Riad Kaïss in the heart of the Old Medina in Marrakech is the most charming little hotel ever. It's a Riad, traditional Moroccan house- Used to be the Harem of Moulay Yacoub one of Morocco's Sultans and dates back to the 1800s. The Riad consists of a courtyard surrounded by rooms, this boutique hotel had a total of 9 guest rooms including 2 suits with private terraces which is what we got. You can't get to the hotel by car as it drops you off at the closest point cars can get but after that you have to get a guy with a kart wheel to walk you to the hotel as he wheel your luggage along.
Moroccan traditional Riads take after Islamic Architecture greatly. The exterior of the buildings are usually subtle and blank with minimal if any detailing , the entrance is only lavish here because this Riad was turned into a hotel. Riads and traditional Moroccan houses also do not have any windows facing the streets, their exterior doors have no windows to maintain the security of the house and keep the insides out of sight (for modesty and envy related reasons). As a rule of thumb, if you are in Marrakech and you see old houses then you are in a previously Jewish neighborhood, as when Jews migrated to Morocco from Spain they were used to having windows in their houses.
As you walk into the Riad you are welcomed by colors, patterns, tiles, intricate and lavish detailing and roses, everywhere!
We found out the secret to the great amounts of roses we saw everywhere, our hotel manager took us around the Marrakech markets and showed us a few florist shops. Apparently 100 roses cost 100 Dirhams which is less than 50 QAR and a little over 12 USD!!!! I don't think you can beat that price anywhere.
Main Lobby! the hotel isn't your normal hotel, staying at Riad Kaiss feels like your staying in a friend's home, it's cozy and warm and far away from being formal and rigid. The Hotel has a mini courtyard that you first walk into, surrounded by the kitchen, service kitchen, office, and storage. There is also another bigger inner yard which is more like a garden separated from this one by arches and that's where food is served.
The smaller courtyard has a small fountain, some palm trees, and is surrounded by the Riad's kitchen, service kitchen, storage, office, and stair cases that either lead up to the rooms, roof top terrace, or spa.
the two courtyards are separated by a series of "horseshoe arches" also called Moorish arches and Keyhole archarches. and as you walk into the inner courtyard you can't help but be at Ah.
The inner couryard is a beautiful garden with a central fountain and a wall water feature. The garden dates back to the 1800s and has cactuses, fruit trees, and shade trees. This garden is where breakfast, lunch, and dinner is served so that you can enjoy the view, birds chirping, and soft breeze.
The inner courtyard is surrounded with comfy areas to eat at, this is one of those corners, a banquet topped with a beautiful intricate ceiling and Muqarnass work. You can see the ethnic fusion in the decor of the hotel; Traditional Islamic "Andalusi", African, Beduin, which represents all the ethnic backgrounds in Morocco.
They of course welcome you with a nice glass of Moroccan tea "Tai"
that you can enjoy while pleasing your eyes looking at this
Part of the package that we signed up for at Riad Kaiss was a cooking lesson for 2, a beautiful experience that you must try out with your partner, we enjoyed, bonded, and had lots of fun and it's a beautiful way to introduce yourself to the country's cuisine, so I'd definitely do that next time I'm in a new country.
the three of us were actually cooking; me, my new husband, and the Riad's chef Saida. There were no helpers, no sue chefs and together we made 5 different traditional Moroccan salads, 7 vegetables kuskus, and lamb and prunes tagine, DELISH. We were in the hot kitchen for over 2 hours.
this is me and Saida as we separate the lamb meat from the fat
and of course they set up a nice table for use to eat at in the courtyard
and this is the starter dish that we made, it includes 5 different traditional Moroccan salads, and I stopped taking pictures of the food after this one as the food was too good to wait for pictures to be snapped
So, you go up those lovely stairs and beautifully flesh in the wall mosaic style skirting up to the first floor where there is a beautiful salon
the salon has a nice small terrace where you can enjoy your afternoon tea
ps: everything is covered in tiles, mosaics, zellaij, if your a hopeless romantic when it comes to interior details your heart will skip a few beats in this Riad
in the center of the salon sits a beautiful fire place- it gets really cold in the winter- flanked by two seating areas and an array of bookcases full of history, design, cooking, and all sorts of specialty books both new and ancient. On top of that bench is a chess board and some other oriental traditional board games for guests to entertain themselves the old way
exiting the terrace of the salon you can either go down and back to the courtyard or up to our suit through this suit hand painted door. They even tile the stairs risers
These are the steps you take to go up to our suit which consisted of a small bedroom/sitting area with a fireplace and then an private open terrace that leads into the bedroom.
We were served dinner on our private terrace in our suit the first night that we arrived and I must say, food in this place is delicious. Well, let me rephrase that, food in Morocco is delicious, there that's more like it.
and if you thought dinner on the private terrace was something you just know you have to have breakfast there too.
And let me tell you something, this amazing two trays of breakfast for two kept us full for a long time and again, delish. The hotel serves omelets in your preferred style along with traditional Moroccan breakfast which is that pastries platter, along with yogurt and fruit, jams, butter, orange juice, and your choice of tea, moroccan tea, or coffee. This hotel is seriously generous with their serving quantities. btw I never had orange juice that tasted so rich and naturally sweet in my entire life like I did in Morocco, everywhere. I think my blood was 80% orange juice by the time we left Morocco.
so enough about the food as I'm getting hungry looking at the pictures and reminiscing. This was our suit's bedroom, again you can see the fusion of styles and some french influence in the design of the room.
the room had a reading bench and two built in bookcases full of books of all sorts- really nice ones. It also had a shower, toilet, and vanity, no bath and a dressing room.
to read more about Riad Kaiss and the Sanssouci Collection log into their website. They have 2 other hotels within the old Medina and they are all equally beautiful and exquisite.