Our driver Ahmed picked us up from the Supratours bus station and loaded our luggage into the black minivan before expertly setting off through the Marrakech city streets — which is no easy feat. Motorcycles come at you from all angles, swiftly crossing intersections without so much as a sideways glance. Cart pushers move everything from fresh melons to prickly pears from one corner of the city to the other.
We pull into a parking lot in front of the large Mosque Bab Doukkala and Ahmed shows us down a few winding alleys until we come to an unmarked door. He presses the buzzer and we’re ushered in the doors of Riad Les Yeux Bleus.
We’re led to the colorful nook that I’ve seen so many times on their website. The chunky frames contrast nicely against the deep hues of the wall and Maddy pulls out the camera to start. Right then, a silver tea tray with local pastries is brought out to us while we take a moment to soak in the serene ambiance. It feels like we’re the only guests in the riad, and as the birds chirp and flit around the center pool I can’t help but feel like we’re in a dream. This is the place to be in Marrakech.
After we sip the tea we’re brought up to our room which overlooks the pool and the surrounding tiles which I just can’t get enough of. In fact, I’m sad to have not prepared for a photoshoot since this location is just unforgettable.
I unpack our things, putting them away in the colorful drawers while Maddy is off exploring nooks and crannies to make his lens happy. We’re so taken with the place that we decide we want to stay in and talk with the manager to see if it’s possible to cater to a vegan dinner menu. “Of course it is”, she says with a strong and genuine smile that can only come from the true hospitality DNA. You’ve either got it, or you don’t — and she does. The kitchen is on staff for 24 hours, so they don’t mind us choosing to have a late dinner, Spanish style. We decide to dress up (basically that means wearing the one nice outfit we’ve brought) since this is a definite treat.
Food Fit For a King and Queen, and Then Some
Walking into a candle-lit dining room with a roaring fireplace just for us feels perfect. Tucked into the corner with mounds of traditional pillows we’re comfortable and content — and then the courses begin flowing from the kitchen. Aubergine caviar, zalouk from freshly grated courgettes, Moroccan salad, taktouka, and the ever-present wrinkly, salty, black olives. Keeping with local customs we opted not to have wine and went for sparkling water.
The starters alone were enough to fill us, but our lovely waiter said he still had to bring out the next course. Imagine our surprise when the tajine was a massive, steaming centerpiece and came with a side of wire thin vermicelli dusted with cinnamon and tossed with golden raisins and blanched almonds.
We had to take a break to stand by the fire and digest before we could even think about tucking into this course. After doing our very best and savoring each bite we had to beg for mercy and ask that the dessert — fruit salad and mint tea — be served to our room so we could have it as a midnight snack. Our bedroom is a beautiful retreat and the heaters have been turned on for us, because surprisingly, even Marrakech gets cold at night. Don’t you just want to wrap yourself up in this room?
Ahhh, peeling back the sheets only to find the bed is just as comfortable as the rest of this gorgeous Riad and sleep comes easily. Waking up I can’t believe it’s time to eat again — I remember a Moroccan friend telling me that since the country doesn’t drink they like to get drunk on food. I’m starting to believe this may be true and wonder how many laps in the medina this breakfast is going to cost me.
Coffee for me, black since soy milk is a rare gem here, and mint tea for Maddy. Then we’re presented with what appears to be English muffins, fresh orange juice, and traditional Moroccan flatbread Msemen. They’re light, fluffy, and perfect with fig preserves. The sunlight on the terrace is just enough that I am not burning and we enjoy a few hours of work around the table while sipping our drinks. I can’t get over how much I love this place, I wish you were all here with me.
Much to the chagrin of poor Maddy I snap a low-quality cell phone pic of the pool area and post it to our Instagram to share my excitement over the sweet spot. Everyone agrees this looks like a magazine come to life.
We spend the day wandering around Marrakech and then duck out to Sa’ada for a pottery class where I try my hand at making my own tajine, plate, bowl, and cup. I won’t spoil the adventure for you, but let’s just say none of my masterpieces made it to the kiln.
Adventuring Out to Find Vegan Food in Marrakech
Back at our home sweet home we take a quick shower (clay really gets on you) and even though I never want to leave this gorgeous riad, it’s time to check out the most-talked-about vegan restaurant in Marrakech. We walk down the tiled staircase, follow the maze of alleys back to the street and are in Djemma el Fna before you know it.
A few minutes walk into the old medina and we arrive at Earth Cafe. I made the mistake of trying to be adventurous and try the fusion dish of rice and lentils. I feel sad that this is what people might think of vegan food if this is their first foray into it. So, this is what regret tastes like. Maddy had better luck and opted for the veggie burger which I thought was good (though great would be pushing it) but he gave it an emphatic 1 thumb down. I loved my beet and ginger juice but Maddy’s orange juice was less than fresh so I guess we were even in our ordering skills. We left wishing we’d had dinner at the riad again.
On our drive to the High Atlas mountains we saw Earth Cafe has a habit of spray painting their website and business name all over landscapes, trees, and rocks which is a serious fail in my book. That made me change my mind between us chalking up our first experience to bad luck and giving the restaurant a second try to “thanks but no thanks!”. Defacing natural property is a lame attempt at marketing for anyone, but especially an “Earth” cafe. Not to worry, there’s a great alternative right around the corner.
My advice is to go one street past their turn off (in the medina) and support Henna Art Cafe who also serves vegan food at half the price and with better flavor, ambiance, and service. Although make sure you order any “salad” with light oil or else you’re going to eat a few hundred extra calories for nothing.
Back to Our Beautiful Home
We enjoy the walk back to Riad Les Yeux Bleus and are so happy to crawl back into our comfy beds once again for tomorrow morning we start our adventure to the Kasbah du Toubkal which I’ve been anticipating for months — this is one review you’re not going to want to miss!
As always, I want to be completely transparent here: we were guests of Riad Les Yeux Bleus for two nights acommodation and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We wholeheartedly have been recommend it as the place to stay in Marrakech, especially since the owner is a wonderful humanitarian that you’re going to learn all about in the next review.
I’ve never fallen so head over heels for a design before. The staff, the atmosphere, the absolute stillness in the center courtyard — everything is a solid five stars.