Sitting under the shade of leaves covering our little terrace, I watch a tortoise tug at a shrub whilst the call to prayer echoes across the sky. The soft chirping of sparrows soothes my mind as they swoop between the palm trees. A white butterfly pauses momentarily on the arm of my chair.
The abundance of wildlife at Palais El Miria adds to its Edenic image, along with the green palm fronds bursting from the ground and scarlet flowers tumbling over the earthy red walls. Everywhere you look you are overwhelmed by the colours of nature, from the large, spiky succulent plants sprouting from the rooftop to the azure flash of a dragonfly hovering over the pool. This unique riad is a peaceful retreat away from the hectic happenings of the nearby city, located just a 20 minute drive away from Djemaa El-Fna square.
Inside the palace is an Aladdin’s Cave of exquisite carpets, turquoise tiles that resemble fish scales and antique ornaments hidden behind keyhole doorways. Glass doors in the reception open up onto a beautiful walled courtyard, with potted plants and an ornate oriel balcony where sparrows perch.
The rooms are cool and dark, decorated with intricate wood carvings and traditional artwork. You are greeted by aromas of potpourri and a dish of fresh Moroccan biscuits and pastries, as well as your own pot of savon noir, the special black soap used in the hammam.
Madame Badia, the owner of the riad, was keen to ensure that we enjoyed an authentic Moroccan experience, and arranged for us to have our dinner at lunch time whenever we went out for dinner. This meant that we didn’t miss out on the evening’s steaming tagine, with dried apricots, tender lamb and sweet-smelling spices.
The large roof terrace boasts panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, with dusty orange buildings scattered along the roadside and the silent silhouette of the Atlas Mountains looming on the horizon.
Palais El Miria’s ideal location left me wishing I had a few more days to explore beyond the bustling souks and squares of the city. From camel rides and mountain hikes to surfing on the Essaouira coast, Morocco is a country that won’t be hearing the last of me.