Review: AnaYela Marrakesh, a Member of Design Hotels
The last thing you think about when you book a Marriott property in a place like Morocco is culture. Normally no matter where you are going in the world, depending on the brand of hotel you book through Marriott, you can almost always count on a property with the same style, service and design. Which, is great because Marriott has amazing properties but not necessarily ones that give you a real sense of the culture.
When I originally started researching Morocco travel, one of the most recommended things to do while in Marrakech was to stay in a Riad (Moroccan way of saying house with a garden, ideally divided into quarters with a central fountain). In the old city of Marrakech, they are everywhere and all uniquely beautiful (on the inside at least). Most filled with intricate, wood carved, hand painted beams and ceilings perfectly complimenting tiles dating back hundreds of years that make you feel like you are staying in a piece of art. Truly breathtaking.
When I found the AnaYela property on the Marriott website, I was actually pretty shocked but so excited because I didn’t have to chose between getting my nights and points or finding a traditional Riad in a great location (about a mile walk through the old city and souks to get to Jamaa El Fna). Because they only have five rooms, I would definitely recommend booking this property as soon as you know you are going to Marrakech.
Lucky enough to have secured a room for my 3 nights in Marrakech, I was e-mailed by the AnaYela Marrakech several weeks before my stay thanking me for my reservation as well as getting my arrival information so they could arrange my transfer to the Riad (the transfer is included but trust me, you wouldn't want to try to get there on your own anyway lol). They also are able to assist you with setting up any tours or answer any questions about your time in Morocco.
On the day of arrival I was a bit worried because my flight from Frankfurt was delayed an hour and I have never had very good luck in any country with drivers holding signs in the arrivals area but I was pleasantly surprised, as my driver was waiting patiently with my very own sign and a very welcoming smile.
Never having been to Morocco, I couldn’t even tell you how long the drive took because I was so mesmerized by the everyday life of the people and animals that was happening outside my window. If I had to guess, I would say it was about 30 minutes until we arrived to this sand covered market area filled with goats, chickens, donkeys, children coming out of school, stalls of people cooking and selling food, construction… complete and wonderful chaos. My driver informed me that we could get no closer by car and someone from the Riad was coming to get me and walk me the rest of the way. After about five minutes of waiting I stepped outside the car and my first encounter was with this beautiful little girl who looked up at me, gave me the biggest smile and said “bonjour.” Maybe one of the most memorable parts of the whole trip. Then I was met by a member of the Riad and was escorted through the labyrinth of the old city to the Riad which is in a dark alley that looks like every other and has no sign (which is why i said you wouldn’t want to try to get there on your own).
Wondering how the inside could look anything like the pictures I had seen on the Marriott website, as soon as I stepped through the door I was immediately wowed by the beauty. They sat me down in the little courtyard and while they checked me in treated me to my very first mint tea, a few little cookies and then gave me a tour with a little history of the property.
On the main floor is the little garden and pool surrounded by tables where they serve breakfast and behind that some of the rooms. Up some stairs and on the second floor there is a "Moroccan living room” where I ended up spending some nights relaxing with a glass of Moroccan red wine and talking with other travelers and then the rest of the rooms. Up one more flight of stairs gets you to the roof top where they have what they call the “Magic carpet” that overlooks the Mdina and is a gorgeous place for sunset. You can also have dinner on the roof and during the warmer months enjoy some sunbathing.
The rooms are long and narrow with the width of my extremely comfortable king sized bed barely fitting and decorated with beautiful hanging lamps and wood carved panels along the walls. The bathroom came with all the complimentary toiletries I could ever need and had a huge stone tub that was amazing for a nice relaxing bath. Every morning, as soon as I stepped outside the sliding doors into the courtyard, there was my table all set for my daily breakfast of breads, jams, pastries, yogurt, fruit and delicious coffee. It was perfect for a single traveler but would also be ideal for couples.
On top of the great location and the beautiful property, the AnaYela has some of the best service I have experienced anywhere in the world. They are unbelievably friendly and accommodating. They always have more answers than you have questions, are willing to go the extra mile to satisfy any needs you have and treat you like you are the only person on the property.
If you are ever in Marrakech, even if you’re not a Marriott Rewards member. You must check here for availability because it is an amazing property that gives you the true Moroccan experience with 5 star service.