Riad Charai. 2nd August 2015

It’s always difficult reviewing accommodation because it can sound so negative, so let me state up front.
This is a nice enough place, the room is adequate, the outside environment is sweet, food good, staff great.
So any comments should be viewed in that context and bear in mind it’s 5 in the morning and I can’t sleep because some how a donkey has managed to get into our room and is braying incessantly.

So I may be slightly more prickly than usual.

We viewed our room on line using Booking.com web site and checked for reviews using Trip Advisor which gave the place some reasonably good feed back.

We even found mention of this particular Riad in Marrakech Select, a Guide book, under the heading, ‘The Lap of Luxury’ which this definitely isn’t.

The first thing we noticed on coming into the room was the smell.

It wasn’t unpleasant, it was a bit exotic.

There is a large stone fire place in the middle of the room with a grate set with a few logs ready to light, so there’s a smell of wood smoke and ash.

Riad’s by their very nature are old buildings and when you see a crumbling wall as you walk around you realise they are made primarily of dust with very few stones to give it substance. Not surprisingly they get quite damp, so there is a musty smell of damp in our room too.

Add to this the cloying perfume of the Jasmine drifting in from outside and you may get a sense of just what it smells like, in fact we’ve now gotten so used to it we don’t even notice.

There are two built in wardrobes, one either side of an arched door which leads to the bathroom.

Though very attractive in the brochure this door is fast becoming my ‘Pet Hate’ as I catch my shoulder on it every time I go through.

We started un packing the cases and noticed the wardrobes have that Old Lady Smell. The one you get when you go to stay with an elderly Aunt. I always imagine Bertie Wooster has this smell about him at all times which might explain why he’s still single?

We looked for the Safe Deposit Box to safely store our valuables. but we just couldn’t find it so called the duty manager who, after close inspection declared that. “Some one has taken it”!

After all my clothing (well, 3 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of pants, assorted T shirts and a base ball cap) had been successfully stowed I had to swap wardrobes with Jaki because she didn’t have hanging space for the various dresses and ball gown’s she’d brought, given there was a camping fridge In the bottom of hers.

This fridge is neither use nor ornament. It has no shelves in the door and there isn’t any height between shelves so nothing can be stored up right.

There are two of the cutest little ice trays you’ve ever seen that balance on top of the cooling mechanism. This means they weld to the cooler each time they’re refilled so getting some ice becomes an engineering fete. Even when this has been achieved, the total ice produced is about the same as an ordinary ice cube. So all bottles of water and soft drinks are led on their sides, as a result one must expect a certain amount of leakage.

There are several ornate windows in our room, with attractively carved wooden shutters which in turn have ornate fretwork panels.

Upon inspection two of these windows open into the dining room and the third onto the staircase.

Guest should be mindful of this if they don’t want to have a ‘Harry met Sally’ moment. Keep the sex quiet if the windows are open is my advice!

There’s a huge bed which is reasonably comfortable if a little firm, a good selection of pillows and a huge duvet.

There is Air con with a remote control but despite what temperature it says on the digital screen we have only been able to manage ‘On or Off’ with no subtle variation in room temperature or fan speed. So sleeping has been a bit of a challenge. From lying on top of the duvet when the Air con is off to wearing spare socks on hands and feet when it’s on.

Theres a large Flat Screen TV on a bracket on the wall with some sort of satellite box balanced precariously on top of it. The brochure proudly boasted about these facilities. Sadly the only two English channels I can find are CNN and Aljezera. Some of the plug sockets are a bit wobbly and our adapters don’t fit in all of them.

The front door has become a bit of a challenge for Jaki who can’t get the key out of the lock, so she’s taken to leaving it open, which isn’t too much of a problem when were sat outside. But given that our Safe was Stolen, we do need to tighten up on security. It might also explain how the donkey got in?

There is an over bath shower but no screen so when I used it, I soaked the floor. Apparently, according to Jaki, I ‘didn’t use it right’ which caused the flooding, though how you can stand under a shower Wrongly still defies me.

There are two roof terraces, one with large waterproof double mattresses that are meant for sun bathing but look less than welcoming with rips and stains. The sun umbrellas were both broken when we went up there and in the mid afternoon heat, they were a necessity.

The sun roof at the other end of the Riad has tables and chairs and the remnants of what used to be a Bar. (They had a licence once but it was too expensive).

We sat up there and watched the sun go down across the rooftops and the forest of satellite dishes. There was a nice breeze and the birds were making an awful racket as they settled into the trees on the pool terrace to roost.

To reach these roof terraces you have to navigate some very steep marble stairs. There is a very unhelpful and intermittent hand rail (part of which had an electricity cable joined with a screw in block and no insulation running along it) and very poor lighting.

Like a lot of countries, Health and Safety doesn’t exist here. So, cracked tiles around the pool area, raised manhole covers with sharp edges and steep stairs with poor lighting are obstacles that have to be accepted as part of life’s rich tapestry.

Even the dining tables around the pool are so precariously close to the edge that an unexpected dip, fully clothed is an ever present danger.
The Riad itself is found down a narrow alley and at night this is poorly lit and can be a bit intimidating. There is an expectation that all guests will at some stage get themselves lost in the labyrinth that is the Medina and at night, it is even more likely. So be warned, and maybe carry a torch, a piece of string and a stick of chalk.
The food here is good though we did expect Moroccan food to have a bit more punch. There’s only so much Couscous a person can consume dry.

Bread, which is served with two types of Olives, (the green ones coated in Harissa are especially good) at dinner and with Pastries at breakfast is often dry and a bit stale. But having seen it on display in the shops where it’s exposed to the Sun for long periods,it’s no wonder.

The Tajine cooked meals are tasty though portions are small and as there is no kitchen here, all the food is prepared in the sister Riad Shama which means it has to be carried here by the staff and it can get a bit cold in the process.

There are certain times of the day, particularly when your on holiday, that you need a beer.

Lunch time, after a morning around the pool or early evening when it’s starting to cool down.

That wonderful time when you can chill out and relax and watch the world go by with a cold one.

That can’t be beat.

Sadly that is one of the down sides of staying in a Riad in the Medina, there just aren’t any bars.

The Riad itself is dry and there are no bars within walking distance, though I understand there are plenty in the new town, just outside the walls.

There are a few restaurants advertised in the guide book that have a bar (Le Foundouk and Le Marrakchi on Jemma El Fna) but they are a rarity, expensive and just to far to go from here.

There is also a place where you can buy wine ( Morocco produces a great Rose wine) called Gueliz which is in the new town close to Jardins Majorelle.

We hope to call there in a taxi later and stock up.

In summary, this Riad is pleasant, comfortable, a bit like a worn armchair. It’s dated and its seen better days, but it’s not gonna break the bank and you get what you pay for.

Now the sun is up, I’m out on the pool terrace finishing off the Blog and wondering if I should try and go back to sleep, though we have a Taxi tour booked for ten thirty so that’s highly unlikely.

N:B. I m aware the blog is lacking some colour so I will add photos too but the wifi signal isn’t great and it takes an age to insert a picture.

Bear with me and I will update, but possibly not till we get home.


4 thoughts on “Riad Charai. 2nd August 2015

  1. Is this the room which is a suite and with a balcony? All those smells come rushing back to me. Presumably you have not encountered the Racism experience with the Taxi Driver?
    Did you need a gag for you Harry meets Sally moment?

    1. The promise of a Harry meets Sally moment sounds good, though I’m not holding my breath, which is just as well given the odour. So far no racism but it’s early doors.

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