Like many things worth searching for Riad Chennaoui is tucked away a little away from the main square in Marrakech. A short ten minute walk but it is hidden down the labyrinth of streets that is the medina, and initially takes a little finding. In common with all Riads it is almost anonymous from the outside, with a closed door and only a sign giving away its function.
Once found however it is never forgotten, the ‘staff’ who are almost exclusively one family welcome you and immediately make you feel at home. The hostel is run more like a hotel, there is a central atrium which acts as a communal area with various rooms from double private accommodation to eight person dormitories built around this. The maids clean daily and the place is kept looking spotless from top to bottom.
The ‘main’ man is Aziz, as he is the only one able to speak English and French which is essential when dealing with guests mainly from Europe, the United State
s and Australia/New Zealand. He is ably backed up by Mohammed an extremely friendly and ple
asant gentleman that ensures the place is run for the benefit of the guests.
The facilities advertised on Hostelbookers are not entirely accurate, there is certainly not a bar, there did not appear to be any shared kitchen facilities and twenty-four hour reception is probably stretching it, but what is available is a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The beds are comfortable, towels are available, and blankets for when it gets cold
, which it can be in winter, free wireless internet and plenty of hot mint tea, sometimes with biscuits if you have been especially lucky that day! It is even possible to use the Riad computer if required.
There is a communal area, with television, usually showing football as the son is obviously a keen supporter. Tables, chairs and sofas to lounge on are provided, so there is always plenty of space to mix with the other guests and regale stories of your bartering skills in the souks. I found the showers to be warm and excellent, usually having to drag myself away from the comfort of the hot water on a cool morning.
Breakfast is not included but is well worth a few extra pennies at least once, hot Moroccan coffee, pancakes, and fresh bread with butter, preserve and honey provide a very tasty and excellent value start to the day.
It is possible to book excursions into the desert for one to four days and the prices seem extremely competitive with the various companies working from the city. There is also a ‘transfer’ service available to and from the airport again at an additional but reasonable cost.
The rooms are on three floors, the upper most ones actually being on the roof, which provides an ideal viewpoint of the city and the distant mountains, it is great for watching the sunrise or set after a day exploring the souks or attractions of the city.
The staff are very friendly and helpful, the greeting of guests could possibly be improved, often Aziz is not present and there is not anybody able to do the welcome. Even when he is around it is often a bit haphazard and often the guests are not fully informed of the facilities on offer.
These include a small hamman, which I discovered completely by accident, it is also possible to hire a sheesha and they will also buy some beer locally for consumption in the Riad. It is unfortunate that not all of this information is passed on consistently to guests on arrival.
I thoroughly enjoyed a very pleasant stay at the Riad Chennaoui, comfortable, clean excellent value and run in a very pleasant manner. It is certainly worth the ten minute walk to the main square and searching this hidden gem out is definitely recommended.