I feel that tradition is a word that one mustn’t just throw away in casual conversation. In this instance it is associated with a family holiday, a tradition that happened at least once a year when my siblings, parents and I were younger – one that we haven’t been able to keep up over the years as our lives have been spread across the world’s various continents. As it happened one night we found ourselves on a flight to Morocco.
One morning in Marrakech whilst waiting for everyone to join me in the courtyard for breakfast I found myself wondering whether riads feel as peaceful as they do because they look inwards. It’s not everyday that you get to spend hours in a spot that looks inwards, and maybe that’s my sole reason for recommending a riad during your stay in Morocco over a hotel.
Aside from being the perfect place to fantasize about tagines, Argan oil, hammams and souks you’ll get a little more culture and authenticity for your banging buck. Did I mention they are beautiful?
Most of these traditional Moroccan houses (or palaces) are found within the old walled city. It’s a little tricky, a manic cab driver drops you off beside an archway that’s been cut into dusty pink walls. Stepping through these doorways puts you into one alleyway after another that go deep into the heart of Marrakech. It’s a terrifying and wonderful prospect to feel purposefully lost between decades of history and tradition.
Perhaps that was the point! To feel a little lost and bewildered and unsure of ourselves. It’s been a while since we haggled with cab drivers instead of using Uber or used our senses instead of Google Maps to find our way home.
Tucked a good fifteen minutes away from Medina, we enjoyed a timeout from the world. This timeout came in the form of simple Moroccan breakfasts at 10am, afterwards putting a toe or two in the dipping pool, Ahmed playing a slightly out of tune guitar, being surrounded by cool white walls and the opportunity to spend time as a family, make obscene jokes and spend precious hours sitting in the courtyard; the epicentre of the riad and at times the world, drinking mint tea – another wonderful tradition.
- Where to stay: Riad Porte Royale
- What to buy: Organic Argan oil & rose oil from the shops in Ourika Valley, Ras Al Hanout from the spice souks, Beldi & Rhassoul clay (so you can hammam at home)
- Where to eat: Nomad & Cafe Clock