When you’re shopping for a riad hotel you can go for the pared-down and unpretentious, just a mellow slice of Moroccan life. Or you can go all-out epic Marrakech romance, and book in at AnaYela. There are probably places you can go if you want a bit of humble, down-to-earth traditional Moroccan experience — this, thrillingly, is not one of them.
From the moment you pass through the doors it feels like a Hollywood fantasy of a riad, come vividly to life — everything’s meticulously restored, finely crafted down to the last detail. Fittingly, it’s run by a management team and a local staff who are almost too lovely to be real, and you could say the same about the myth that ties the place together, a love story about a young girl named Yela, to whom you’ll find references hidden all through the house.
Down to brass tacks: three rooms and two suites, none of them overly large but all of them exquisitely comfortable, and all of them admirably free of phones and TVs, the better to immerse you in the romance of the place. This kind of theater is best maintained with impeccable service, and AnaYela has that base quite well covered. The obligatory rooftop deck is fine enough, but for a truly unique experience, there’s an observation tower with a panoramic view of the medina — spend a moment or two up there and the whole Yela romance starts to make a little more sense.