It’s a little bit of an anomaly, to review a Riad, because in general they tend to be special places as a rule, but a recent visit to Riad Les Bougainvilliers in Marrakech proved that some are just better than others. (What was that marketing campaign? If Carlsberg made Riads…)
Trundling our cabin baggage through the Medina at 8pm was a pretty hairy experience, it was Ramadan, the day’s fast had just finished, and as mopeds sped past us on the hot, clammy, narrow streets, and people called out to each other, we felt a bit frazzled after a long day. A flight from Sevilla, preceded by a morning in Córdoba, and then the beautiful madness of Marrakech.
Reading our minds, or perhaps just our lost looks, a local guy asked if we were looking for Les Bougainvilliers. We were promptly hustled up alleys, twisting and turning before being deposited at a large wooden door in a terracotta coloured street that looked like all the others. In reality, as we discovered later that evening, it’s perfectly placed, just a few steps from Jemaa el fna square.
Amal – beautiful, gentle Amal – efficiently swept us inside, and into another world. Everyone will tell you the marked difference between the mayhem of the Medina, and the calm oasis of a Riad, but this was like closing a door on another world. Inside, Les Bougainvilliers is as calm as a south pacific ocean, as sweet as an unfurling flower. Soft music in the background, the hint of some spiced essence, a trickle of water, and total, complete calm. It is decorated in a classic, elegant style that befits the magnificent building. Everywhere, Bougainvillea tumbles over balconies, and the rooms are spacious and individually decorated. Sitting at the marvellous breakfast*, I remarked to my husband that there wasn’t a single thing I would change, I simply could not find a criticism – and believe me I tried!
It’s the epitome of understated, classical décor, and has a palatial feel without being aloof. That’s the real secret appeal of Les Bougainvilliers – you will feel as though you are at home (but perhaps a much nicer home!).
The staff are clearly hand-picked. Nothing is too much trouble. They are there to hand you something just as you are in the process of thinking about it…like magic. They’re friendly, completely efficient, but never overbearing. They really are perfect, all of them, from the smiling cook (those light, airy crepes!) the friendly girl who cleans (she would put Martha Stewart to shame) the Hammam lady who not only took a layer of skin away from me, but fixed my dodgy knee. Special mention to gentle, helpful night-concierge Moncef, and the aforementioned Amal, graceful, warm and pretty unbeatable at her job. Honestly, we would have packed them up and taken them home if it were possible.
We enjoyed an upgrade to the senior suite (see below) after the first night, so managed to enjoy 2 rooms, each containing their own individual style and calm space.Even the rooms at Les Bouganvilliers have personality!
Well done to Phillipe the friendly, personable owner, you really have a royal winner amongst Riads – our score for Les Bougainvilliers? You already know that one. 10/10.
High points: Staff, Breakfast, Rooms, Roof terrace, Great value, Location.
*Breakfast: Fresh OJ, tea, coffee, flatbreads, crepes, pancakes, fresh fruit, jam (2 types) honey, butter, cheese.