News from the Riad

Want to take a break in Morocco?

You want to travel to Marrakech for a break during Covid-19? The situation regarding flights and restrictions and/or vaccine/PCR test requirements is constantly changing. It is best to visit the Moroccan National Tourist Office website for the latest information. The Marrakech airport website also has the latest information on arriving in Morocco by plane. You should also check advice from your own national foreign office about travel to and from Morocco. For UK residents it is Morocco travel advice -GOV.UK . Special Authorised flights will start from 15 June 2021. Most cafes and restaurants are now open. More and more souks are opening, and entertainers in Jeema el Fna have started again. There is a curfew from 21.00 to 06.00, which can be ignored if you have a vaccine pass. A pass also officially enables you to travel around the country.

The Moroccan authorities have announced that wearing a mask outside your home is now mandatory.

On the 20 March 2020 Morocco entered a State of Health Emergency. This has now been further extended to 31 October 2021. The State of Emergency enables authorities to take urgent measures, including the extension of curfew measures, travel bans, and movement restrictions. It has been customary during the pandemic for the government to extend the date monthly. Also, they have introduced restrictions, including travel bans, at very short notice, which has sometimes caused travel problems. Most countries have left it to commercial airlines to provide repatriation flights when borders have closed and that has sometimes created difficulties for tourists to get home.

The Riad is now open, and we have to comply with new hygiene regulations to make your stay as safe as possible. At the moment this means 75% occupancy. There are other measures around the Riad that apply to us and to our guests. We will inform you of these before your arrival. We have introduced more flexible terms and conditions for reservations, which mean that we no longer take a deposit before arrival. However there is a 15% charge if the reservation is cancelled 48 hours or less before the date of arrival, or in the event of a no show.

COVID-19 and Marrakech

On the 20 March 2021, Morocco entered a State of Health Emergency. This has now been further extended to 10 June 2021. The State of Emergency enables authorities to take urgent measures, including the extension of curfew measures, travel bans, and movement restrictions. It has been customary during the pandemic for the government to extend the date on a monthly basis. Also they have introduced restrictions, including travel bans, at very short notice, which has sometimes caused travel problems. Most countries have left it to commercial airlines to provide repatriation flights when borders have closed and that has sometimes created difficulties for tourists to get home.

The Moroccan authorities have announced that wearing a mask outside your home is now mandatory.

All scheduled flights to or from Morocco are suspended. There has not been any official announcement of when borders will open and flights resume. Passenger and ferry links to Europe have also been suspended.

The Riad remains closed whilst borders are closed and there are no flights in or out of the country.

In Marrakech during Ramadan very few cafes are open, and only a few restaurants. They all close at 19.00. There is a curfew from 20.00 which is only partially observed, although the police have powers of on the spot fines. Shops that cater just for tourists, including a lot of souks, are mostly closed. 

Want to get away post Covid-19 crisis?

Thinking of getting away with your family or friends once the crisis is over? Either as a group and taking over the whole Riad for a few days; exploring one of the most sought-after cities in Africa or leaving the chaos of the city and experiencing the natural beauty and serenity in this amazing country of contrasts. Contact us to put you on a special mailing list for future bookings and we will let you know when we can take bookings again, and special offers to tempt you back to Marrakech and Morocco.

What is a hammam?

Hammam is the Arabic word for ‘bath’. In Morocco it has come to mean the ritual carried out either in a public hammam, spa or, like us, our own private hammam in the Riad. We provide everything - bathrobes, disposable slip/boxers, spa products, towels and slippers.  It needs to be booked beforehand so that we can heat the room and book the therapist, traditionally male for a man and female for a woman. You enter the spa space in your bathrobe, slippers and slip/boxers. You disrobe to enter the hammam. The therapist pours warm water over you, you then lie down and savon beldi, a natural mix of olive oil pressings and potash perfumed with eucalyptus is spread over your body. You let your body relax and get warm. This is then rinsed off and your skin is gently exfoliated with a special glove - kessa. There is another rinsing and soaping and another buffing with a chbka. Then ghassoul, an Atlas clay wrap, is applied to draw out more impurities from the skin. Finally, there is another rinse and washing. You leave the hammam relaxed and very clean. Additional treatments are offered in the hammam - a face mask, body mask & short massage or hair treatment. Our therapists can also offer tqsal, a stretching massage done on the floor of the hammam when your body is warm. All these treatments must be booked beforehand. To complete the experience a massage can be booked in the adjacent massage space. Couples can be treated one after the other, the second person going in to the hammam when the first comes out and takes a massage. Alternatively, our masseur can give a hammam to a couple at the same time. A hammam, exfoliation and clay wrap take about 45 minutes, a massage about an hour. Tqsal adds about another 15 – 20 minutes. There are many spas in Marrakech now. Some of the public hammams have moved a little upmarket and cater for tourists, but very much in the traditional manner. Our local hammam by the big Friday mosque Bab Doukkala has recently had a makeover. Men only mornings and evenings, women only afternoons. The tourist spas range from budget to luxury, with décor and treatments to match. If couples or groups want their treatments at the same time, then Les Bains d’Orient and Hammam de la Rose are nearby. Though they can’t beat having a treatment and retreating to your room still in your bathrobe and having a long relax on your bed.

