The taxi leaves us in Djemaa el-Fna square, and all around is a chaos of car horns, songs and calls.
We go on by foot: no cars allowed in the Marrakech Medina. Mohammed comes from Riad Le Rihani to pick us up, and guides us through a maze of small roads that leads into the heart of the city.
When we cross the Riad’s threshold, another world opens up, and is made of peace.
The birds chirping, the sound of water flowing into the central pool, the plants and trees full of oranges that surround it, the blue chaise longue on which you can drink a mint tea, the most popular and loved drink in Morocco: everything invites you to relax.
It seems impossible, but we are in the middle of a city where scooters whizzing reckless, vendors and street artists shout loudly to attract tourists’ attention.
This quiet corner in the past was owned by the family of which still bears the name: the Rihanis were generous and friendly, loved to organize parties and be surrounded by friends.
Today it’s managed by Cécile Degrève, a Belgium woman who’s moved to Marrakech after a journey that made her fall in love with Morocco: "Eight years ago my husband and I came here on holiday a few days, and move here became immediately our dream. We tried to make it happen by finding a Riad right for us."
Cécile moved with their four children, who are now living and studying in Marrakech: "The guys settled down very well, the culture here is very open and friendly. For me the first two weeks were pretty hard, the change was radical, but then I found interesting and stimulating people with whom to befriend and interact. The working weeks now fly fast, and every weekend my husband arrives from Belgium to join the family."
Cécile’s story is in contrast to the migratory flows we are used to hear about, she has moved from Europe to Africa to live in a place that is entered her heart: "I fell in love with the red clay of Morocco and I wanted to stop here, although it took more than a year to find the Riad of our dreams. "
With 4 bedrooms and 4 suites, Riad Le Rihani is like a theater with several stages, each of which shows great attention to details: the style is the enchanted one of fairy tales, be it of princesses or slaves, furnished with Berber or Arab design. The atmosphere is seductive, but without losing the family mark that the staff manages to perceive, making guests feel at home: "Mohammed, Suad, Said, Habiba and all the others are a close-knit team that shares the same philosophy. They started working here before I arrived, and they live the Riad with the affection and confidence reserved to the loved places: customers feel it."
The dining room with a fireplace and mosaics, the library where you can play chess, a small hammam and a terrace with canopy beds from which you can see the Atlas Mountains that decorate Marrakech skyline. Impossible not to mention the good cuisine, and the fantastic king-size beds with the window on the ceiling above that lets the rays of the moon come in during the limpid nights. All this helps to create a charming setting for all the references to an aesthetic tradition that represents one of the strongest appeals of this city.
Recommend to poetry lovers, to those who appreciate the calmness of good taste and love for a charming atmosphere.
If you are interested to know our complete Moroccan tour, click HERE.
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