arrakech is well-known for being one of those places that will sweep you off your feet. Red walls, hidden alleyways and smiling children with big eyes will turn any vacation into a life changing cultural experience.
Riad AnaYela, the 300 year-old city palace member of Design Hotels, just happens to make your already incredible trip into a real treat for the senses. The riad is located in an authentic, locals-only neighborhood in the medina of Marrakech, which means you will be lost and it will be incredible.
The unassuming street that led us to this paradisiacal location is very much on par with what you’d expect in the medina. Make your way through the crowds, say hello to the kids, try to pick a point of reference and dig in. In Marrakech, some of the most beautiful and elaborated gardens, homes, and courtyards hide behind ancient walls with very little flair, so embrace the street’s simplicity. The authenticity of this neighborhood, which is located 10 minutes from the center, was one of my favorite points. Nobody knew where it was and getting back was always an adventure.
As I duck my head to make my way past the small door that leads to Anayela, I was greeted by one of their lovely staff members who brought over Moroccan slippers, dates, and milk. I automatically felt at home. Anayela’s courtyard is like a sanctuary, sheltering you from the outside world without stripping you from experiencing the best the city has to offer- sunshine, food, music, and lovely, lovely people.
Even more mesmerizing than the riad’s appearance is the love story that took place behind its closed doors.
Back in the days, a 16 year-old girl used to have escapades with her young lover in the hotel’s magic terrace. During the 2007 renovation, manuscripts and love letters were found in the terrace and are now engraved in AnaYela’s history, calligraphed in silver on the walls of the seven bedrooms.
Yet, one of my favorite things about this stay was knowing that I was in good hands. The staff is always available for late night snacks, drinks, a chat, directions, pick up, dinner reservations, you name it. While the rooms were impeccably cleaned everyday and my traditional Moroccan robe and slippers laid out for me every time I came in, my stay wouldn’t have been the same without that familiar, at home feel Anayela provides.
Not to be missed is Anayela’s breakfast of moroccan crepes, mint tea, breads, and orange cake, which is served as late as you need and is a sure way to start the day on the right foot. Be sure to ask the hotel for their restaurant recommendations, as they pointed us out in the right direction every time. Morocco is a memorable place and Anayela is the extra touch many of us look for when exploring and experience a new culture.
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