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The Repose riad, one of the best riads in Rabat, Morocco

by Apr 11, 2019Morocco

The medinas of Morocco can be all-engulfing to your senses, so a riad (or guesthouse) can be a calming retreat. The Repose in the Salé medina area, one of the best riads in Rabat, Morocco, blends Moroccan tradition with subtle nods to modern Western comforts with the result being a centrally located hotel with never-ending hospitality.

Opened in 2009 after 14 months of meticulous renovation based on original plans tracked down by owners Jan, originally from the United Kingdom, and her husband, Rachid, from Morocco, The Repose riad is considered one of the top hotels in the Rabat area. And I agree with a whole-hearted three-cheers.

The Repose riad – Moroccan tradition with Western sensibility

Behind the simple wooden doors that line the narrow alleys of Moroccan medinas (walled cities and town centers) are homes, some of which have been transformed into small hotels. Traditionally, these homes are built around central courtyards with several floors and, often, a rooftop terrace. They are not necessarily large either, lending a charming, cozy feel.

The Repose Riad 1st floor courtyard

The Repose riad’s 1st floor showing the Mango Suite, straight ahead, and the Chefchaouen Suite to the left. Traditionally, rooms open off central “shaft” courtyards that continue up and down.

Such is the case with The Repose riad, with its seven rooms – one on the ground floor, three on the first floor and three on a new floor added Summer 2019. The salon on the ground floor is a cool retreat from the country’s heat (the very reason for this construction style), with couches, fountains, greenery, nooks and crannies for gathering with a group, or nestling in with a book. The first floor has a traditional open “shaft” center, in this case with rooms on three sides of the quadrangle. Now another level higher with the addition of another floor for three more room in 2019, the beautifully tended garden terrace on the roof offers another area for sun-bathing or dining, tables and chairs for curling up and relaxing, as well as views over the rooftops of the medina (now even better since it’s higher!). Again, as in tradition, the center courtyard extends up and opens to the top, allowing for cooling breezes to enter the home.

Rooms meld beautiful craftsmanship and modern comforts

Each room is unique, ranging from the African Room downstairs, to the Mango and Chefchaouen suites upstairs, along with the largest of the original four, the Arabian Suite, also on the first floor. Each has a different décor and color scheme. In spring 2019, I enjoyed the Chefchaouen Suite, with its blue theme taken from the Moroccan city of the same name. A comfortable king bed, reading lights, a sitting area, plus the more modern mini-bar with coffee machine and drinks made working or relaxing perfect in this great riad in Rabat. Free Wifi also worked well (better than most at other riads), and the bathroom – take care on the short narrow steps in the night! – had immediate hot water, plush towels and a magnifying mirror! On a second visit, in fall 2019, we both stayed in the Arabian Suite, which doesn’t have quite the narrow stairs into the bathroom plus it has a larger sitting area.

The Repose riad Chefchaouen bathroom

A welcoming bathroom, also in blues, at The Repose riad. The roomy shower is behind the ice block to the right.

HITT Tip: When traveling in Morocco, be sure to have a small flashlight or other light for maneuvering around rooms, where uneven or half steps could trip up Westerners unused to such irregularities.

The newer three rooms – Asilah, Safron, and Zero – are comparable in size to all the others (except the African room on the ground floor, which is quite a bit smaller), but they have a slightly more modern aesthetic. We particularly liked the Zero room – everything in the room is recycled or upcycled, including the cut-off jeans that provide pockets on each side of the bed, the former skateboard now a seat at the desk, and the old school lockers as a closet. Not at all “Moroccan,” but super fun nonetheless. Let Jan take you on a tour to explain what everything originally was!

Great meals, superb hospitality, fine extras

Check-in involves the typical Moroccan hospitality with a relaxing sit and hot mint tea served with style — and homemade goodies.

The Repose Riad Tea With Style

Breakfast, included with your stay, is a plentiful spread with traditional breads, combined with sweets, savories, eggs, fruit, cheese and other goodies. Take your time and enjoy.

Diners, if you choose to add on that extra at The Repose, is a blend of Moroccan foods with the fine plating and modern serving finesse often not experienced in traditional Moroccan restaurants. Now called “No. 17 at The Repose,” the restaurant service there is also open to non-guests for lunch or dinner with advance booking. The weather cooperated for us to enjoy dinner on the rooftop for a relaxing, refined feast. Note: All dinners are vegan or vegetarian, which we found to be a refreshing change of pace from all the meat you normally eat in the country. Plus, Jan understands the Western desire to not necessarily eat so late and will accommodate earlier seatings if desired.

The Repose dinner dessert

Lemon parfait crunch added just that right light bite after the meal, with a lemon-ginger granita on the side.

Massages are also available on-site – I only booked a few hours in advance – and worth the treat.

Comforting touches

Although many riads have hosts who speak English (or French), being greeted by Jan with her English accent adds to the ease and is a great touch at this top rabat riad for Westerners. Free free to ask her questions about the country, traditions, foods or anything else you have wondered about since she has a thorough understanding of both your questions and Moroccan traditions after being there 15 years. She is a wonderful host, offering you an area map she made herself (and quite proud of it, she noted).

Rooms each have their own superb heat and air conditioning system, toiletries are available in rooms, linens are plush, too. If however, you want to use the in-room robes or slippers, there is a small extra charge, as well as charges for partaking in the beverages in the room, including coffee.

The best Riads In Rabat The Repose rooftop terrace

The Repose rooftop garden terrace in the Salé medina of Rabat — a delight daytime or nighttime

The Repose, one of the best riads in Rabat

Before visiting, you may hear the entire city called Rabat, but make no mistake, it is like two towns separated by the Bouregreg River – Rabat on one bank and “Salé” on the other. Rabat is the capital of Morocco, but those from the Salé side will say so with pride. The Repose riad offers charm, tradition and real finesse under one roof in the quaint Salé medina in an easily accessible location making it one of the best riads in Rabat without question.

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