24-Hour Room Service: Dar Karma, Marrakech

Fresh from the airport, it is a bewildering experience to arrive at a Marrakech riad at night. Just inside the walls of the medina (old town), my taxi stopped abruptly. The driver jumped out, grabbed my bag and, beckoning me to follow, left rapidly on foot down a dark tangle of lanes.

After a few minutes of trotting behind and dodging footballs kicked by small boys, I began to wonder at the sanity of darting into this dimly lit maze. But just then, the driver deposited my bag outside a large door. He rang the bell, nodded and silently left. The door swung open and – magic. I was ushered into a beautifully lit hallway, my hand warmly shaken, my bag whisked inside. Welcome to Dar Karma.

Most riad hotels are oases of romance and luxury, but what gives Dar Karma the edge is its combination of serenity, contemporary cool, facilities and history. The building is at least 100 years old and belonged to a courtly family. Royal connections were strong in the late Fifties, when the owner served as Mohammed V's translator of French, and the king would come to drink mint tea there.

The property, which opened three years ago, is French-owned and run (with English also spoken), and has been lovingly refurbished. Coffered ceilings and wrought-iron balconies have been restored, and painted wooden doors added. Furnishings are simple and bright: white walls, Moroccan fabrics, shutters and cream curtains. The roof terrace has been transformed into a garden with olive trees and herbs, and there are sunbeds and shaded tables where breakfasts of pancakes and pastries are served.

The main courtyard, planted with orange trees, is the setting for other meals, and the second courtyard features a decent-sized swimming pool, and a lovely hammam.


Dar Karma, 51 Derb El Mennabha, Medina, Marrakech, Morocco (00 212 24 38 58 78; www.dar-karma.com). It is within the south-west walls of the medina. The King's Palace is nearby, as are some of the city's major sights: Badii Palace, Bahia Palace and Saadian Tombs.

Time from international airport: Menara airport is a 15-minute taxi ride away.


Very. With just five bedrooms, mine was styled in a minimalist fashion, which served to emphasise the wonderful carved and painted ceiling. The crimson-tiled bathroom had a huge shower area, and a rainhead shower.

Freebies: Vials of amber-and-musk shampoo, gel and body lotion. Use of the 24-hour hammam is free.

Keeping in touch: the serenity of the riad is partly due to the absence of TVs and phones in the rooms. However, there is a small flatscreen TV in the sitting room, and you may use the phone at reception. There is Wi-Fi throughout, and you can borrow the hotel computer.

The bottom line

Doubles from ¿180 (£129), including breakfast. Bookings can also be made through Boutique Souk (00 212 61 32 44 75; www.boutiquesouk.com).

I'm not paying that: RiadW (00 212 65 36 79 36; www.riadw.com, or through Boutique Souk, as before), in the medina, is similarly peaceful – but no hammam – with doubles from ¿120 (£86), including breakfast.

Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living