Where to Stay in Morocco for Authenticity and Sense of Tradition
I guess there is no need of convincing you why you should visit Morocco. It is obviously one of the unique places in the world and a favourite of many travellers. The subject of this post is to show you where to stay in Morocco to experience the country in its most authentic environment.
I will use my stay in Riad Lola Halima in Meknes as an example.
What are the Riads?
But first, what are the riads? Riad is a traditional house, usually in the medina, which most characteristic feature is its courtyard. The courtyard is a necessity in Morocco. With the summer heat and the Muslim lifestyle, it is crucial for a family to have a courtyard. It is where the family members can gather together and the women can feel comfortable far from strangers’ eyes.
Often these courtyards are transformed in gardens and it’s unbelievable how refreshing they can be. You can hear the water trickling from the fountain in the middle, the birds singing between the branches and just can’t believe what your eyes are seeing. And what you are seeing is a little jungle in the heart of a house.
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To me, the riads are one of the best reasons a person should visit Morocco. It is one experience you will find nowhere else. And hopefully, for us, the travellers, many of these traditional houses are turned into guest houses. I’ve written before about the little gem riad Zayane, the guest house which was my home for few days in Marrakech. However, the guest house in Meknes was much more authentic and to be honest, I don’t know how much longer will exist.
Authenticity & Unique Charm
As a traveller who constantly seeks for unique experiences, my goal was to see Morocco in the most typical image. That’s why I chose riad Lola Halima. And still, I was not expecting such authenticity! This is why this guest house is so different from the others:
Riad Lola Halima, Meknes
It is the home of the family of two – an old French professor married to a local woman. The wife was sick at the time we were visiting Meknes and we never saw her but the professor was a very interesting person. The best way to know a place is to get closer to the local people. It was nice to chat with him, a person with a deep knowledge and understanding of the local life.
The house is a little bit rustic. By that I mean – not very polished and modernized as it was the riad Zayane in Marrakesh. It took a time to get hot water and to warm the room but it is the way the people here live. We felt just as family guests and were ready to make a small compromise to keep this feeling. It required a little bit patience, otherwise, we had all the amenities and comfort we needed.
The house was like a colourful maze. Shadow corners hiding Moroccan lamps, old wooden furniture making the place cosy and the silence that was the ruler of all corridors were just enchanting. We were allowed to see the very intimate life of a local family and this was priceless.
Breakfast time in riad Lola Halima was the best time of the day! Served in the courtyard, table facing the amazing inner garden where all the plants were growing towards the light, it was a magical moment. The silence was still there but the food at front of us smelling delicious. Freshly baked beghrir (pancakes), strong coffee, juicy dates, homemade butter and aromatic jam were making the life better with every bite.
The stay at Lola Halima was an experience that will stay in my memories as a warm reminder. People from all over the world are travelling to seek to real, emotional and memorable experiences. Riads in Morocco are doing exactly that – make you feel at home far from home. In an unusual for you but very typical for the destination environment you have probably the best service you can get – with a smile, warmth accompanied by comfort food that is really good for your senses and stomach. What more you can wish for?
Staying in a riad was one of my most favourite Moroccan experiences. Have you been to places where you felt as a guest, not a client? Share them in the comments below!
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