Romance isn’t subtle at AnaYela, a recently restored riad in the heart of Marrakech — it’s literally written on the walls. The love story of Yela, a 16-year-old girl who once lived in the 300-year-old palace, and her husband has been hammered in silver across the riad’s ten-foot-tall doors. The tale was apparently discovered on a manuscript hidden in a secret room. Truth or gimmick, the theme has been stylishly incorporated by 100 Moroccan artisans, who transformed AnaYela (Arabic meaning “I am Yela”) into a five-bedroom hotel and nightspot open this week to the US market (ie they’ve unleashed an American PR firm). Riad life revolves around an inner courtyard — this one is crowned with archways and red canopies, and jeweled with an illuminated (and heated) swimming pool. The guestrooms are cream-colored and candlelit, while two are suites with twin-sized bathtubs made from brick. But since this is one of the tallest buildings in the medina, the real scene plays out on the rooftop terrace with a cocktail bar, barbecue pit and lounge beneath a “nomad tent.” Don’t forget to steal away to the “tower,” too — this private patio is where Yela met her lover. Fortunately for you, it’s curtained.

Article by
Nicole Cotroneo
found at




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