Jan and Rachid, the managing owners of The Repose Luxury Riad, know how to treat guests well. They anticipate guests’ needs and wants, at all stages of their stay, and ensure they deliver. Jan gave me incredibly helpful information to make finding my way to Rabat easy (a surprising rarity, even from the perspective of a travel writer!), and ensured a driver met me at the train station and escorted me right to their door so I wouldn’t get lost. Jan welcomed me with delicious mint tea and homemade treats, and patiently explained all Rabat’s sites and several options on how to get there, giving me their hand-drawn annotated map. The hotel even provides guests with tram tickets at cost, making it incredibly easy to get around.
The riad is on the Salé side of Rabat, across the estuary which leads out to the Atlantic (take the 20 cent rowboat across, the 60 cent tram, or walk a little further across a bridge). Salé is the smaller, more traditional side of Rabat, with a pretty medina with real people going about their daily lives. Refreshingly, I found kids playing (and asking if I’d take their photo) rather than touts calling out to me to buy their wares. A short walk along the medina walls brings you to a marina with an abundance of modern restaurants with patios overlooking the water.
But make sure you eat at least one meal at The Repose. The kitchen is a highlight. My breakfast was different each day of my stay, featuring eggs, yogurt, pastries, fruit, and fresh juice, all prepared from scratch. I was very impressed with my 5-course dinner. Billed as “local, home-cooked wholesome vegetarian cuisine”, it was also surprisingly sophisticated. Everything except the butter was homemade, and it was absolutely delicious. Nice weather means dining on the large rooftop terrace.
Flipping through their photo album, you’ll be amazed that Jan and Rachid were able to transform the old dilapidated building into The Repose, which opened in 2010. There are just four suites at this micro hotel. I stretched out in the large crimson Arabian suite, but would have been just as comfortable in the cheery Mango suite or in the deep blues of the Chefchauouen suite. The African room is lovely too, its tribal prints and animal silhouettes reminding you of Morocco’s neighbours further to the south. As in all riads, suite windows open into an inner courtyard. There are shutters (no glass) to give you some privacy.
The Repose has lots on offer, from massage to henna designs to men’s shave, as well as cooking classes with market visit. They’ll even arrange afternoon tea with a local family (for a donation directly to the family), and Jan can translate if needed. I love it that you can choose to visit a middle-of-the-road family or a poor family (or both!) to increase your understanding of what life in Morocco is really like.
A stay at the Repose gives you a nice mix of hotel luxuries and the experience of real Moroccan life. The weather was gloomy during most of my visit — your photos will look cheerier than mine!