One of the coolest things about Marrakech is the juxtaposition between the chaotic and dusty, ancient streets of the Medina and the tranquil, sumptuous riads (traditional Moroccan homes turned hotels/guesthouses) that lie hidden within the Medina’s walls. And I’m not exaggerating when I say hidden. When we arrived in Marrakech we were instructed to go to the small parking lot at the Bab Doukkala Mosque so that someone from our riad could come meet us (with donkey and wagon in tow for our luggage) to lead us through the maze, impossible to navigate on your own if not first guided. We walked past food and crafts stalls, narrowly escaped death by moped more than once, and arrived at an intricately carved door – not so different from the dozen or so doors we passed on the way. Inside, we found a surprisingly chic, and quiet, sanctuary.  The Riad Noir D’Ivoire, one of my favorite riads, is beautifully decorated, with two courtyards, a bar, cigar room and wine cellar, a slender pool backed by a wall with a 21-foot-high waterfall, hammam, and several nooks that extend off the courtyards for lounging, sipping wine, and planning out the day’s adventure. riadnoirpool.jpgMy room (video above), the suite behind the pool, was lovely. It featured a separate sitting area, a dimly lit dome above the four-poster bed, a fireplace, a massive tub in the bathroom, and a private roof terrace with Jacuzzi, chaise lounges, and a table for two for breakfast. Rooms also feature plasma TVs and DVD players; Wi-Fi is available in the courtyards. Co-owner, Jill Fechtman, Damian and the rest of the staff are wonderful and ready to dole out the recommendations to make sure you make the most of your time in Marrakech. They even loan each guest a cell phone with their numbers programmed in. That came in handy when we lost our way coming back from Djemaa el Fna at night.


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