Riad Noga, Marrakech

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The Riad Noga, one of the best and most well known of the 800 Riads that you can find in Marrakech and found at the end of a long, quiet alleyway, greets you with the smell of flowers and an atmosphere of complete tranquility. The courtyards and alcoves are not over endowed with the intricate carvings that many Riads have (which are superb examples of workmanship and no doubt welcomed by their original owners – merchants who’d spent a lot of their time in the sparseness of nearby desert and mountain) and this is a feature which I enjoy about the Noga as I find ‘busy’ walls a little wearing on the eyes after a day looking at the countless architectural treasures that Marrakech is home to. Instead of this busyness a classy, romantic feel inhabits the Noga’s pastel coloured interior; freshly cut roses occupy every vase and spare vessel, the staff are attentive but discreet and birdsong filters down from the plants that hang down from the roof terrace, their faint chirps echoing through the poolside colonnade.

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The pool is very cool, by the way, and was such a refreshing treat for us when we returned from a few hours walking around the hot, dusty, covered markets that Marrakech is famed for and which begin a few minutes walk from the front door.

We stayed at the Riad Noga for 3 days; here are some practical details about the place, and a few more photos and a short video that we made during our time there.

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Location - The Riad Noga is a 10 minute walk from the famous Jemma el Fna square, in a friendly and quiet part of the medina (the full address is 78, Derb Jdid Douar Graoua, 40040 Marrakech). Without a guide you’ll have problems finding it I think as the alleyways surrounding it aren’t signposted, so if you plan to walk from either the bus or train station you’re best off arranging for somebody from the Riad to meet you at a major landmark nearby, such as the Jemma el Fna, and guide you in.

We flew in though so the Riad arranged a taxi from the airport, it was 12 Euro for us both and in my opinion it was well worth it. You could arrange a taxi yourself on arrival and save a couple of Euro but you run the risk of the driver not knowing where to take you (there are, as I’ve mentioned, over 800 Riads in the city), dropping you off far from the Riad’s approach alleyway whilst claiming they can’t get any closer, leaving you to walk half hour or so with your luggage (not unknown) or playing some scam trick on you. Our driver was waiting for us at the airport arrivals hall, he had a ‘Riad Noga’ sign so we could see him easily and he took us straight to the Riad Noga with no fuss at all. The Riad itself was just a minutes’ walk from the road; a lad met us with a handcart and helped transport our luggage.

Check In/Reception – The Noga’s door, although thick and stately looking, could not prepare us for what we were to see inside. Plants and flowers climbing and tumbling, a turquoise swimming pool, the scent of roses, a shady courtyard inhabited by Kline the parrot and a couple of tortoise and that air of complete tranquility and romance that I’ve already spoken about.

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There was a cool, cosy sitting room – leading off the patio where Kline the parrot lived – that had many guidebooks and old photographs scattered around. Here’s a short film I shot on arrival at the Riad. It’s not meant to be a professional, glossy promo film, just an honest look at what you’d find at the Riad Noga if you stayed there yourself.

The Room – We arrived at 11am; our room was ready and we could move in right away. It was simply decorated, tasteful, quiet and comfy. The door opened up onto a courtyard that was rarely used and was consequently an oasis of peace.

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The room had a painted wooden ceiling, carpets over tiled floors, complimentary fresh fruits and a little tagine style dish holding dates, nuts and raisins that were replenished daily (the roses were also changed every so often), when the room was made up.

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Like all ‘real’, older Riads, the walls of the Noga are very thick, about 18 inches, which means the rooms are kept cooler than regular rooms in summer and warmer in winter. We had a/c but rarely needed it as the building design kept our room cool even at the height of a hot June day.

We also had a TV (which we never got round to using) and a tiled bathroom with a huge shower, bath robes and toiletries. Water pressure was good and there was plenty of hot water. 

Breakfast at the Noga is a wonderful affair. The deep pile cushions on the rooftop terrace chairs are incredibly comfortable and encourage dalliance. Fresh coffee, hot water for tea, milk, a mix of condiments (strawberry and fig conserve, marmalade and honey) and butter for french style fresh bread and crepes, a choice of eggs – we had omelettes and sometimes hard boiled – yoghurt, muesli and fresh orange juice. Try as we might we could never finish what was served to our table.

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As well as the rooftop terrace where we ate breakfast there was also another level of terrace where we could relax in sunbeds and watch sunset over the old city. To hear the call to prayer from here as it rose up from the mosques all around was a powerful experience and one of the highlights of our trip to Marrakech.

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After dark the Riad was sensitively lit.

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I’ve mentioned that the staff were attentive but discreet; they also spoke English as well as French and were very friendly and happy to be photographed, which is a definite plus in a city where people are often reluctant to pose for your camera. A final thing to say, for those who don’t want to be too cut off from home; there is wifi internet and if it goes down – which happens – you can use the computer in the office.

In Summary - The Riad Noga is an excellent, very comfortable Riad in a friendly, central and interesting part of Marrakech. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is one of great calm. Sitting on the roof reading or dozing whilst enjoying the sounds and smells of the bazaar below and having the azaan (call to prayer) wending it’s way to you is everything you hoped it would be. Of course, going out into the bazaar is a must-do for any tourist, and if you’re staying at the Noga it’s right on your doorstep. 

Three days was not enough for us in the Riad Noga. We’d visit Marrakech again just to stay within it’s walls, knowing that we’d come away refreshed, relaxed and renewed.

For more information on Riad Noga, please click the link below; http://www.riadnoga.com

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