The Riad Ghallia is a guest house located in the heart of the old city, or medina of Marrakesh. Its location in the medina, affordable prices, and knowledgeable owner make it an interesting place to stay, as opposed to the newer hotels outside of the medina walls. Finding budget accommodations in Marrakesh isn’t always easy – there aren’t too many hostels around – and the ones that are there vary quite a bit in terms of service and location.
The 5-room Riad Ghallia is a charming guest house and while not the cheapest of accommodations (rooms begin at $25 a night), gives you a nice look at life inside the medina walls. It was a pleasant surprise to stay there on my recent trip to Marrakesh and the Riad Ghallia combines luxury and simplicity quite elegantly.
The Riad Ghallia is a 15 minute walk from the main square in Marrakesh’s old city – that is, if you know where you’re going. Whether you’re taking a taxi there (which drops you off at the nearby Mokhef market) or attempting to find it for the first time from the square you’ll endure a journey to find it. It can be daunting at first, especially as you are approached by numerous children offering you misleading directions. It’s one of the 4 scams of Marrakesh but after a day or two you end up finding your way through the medina maze and taking little notice of the young hustlers.
The area around the Riad Ghallia is safe and it’s a place that gives you access to the back neighborhoods at night. These are parts of the town that most tourists don’t see after 9pm; children playing soccer, local barbecue grills, people sneaking shots of liqueur in a country where alcohol is taboo for most Moroccans. The atmosphere is a bit more relaxed as everyone doesn’t seem on guard for tourists and you can catch a glimpse of life when you’re not the main focus of it.
Inside The Riad
Once you enter the Riad Ghallia, the sounds and action of the busy streets are mostly shut out. The noises of the alleys fade into the background, even when you’re sitting in the common area. Here, during breakfast around 9am and after dark, is where you’re most likely to bump into other travelers. They range from families, to budget backpackers, to older couples out exploring the world. There’s a large terrace on the roof where the owner Thierry is thinking of putting a hookah for his guests.
Each room is designed uniquely and a lot of care has been taken to ensure everyone who stays at the Riad Ghallia is comfortable and has a good time during their stay. It’s cozy and relaxing which is a nice change of pace after a long day out in the hectic medina.
Breakfast With Thierry
The best part about the Riad Ghallia is its owner, Thierry. Having fallen in love with Morocco 5 years ago he opened the Riad and is a wealth of knowledge about the city and Morocco in general. You can pick his brain about everything from trips to Essaouira to the best hamams during breakfast, where on most days he chats and visits with guests. He knows the city because he goes out of his way to try out each cafe, restaurant, and tour – all of which change constantly.
Travelers looking for a quiet place to stay (with a good complimentary breakfast and wi-fi) in the beating heart of the old city should consider the Riad Ghallia. You can see some more of my pictures in my Riad Ghallia album.