day. December is the perfect time to visit Morocco for some winter sun that doesn’t leave you feeling unseasonably summery just before Christmas.

The last time we visited the city Winston Churchill once described as ‘the most lovely spot in the whole world,’ we were here for adventure. A seven-foot tall hooded gentleman followed us down a dark alley before we realised he was escorting us to our restaurant; we got trapped between a donkey and a moped in a chaotic corner of the souk; and we ate unidentified things on skewers. This time we want to relax – we had agreed, somewhat decadently, that we wouldn’t leave Riad de Tarabel from the moment the (complimentary) driver drops us off until the moment he picks us up. Not even Djemaa el-Fna market traders, Chleuh dancing-boys and snake charmers; nor the haggling opportunities of the souks; northe highly recommended Maison de la Photographie, would tempt us outside.

A member of the riad’s staff greets us, dressed in white knee-high socks, cropped white harem pants and a smock, finished off with red Converse boots and a fez. He leads us down a series of dark and narrow alleys we would have hesitated to traverse alone. ‘Welcome to Tarabel.’ We stoop through a fortress-like door into a courtyard, where a babbling fountain and orange-laden trees set the scene for the weekend and instantly confirm our decision to stay put. (Especially as it transpired that the riad has its own shop – no haggling required!)

Inherently inward-looking buildings, riads are often un-noteworthy from the outside, but luxurious within; this is no exception. Built in French-colonial style around three courtyards, the thick-set walls protect guests from the sun and the Medina’s chaos. Alongside two bath tubs and an open fire, our Junior Suite has a traditional tiled floor, a double bed with enormous pillows and marble-topped bamboo tables, a pair of antique armchairs and a shower that’s best described as Moroccan-hammam-meets-Victorian-luxury. The riad’s refined sandy-beige and charcoal-grey palette is the perfect backdrop for wicker furnishings, antique maps and a flock of (stuffed) exotic birds. It’s luxurious enough to make you feel spoilt, without making you worry about spilling your sun cream. It feels like a home away from home, albeit nicer than our actual home – and with staff.

With promised temperatures in the 20s, we head straight to the roof terrace. Each guest gets a mobile phone on arrival with two numbers in the contacts – the kitchen’s and the manager’s, ‘so that if you need something, you can just call.’ Initially reticent to be so demanding (‘You call,’ ‘No, you do it,’ ‘I’m too shy,’), we phone down for lunch, and soon a table is set with a white tablecloth, silver cutlery and green and gold tableware. A vegetable pastilla sends Mr Smith into a state of rapture.

Sated and by now slightly sweaty, we hit the pool. After a bold start, Mr Smith decides that standing knee-deep is just as refreshing as a swim; I busy myself with making watery footprints around the edges. The near-freezing water is no doubt refreshing in high summer, but right now, we’re in danger of losing toes.

We while away the afternoon reading on an ornately carved four-poster day-bed on the roof. Just beyond the aloe-vera-topped walls surrounding us, khobz sellers ply their trade – hawking traditional flatbreads to passers by; burka-covered ladies barter over spices; and family-laden mopeds hare around tiny streets; however, the only sounds we hear are circling birds overhead and the hauntingly beautiful call to prayer sung out from nearby mosques five times a day. Our view: plane contrails in the sky above.

Suddenly starving, we change for dinner and sit by another roaring fire. A recent convert to vegetarianism, I eye Mr Smith’s chicken and green-olive tagine enviously, while he devours both that and my veggie alternative. ‘You can dip some bread into my sauce,’ he offers generously, without a hint of a smirk. Chocolate soufflé finishes us off and only lashings of mint tea save our stuffed stomachs in time for bed.

We wake to the sound of a distant cockerel, revelling in the knowledge that you have nothing to do. Breakfast is served from 8am until ‘whenever you’d like it,’ so we amble up to the roof at about nine. Fruit, yoghurt and pastries are followed by pancakes and cake, and – despite sacrificing the honey to a nearby table to keep bees away – we polish off the lot. We devise a hectic schedule of lunch, massages and dinner. An on-site hammam is in the works, so with relief and disappointment in equal measure, we forego being scrubbed to within an inch of our lives and instead book an in-room massage. We could barely leave our room without someone making the bed, replacing the water, or even ironing our eveningwear, so when we returned this time, it was no surprise to find it transformed with candles, Berber music and massage beds. An hour later, we emerge relaxed from head to toe and that’s how we stay for the rest of the weekend.

We wonder, could we move into Riad de Tarabel? Or at least smuggle some staff members home? We agree on a weekend getaway every December and a new ensuite with twin bath tubs for our new house. In the meantime, Mr Smith will keep trying to crack that vegetable pastilla recipe.

 

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Riad de Tarabel’s Guestbook below.

We loved

The uber chic decor, the location in the middle of the Medina, the attentive staff and the relaxing rooftop.

Rating

Stayed on 26 May 2017

We loved

The staff, the interior design, the setting, infact we loved everything about Riad Tarabel. Go on a camel ride, which Laurent, the manager, can arrange.

Rating

Stayed on 16 Nov 2016

We loved

The stylish architecture and decor of the Riad Laurent, the amazing Manager Although there is no restaurant, the lunch and dinner we had there was the best!

Don’t expect

Mini Bars and TV, not that kind of place.

Rating

Stayed on 18 Oct 2016

We loved

Being secluded and the service was impeccable. The manager, Laurent, and his staff were excellent.

Rating

Stayed on 12 Oct 2016

We loved

Loved the decor, the peace and quiet within the Riad and the lovely staff. Majorelle gardens were stunning. Nomad restaurant and gift shop are a must.

Don’t expect

Roudy neighbors. It has more of a home feel than a crowded resort.

Rating

Stayed on 7 Jun 2016

We loved

Relaxed peace and quiet

Don’t expect

Fitness centre

Rating

Stayed on 27 May 2016

We loved

Everything about this place. The riad itself was impeccably designed and decorated. The staff were attentive and extremely helpful. Laurent, who manages the riad, sat down with us and helped us plan our days. His recommendations were exactly what we would have chosen. The whole experience was perfect.10/10

Don’t expect

Noise from the medina. The riad was tranquil, despite being centrally located.

Rating

Stayed on 12 Mar 2016

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