Riad de Tarabel is a luxurious boutique hotel in a colonial mansion right in the heart of the old medina of Marrakech, with ten bedrooms, a roof terrace, a heated pool, open lounge and a Spa
How would you describe Dar Kawa in a nutshell?
When you come to Dar Kawa, you feel at home — there are books everywhere, it’s relaxing. It’s not like it was just decorated and things were put in place just for the guests. It’s a lived-in house.
The staff has been with me for 17 years and the cook for 14 years. So it’s like a home away from home.
How did you end up having a riad in Marrakech?
My first trip to Morocco was in 1991 and I thought one day I would live there. Six years later, that became true. I found it completely enchanting, the smells, the colours, the people, the food. It’s so close to Europe but so exotic. And the country has all types of landscapes – you have the Mediterranean sea, the desert, the Atlas mountains and of course Marrakech right in the middle. It’s not a big country so everything is easily accessible.
What was your inspiration to turn the house into a riad/hotel?
I was fascinated by the Moroccan lifestyle and architecture, so different from our standards. When we bought the house in 1996, we restored it to the look it had in the 17th century. We removed what people had changed over the centuries and only added the bathrooms and a few facilities that were not there before. The aim was to make it look like it was back then. We really respected whatever was possible in terms of materials and construction, so it became an authentic, nice house and we decided to rent it. As I am traveling a lot, I wanted to let the house live.
How would you describe the style of the hotel?
I can’t say. It’s too close for me to tell. It’s just my style. I have already redone it three times. I can only say that whatever is there is there because I like it.
Since you started renting out the riad, what has been your biggest reward about the whole experience?
I think it’s when people are happy. The hotel offers something special. It’s simple but authentic, so I’m happy when people enjoy it.
I respect when people understand that my butler and cook are there to please them. They love their jobs and it’s a big reward for me that they have been with us for 17 and 14 years. It means we have done something right and created something together.