RIAD ANAYELA MARRAKECH
Riad AnaYela is a 300-year-old estate in the northern part of the Marrakech medina. The city house has been meticulously restored by a pair of creative German proprietors who hired an army of local artisans to handcraft everything from the hammered silver doors to the vast and finely textured tadelakt bathtubs.
The riad’s name means “I am Yela”, and it’s designed to tell the tale of a young girl named Yela who lived there, once upon a time. During renovations, the hoteliers say the story was discovered on a handwritten scroll in a small room hidden behind a wall. Now it is painted in Arabic calligraphy on the walls of the bedchambers and the ceilings of the hallways; it is embossed upon the silver doors of each room that opens onto the central courtyard as though they were the pages of a book. Indeed the bedrooms are called chapters.
The chapters are small but richly appointed, with neither phone nor television, yet they are functional, comfortable, and replete with the striking theatrical ambiance that makes AnaYela so remarkable. There is a small courtyard plunge pool and a luxuriously outfitted berber tent on the rooftop deck, with a panoramic view over the medina.
The staff members are almost surreal in their graciousness and the hotel offers delicious meals, free laundry service, and drivers willing to navigate the labyrinth of the old city, where mere mortals dare not motor. A cell phone is given to each party of guests, so that when the mind-boggling maze of colorful Marrakchi life becomes overwhelming, help is just a phone call away.