Guesthouses and Hostelries of Character in Morocco

10th edition

Useful to know

Reserving your stop-overs in these beautiful, traditional houses (riads, dars, kasbahs, hostelries of character and guest farms) which, from the simplest to the most luxurious, offer service of the highest quality, will enable you to experience the different cultures and visit the various magnificent regions of one of the African continent’s most beautiful countries. And no matter where the establishments you choose are located or which category they fall into, you will be enchanted by the architecture, receive a genuinely warm welcome from your host, experience the legendary hospitality of Morocco at first hand, and savour a cuisine whose secrets have been passed down from generation to generation.

The word "Nepenthes" is of Ancient Greek origin and means: "Cure for sorrow". When, beneath the shade of orange trees and bathed in a myriad of bewitching aromas, you doze to the sound of water cascading from the fountains of patios or interior gardens, when you are soaking up the sun on medina terraces or in the grounds of sumptuous residences, when you take a refreshing dip in the ponds or swimming-pools therein, when you relax in the hammams to be found in many of the establishments portrayed here, I have no doubt whatsoever you will confirm that these "Guesthouses and Hostelries of Character" are truly an excellent cure for sorrow.

Legend has it that the "Riad" is an image of the Garden of Eden... I am not altogether sure that those who undertook the building of their houses where nothing but sand had previously existed, or transformed riads, dars and kasbahs of the south into "Guesthouses and Hostelries of Character" always felt that this was so. Fortified by courage and patience, and a true love of these often dilapidated buildings, many almost in ruins, the new owners have in most cases (there are unfortunately a few exceptions, which do not appear in this guidebook) restored their houses using the materials and techniques of yesteryear, equipping their guest-rooms with the most modern of comforts and redecorating them in style. These residences which, depending on the station of the families that once occupied them, vary in size and in luxury, are one and all showpieces of traditional Moroccan architecture and Arabo-Andalusian culture - the gaps (very finely sculpted plasterwork) and columns, the painted ceilings and antique woodwork live and breathe once more...

Having for the most part belonged to important families and been built in the hearts of the Medinas, these riads and dars - a riad without a garden is called a dar, meaning (house) whose golden rule was to stay hidden away, blending in with the city and concealed from the eyes of casual passers-by, were in great need of renovation if they were to live again. The attraction that these ancestral homes hold for an ever growing number of travellers in search of authenticity has enabled their resurrection along with that of the medinas that shelter them.

Aware of this new tourist attraction, municipalities and communities have been making major efforts to smarten up and keep clean the derbs* leading to these residences and, not least in importance, to have them discreetly but efficiently policed. Guests in the medinas are thus able to go where they will, taking reasonable care of course, but without fear of being constantly bothered by unofficial guides and other customer hunters for the bazaars…

Nothing more closely resembles a riad than another riad, a dar than another dar and a kasbah than another kasbah, nonetheless, the character of each house renders it unique. The identification sheets, detailed descriptions and photographs of house interiors in this book show clear ly enough how much each establishment possesses its own special character mirroring the personality and taste of its owners.

To stay in one of these houses is to experience a life-style very different from that cultivated in Europe. Originally meant to accommodate the different branches of the same family, the premises were as much designed for communal gatherings as they were for privacy. This sense of community remains very much in evidence at breakfast, a special time when the host and his various guests can swap ideas about visits and excursions and exchange impressions and interesting addresses…


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