In the labyrinth of the medina of Marrakech one should let oneself drift. You get lost anyway, the further you get into the heart of the city. Here, in the midst of the colorful life are hidden behind thick clay walls magnificent town houses and city palaces: the so-called Riads. One of the most beautiful is the Riyad El Cadi, just a few cross streets away from the square of the jugglers, the Djamaa al-Fna. Editor-in-chief Friederike Hintze paid a visit to this gem ..
Once you have been in Marrakesh, the "Pearl of the South", you will have lost your heart. Even in gray, rainy weather, the city exerts a charm. Yves Saint Laurent, who had his famous blue gardens here called Jardin Majorelle, lived alternately in Marrakech and Paris. The incredibly rich Talitha Getty loved the city – and established the international jet set in the 1960s and 1970s, long before her untimely death. Marlene Dietrich, Alfred Hitchcock or Mick Jagger – the illustrious list of those who were or still are fascinated by Marrakech is long.
In the beautiful courtyards you can find everywhere sitting areas where you can enjoy a cup of mint tea.
Riyad El Cadi: Julia Bartel's little gem
Less known to some may be the name Julia Bartels. But the Berliner also joins the ranks of those who love the city: Bartels has known Marrakech since childhood and, together with her sister, inherited the enchanting riad from her father in 2003. The latter was an ambassador, worked in Morocco, was a passionate art collector and wanted to restore the 13th century townhouse. or 14. Once used as a resting place in the eighteenth century. Today, Riyad El Cadi comprises a total of 15 rooms and suites, divided into seven different cottages, all of which are connected by small courtyards, stairways and corridors. It goes up and down – around this corner and the next. Childlike curiosity is reawakened and you always wonder: what might be around the next bend?? Which enchanted magic lamp, which exotic flower, which precious work of art will you come across this time??
The interior of Riyad El Cadi is simple, but enchanting and lovingly selected.
The interior: Simple and magical
Many riads and palaces in Marrakech are owned by Europeans or Americans, Julia Bartels tells THE FREQUENT TRAVELLER. However, while many owners tend to make their townhouses ostentatious and particularly oriental, the classic style of Marrakech is different: in Fez, Morocco's former intellectual city, ornate decoration is part of the houses. In the Red City, however, the style is simpler and more restrained. Julia Bartels picks up on this in her riad. The interior of the pretty rooms is not ostentatious, but affectionate. Berber carpets on the floor and wall, carved wooden furniture, small copper pots and woven baskets, clay lamps, all kinds of art treasures and small, beautifully staged souvenirs combine to form a melange of enchanting simplicity.
Art and Berber carpets decorate the rooms and suites at Riyad El Cadi.
Particularly beautiful: The original architecture of the house has been preserved and beautifully enhanced. There are splendidly carved colorful ceilings in bedrooms, old colorful tiles in the bathrooms and solid ceiling beams from other centuries. It's like living in a private home – not a hotel. And if you like, you can withdraw completely in the Riyad El Cadi. The traditional townhouses, which became particularly popular with the rise of Islam and were adapted from Roman villas, were once used primarily for this purpose: they were intended to offer families protection and privacy.
Absolute tranquility – in the middle of the medina of Marrakech.
Riyad El Cadi: An Idyll
The term "riyad" comes from the Arabic and means something like "garden". And truly: The courtyards of Riyad El Cadi are perhaps the most beautiful thing about this entire oasis. Even in February they are exotically planted, in the middle there are splashing fountains, in which rose petals swim. In the morning, the scent of orange trees spreads, with chirping birds perched in their crowns. The quite simple but tasty breakfast (always included in the room rate) is again taken on the roof terrace. It is also worthwhile to climb it at night: Then a sparkling starry sky stretches over the riyadh and the entire city, while the juggler sounds of the Djaama al-Fna waft over even at a late hour (there is a lot to discover here even at night). Yes, that may sound wonderfully kitschy – but it corresponds to reality. At least in Riyad el Cadi.
The larger suites even have a private terrace.
A riad all to oneself
A particularly beautiful place is the Blue House, which is, so to speak, its own riad within the riad. There is room for a maximum of five people. It includes a private balcony as well as terrace, private kitchen and tub bathrooms. There is even a small pool where you can quickly refresh yourself – if Marrakesh shows its warm side (which it usually does, just not always to our luck). Also an in-house Hamma with fairly calculated applications is offered to the guests. Otherwise, the Riyad El Cadi has nothing to do with a typical hotel: While each of the employees devotedly attends to the personal needs of the guest, there is no 24-hour concierge, gym, or WiFi in every corner of the building at Riyad el Cadi. Alone because the paths are winding, the architecture does not allow it. Sometimes the riad seems to belong to you alone. This is mostly wonderful, and only makes for small moments of stress now and then. For example, if a question about a good restaurant is pressing and you first have to go in search of a helping service person.
Breakfast is served on the terrace in the morning – in good weather you can also dine here romantically.
Culinary delights at Riyad El Cadi
Speaking of the restaurant: Riyad El Cadi naturally has its own culinary offerings. Not only in the morning, but also at noon and in the evening you can dine wonderfully here – in good weather on the terrace or in a small private room at the table decorated with rose petals. Then sumptuous, authentic Moroccan menus are served, changing every evening. You should bring your own appetite; the team serves up a sumptuous meal. The dishes are nevertheless (or just because of that) fine and quite excellently seasoned.
Moroccan way of life: You can't get any closer to it than at Riyad El Cadi.
Riyad El Cadi: the real life of the medina
What you experience in Riyad El Cadi is the real life in the alleys of the medina: When you enter the street in the morning, children play soccer and romp past you. Some alleys are so narrow that only a moped, maybe a donkey-drawn cart can pass through. If you retreat to the inner courtyards of the Riyad El Cadi, the meter-thick walls swallow up the city noise and the heat. It is pleasantly cool in the midst of orange and citrus trees, between which you drink your freshly brewed mint tea. Among Moroccans, although it is not considered "chic" to live in the medina. "Life in the old town is arduous," explains Julia Bartels. But this is not the case for the guests of the Riyad El Cadi.