Riad Altair

As soon as our feet touched the dusty surface of the road, locals rushed up to us to try and take our bags off us “We help, we help!” they all exclaimed in chorus.

We politely declined and our taxi driver ushered them away, before leading us out of the heat of the day and into the cool, cobbled streets. We arrived at an oversized wooden door and were sucked inside. Our luggage was whisked away from us, and we were seated in an alcove. 

The sound of the running water and chirping birds was immediately a calm oasis, away from our first few seconds’ experience of Marrakech.

Tea was brought out to us on a silver tray and poured high, while we nibbled on biscuits and admired Riad Altair

*A Riad is a traditional Moroccan house or guest house that faces inwards, with a garden or terrace in the centre. The word ‘Riad’ comes from the Arabian term for garden ‘Ryad’. Many Moroccan cities have back to back houses and noisy streets between, so do not have windows facing the streets and instead all face inwards.*

Finally, we were shown to our room where we are able to throw ourselves onto the bed and rest our feet after the journey.

Our room was called Sirius and was beautiful down to the room key!

Double doors between the bed and seating area could be locked with a padlock during the day, and heavy curtains covered them for extra privacy, so a breeze flowed through the room.

Our en-suite bathroom was the beautiful, terracotta colour, polished concrete that is so common in the area. The sunken bath was practically carved into the room and was so big we could both easily fit in there. I made The Gentleman test this theory with me – we both climbed in (fully clothed might I add and minus the water) and indeed we could have comfortably fitted with space!

Everything was just so beautiful and finished to the highest of standards. Plus, those dressing gowns were so cosy!

We snuck up onto the roof for a quick peek, before supper. The moon glowed over the starless sky and the buildings hugged each other in a warm orange light. 

I finished work a little late one day and hadn’t had the best of weeks. The Gentleman picked me up from work, as he always does when I’m a bit down, and told me he had something to tell me that would cheer me up. 

He announced that he was taking me to Morocco for our anniversary, and I couldn’t have had a bigger smile on my face. Katie = instantly happy! He had wanted to surprise me on the day of our flight, and not say anything until we stepped into the airport. But then he had second thoughts and thought he’d let me know before – you see he knew I’d want to plan outfits etc. Clever boy. 

So anyway, when we walked down to dinner, the table in the courtyard was covered in rose petals and candles for a special anniversary dinner. It was beautiful!

The menu is different every day, so you could eat every night at the Riad if you wished, although this was the only night we did, it was probably our best meal of the entire trip!

We started with little pastry parcels (Bariwat) filled with prawn, cheese, beef and lamb which were delicious as a light starter. 

Chicken tagine followed – the typical traditional Moroccan delicacy. Slow cooked through the day for that beautiful ‘barely there’ meat consistency. The meat was served in thick sauce with dates and almonds and a dish of slow cooked courgette and tomato on the side. A sweet, delicate, yet satisfying mouthful each time. The whole plate is mopped up afterwards with freshly baked bread. 

From the menu, I was very unsure of the pudding and what to expect. It was pineapple with honeycomb ice cream, caramel and garnished with saffron. I was so glad I didn’t turn it down. It was so deliciously sweet and sticky – the kind that glues your teeth together!

The Riad doesn’t have a licence to serve alcohol, but you are allowed to bring your own wine to dinner. We didn’t, as we didn’t have time to get to the shops, but you really don’t need it!

After dinner, we took a stroll into the centre of town, to Jmaa el-Fnaa (the main square). Within an hour our senses were exhausted, so we wandered back to the cosiness of our room for a long soak in the tub before wrapping ourselves up in the dressing gowns and watching a film. 

Perfect start to the holiday!