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Few and Farnatchi Between

Ten years ago you had to look pretty hard to find a fantastic place to stay in Marrakech. Sure there was a grand dame (that would be La Mamounia), but mostly it was a city of damsels in distress—long-in-the-tooth-and-never-that-beautiful-in the-first-place sort of places.

And then began the riad renaissance, a remarkable era of restoration in the city’s old quarter, or medina. A riad is basically a traditional Moroccan courtyard home in an urban setting. As was the case in many towns and villages in Europe (or anywhere for that matter), structures popped up organically in Marrakech over a period of centuries and followed a loose vernacular. Some riads were massive, while others were miniature. At any rate, a decade or so ago locals and foreigners alike realized that these riads (selling for a song, brilliantly located, and inherently charming) were an ideal answer to the growing need for accommodation in Marrakech.

So riad upon riad was bought, renovated, and opened to paying guests. Today, there are literally hundreds of them to choose from. Many of them are lovely—atmospheric, authentic and full of personality. However, finding a truly brilliant riad is like finding the proverbial needle. For all their outward dazzle, few riads have deep beauty and even fewer are run with a steady hand.

As part of our ongoing effort to give you less, I’m going to give you the one name that truly means more: Riad Farnatchi. A lot of stars must align for a hotel to rise from good to great to phenomenal. It must be gorgeous. It must convey a sense of place. It must have professional, discreet and thoughtful service. It must be as comfortable as home, yet more theatrical. And, most importantly, it must do all these things all the time. Not just for the first month or year, but again and again and again. It’s a helluva set of hurdles to clear. But Riad Farnatchi seems to sail over them with little effort.

The truth is there’s nothing easy or simple about keeping Farnatchi in top form, especially in a place like Morocco. Lynn Perez, the manager, keeps a constant eye on all the details and ensures that all 9 sumptuous suites and every member of staff are graciously prepared to make guests feel special. The result is a genuine oasis of calm amidst the delicious mayhem of Marrakech. Returning to your suite at the end of a gritty day exploring is like an emotional steam bath and massage (which you can also arrange to do in-house). Breakfast on the roof, cocktails in one of the courtyards, or dinner in the dramatically dark dining room are equally soothing. Remarkably, Riad Farnatchi is not the dearest game in town, but in our opinion, it’s the sweetest.

Charlie’s always willing to help a damsel in distress, especially one overwhelmed by Morocco Trip Planning.

Returning to your suite at the end of a gritty day exploring is like an emotional steam bath and massage.

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