Off the beaten track in Marrakech?

Want to find our favourite places? Download the Mapstr app once you have made a reservation with us. Send us your GSM/mobile phone number and we will share our map and places. We have put all our favourite restaurants, cafés, shops and sights, including the off the beaten track ones you won't find in most guide books. We'll still give you a map and orientation when you arrive, but this will help you find the ones you want to visit.

THINKING OF A DESERT TRIP?

First, most important, most two day one night tours from Marrakech will not get you to either of the sand dunes on the edge of the Sahara, Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga. Watch out for agencies that say Desert or Sahara experience, but do not get you to Erg Chigaga. So if you are visiting Marrakech and want a desert experience the options are:  
  1. The Agafay 'little desert' about 45 minutes' drive from Marrakech. In the summer this arid landscape can offer a special desert-like experience. You can go for lunch and afternoon, a sunset dinner, or lodge overnight in luxury tents.
 
  1. The two day one night shared trip to the arid scrubby 'little dunes' south of Marrakech at Zagora or M'hamid. They are not the 'fairytale' image of dunes, but the ride over the Atlas Mountains and along the Draa Valley is spectacular. Most tours will include a visit to the UNESCO site of Ait Benhaddou. Expect to pay between 650Dhs and 900Dhs per person depending on time of year and whether you want hot showers!
 
  1. Three days and two nights shared or private tour will get you to the dunes at Erg Chebbi south east of Marrakech, over the Atlas Mountains. Access to the dunes from the paved road is easy, which means they can get busy and there can be trinket sellers. It is about 10 hours travelling time from Marrakech, and you can visit the Dades and Todra gorges on the way. Erg Chebbi can be part of a private tour Marrakech to Fes which can be done in 3 days, but better in 4 or 5. There are luxury and bivouac camps here.
 
  1. Erg Chigaga is again about 10 hours travelling time, south of Marrakech, the last 2 hours being in a 4x4. The dunes are more isolated so can be quieter. Most excursions are private, and not shared. A couple of agencies will do a two day one night trip here, but it is still the 10 hour travelling time each way, and only available as a private option. Again there are luxury or bivouac options. Most trips here will be minimum 3 days, and will all be private.
  For our guests we are happy to pass on names and contacts for providers of these tours and excursions.  
  1. The day excursion tour we offer to Ouirgane and the Plateau de Kik in the Atlas Mountains with Linaya Transport has a small section that you pass through in the afternoon where there are camels you can ride in an arid spot just before arriving at the barrage at Lalla Takerkoust.
 

COMING UP IN MARRAKECH

Ashurra 2017, the festival of light and music in Morocco will be on Friday 29 September. Lots of street drumming, and practising for the two weeks before.

Aid al Adha 12 August 2019

The date for the Eid 2019 is the 12 and 13 August. It's a two day public holiday,  followed by another public holiday on the 14 August. Many will take advantage to make it a long holiday week. The main event is on the first morning, when the there will be no one on the streets of Marrakech. Later there will be fires lit in the streets of the old medina to cook the sheep's heads and feet. Later the skins will appear, so venturing out can be fascinating. During the afternoon the young men will go out, dressed in their cleanest white foukia's - an ankle length robe with a short collar -  and best yellow babouche. Some restaurants will open in the evening. Quite a few of the souk shops and artisans will take a whole week off. Expect public transport to be busy before and after the holiday, as people make their way to and from family. The following week there are two more public holidays on the 20 and 21 August, so again expect public transport to be busy.

Marrakech in the Autumn

The Autumn months are, like the Spring, a popular time for tourists to Marrakech. It's still very warm in September, October and November, with temperatures ranging from 32°C in September to 25°C in November. The nights become increasingly chilly as the Autumn progresses, however, and by November you may be looking at a night time low of 10°C, so bring a wrap or light jacket. It's a great time to catch some late Summer sun to prepare for those long cold northern winters. The rain begins to increase in the Autumn too, and you may catch a few rainy days - but there is still only around 2 cm of rain each month, showers are short and everything dries out very quickly.

Marrakech in the Summer

Summer temperatures in Marrakech are searingly hot. Starting at around 30°C in June, by the end of August temperatures can easily hit 40°C or more, with this dropping back to around 23 or 24°C at night. Although it is a very dry heat, it can be overwhelming for some. It's important to stay out of the mid-day sun, to drink plenty of water and to allow yourself time to acclimatize. There is virtually no rain at this time of year. Needless to say all of our bedrooms have air-conditioning. For the technically minded some have inverter low energy units with Montreal Protocol compliant gas. The lounge, built in a traditional manner, stays naturally cool, and some of our bedrooms stay cooler naturally as well. Jade on the roof terrace can be hot, as can Carmin on the first floor. It's the perfect time to sip a drink with your feet in the pool, or take a lunch and afternoon poolside outside the city.  Dining at night is always outdoors and divine.