Sometimes, you will travel somewhere just to stay at a certain hotel and other times, you find the best options based on where you are going to maximize your enjoyment of the place. When looking at accommodation options in Marrakesh, we experienced some challenges;
- Should we spend all our nights in the Medina of Marrakesh?
- Should we spend 1-2 nights in the resorts area about a 30 minute drive away from the medina?
- Would we be able to find a room at a property that checked off all the things on our wish list at a price we could afford?
- Should we just splurge and stay where we really want to stay?
After much consideration and research, we eventually narrowed down our options to 8 properties and assessed them according to our preferred criteria:
But just as were about to book one of the hotels in this list, we stumbled upon a new boutique hotel called Dar Kandi located in the medina that checked off most if not all the boxes for our Top Criteria. In this post, we share detailed review and photos of Dar Kandi to help you decide if you want to stay here or not.
Dar Kandi is a relatively new riad style boutique hotel in the Median of Marrakesh. It has about 44 reviews on TripAdvisor since October 2018 of which 43 are Excellent and 1 Very Good. Dar Kandi might be new but the building itself has a lot of history; it was built in 1915 for one of Thami el-Glaoui’s brother’s. Eventually, American art patron Patti Cadby Birch purchased it and was restored to what it is today. As you can see, the before and after pictures are astounding!
If you are interested, here is the old real estate listing pre-renovation: https://www.chic-marrakech.com/grand-andalusian-style-328m2-riad-dar-kandi-belonged-longtime-marrakech-aficionado-art-patron-patti-birch/
And a New York Times write-up: https://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/18/realestate/marrakesh-la-mode.html
There are 6 rooms at Dar Kandi, each unique in style. Our top choice room was the Balcony Suite because it has its own private terrace but it was booked so we chose the De Luxe Suite, which is not only the largest room at Dar Kandi, but also on the highest floor with windows that open.
For a small hotel, Dar Kandi is well equipped with facilities like those that larger hotels offer:
- Food and beverage: There is a restaurant on site that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to wine and beer. It does take some time to prepare the food which means you need to order in advance through the front desk. **Breakfast was included in our rate.
- Spa: There is a hammam where up to 2 people can receive treatment.
- Pool: There is a rooftop terrace to have food, drinks, sunbathe and a plunge pool.
- Tours and Activities: They offer a wide range of activities that they arrange for you.
- Transportation: They have a transportation service to and from the airport and to other places you want to go for a fee.
- Other: They provide guests with a cell phone for use during their stay in case you get lost; the Dar Kandi front-desk number is saved. They also offer a laundry service for 2 euros per piece which we find a little steep.
Since Dar Kandi is a newer hotel, we did have some concerns about staying here, even if the reviews were generally positive if only because it is not as established as other hotels in Marrakesh’s Medina. In the end, it was the right decision and we really enjoyed our stay for the following reasons.
Located in a quieter part of the medina, Dar Kandi gives you the chance to experience neighbourhood life away from the busier parts of the souk. Just a short walk away, there is a bakery, a convenience store (more like a stall), a few shops, and you get to see people’s day-to-day-lives. It is also a short walk to the Dar el Bacha Musee des Confluences, a currency exchange, the souk, and the Carrefour is only a 10-minute walk away. Overall, you are close enough to the chaos but also far enough from it too. We loved walking around early before everything was opened and too busy to take photos and just to stand in one spot for longer than 10 seconds.
The verdict: If you like walking and photography, you will enjoy staying at Dar Kandi since it is in a great location away from the more crowded areas in the medina. It was also easy to go out and explore and return for a rest a few times per day.
- Breakfast: We looked forward to breakfast every morning, which was a selection of Moroccan items with western items to please everyone. The breakfast is more or less the same each day; you can order eggs with tomatoes and cheese or without, you get a small fruit bowl, orange juice, a wedge of plain cheese, yogurt, a selection of pastries and breads are served with honey and preserves, and you can choose between coffee or tea. There was always way too much food and we felt bad wasting and we were by far more interested in the Moroccan breads than the western ones for sure; the Mahrash and the Harcha were our favorites. Coffee is not as popular in Morocco and so we had to ask for extra because it is brewed and served in small pots that provide 4 very small cups.
- Dinner: We also had dinner at Dar Kandi one night and really enjoyed it; as mentioned in our tips, the tajines served, especially the chicken one ended up being the best one we ate! They sell wine and beer by the bottle to accompany the meal. We ordered beer but it wasn’t cold enough so they asked us to wait and still served the beer warmer than they should have. The beers we ordered and had on the rooftop were properly chilled though and we appreciated the olives they provided since they were a good beer snack.
We booked the De Luxe Suite which is a room on the highest floor with a nice view of the courtyard, windows that open, has a king bed and both a shower and bathtub. The décor is a little funky but really unique and fun with the bright pinks and green, the prints and the statue of a head, which is very common. It is hard to find a king bed in some of the rooms and so this was a big priority for us and the bed was incredibly convertible with spectacular linens; we give the bed, pillows and bedding a 10 out of 10. After walking in the souk and returning to the room, we really did get a sense they purchased the items from there and appreciated that as it added character and culture to the rooms.
The bathroom has two showers but one is decorative as no water came out and it has a nice soaker tub that Max used and was able to fill it up with hot water and use the bath salts provided by Dar Kandi.
The housekeeping was also impeccable; they also timed things well so that we would leave after breakfast and come back to a room that was made-up.
We also appreciated how the room was not cluttered with a television since we always prefer not to have a TV in the room.
A few things were challenging in the room and should be noted:
- Stairs: Anyone with mobility issues may have trouble in walking up the stairs since they are narrow and do curve.
- Storage: The room has a large closet and a few shelves but no dresser so we hung up our clothes but kept the rest of it in our suitcase on the floor.
- Outlets: We have been spoiled with USB charging or other adapters and there was no option other than to use an adapter. We never travel with one so that was definitely our fault.
- Fridge: The rooms don’t have a fridge so it is not easy to chill beverages.
- Child-friendly: We do not consider this a child-friendly hotel.
The verdict: The De Luxe Suite was the perfect room for us, even if it didn’t have a balcony; it would have been too cold to sit out there in the morning or during the evening. It was really peaceful, comfortable, unique, and fun to stay in this room. You can also hear the call to prayer but it was faint and so if you like to sleep in, you won’t be woken up.
Not only is Dar Kandi a beautiful small boutique hotel but the service truly is top-notch. We highly recommend using their transportation service on arrival; Muhammad, the driver was tracking our flight on Flight Radar 24 and also made sure Abdel was there to meet us and guide us to Dar Kandi.
At check-in, you are welcomed with Moroccan mint tea, provided with a cell phone in case you get lost, have caring staff who help you make restaurant reservations, and people who really care about making your stay in Marrakech memorable. A big thank you to Aouatif, Abdel, Muhammad, and the rest of the staff for taking such good care of us.
We were also sitting up on the rooftop and someone came up to make sure we had everything we needed and to take drink orders which was nice.
The kitchen staff is small and they work so hard to make all the meals and serve them at the time you ask for them. It is incredible that they do so much from such a small space!
The verdict: At Dar Kandi, you get personalized service like at a bed and breakfast and a higher-end luxury hotel so it is the best of both worlds. The staff is helpful and present but not intrusive which is nice since it feels like you have space and freedom to enjoy your stay without being waited on hand and foot which we don’t particularly enjoy.
The rooftop terrace:
The rooftop terrace was a great spot to have breakfast, relax in the afternoon and to watch sunset. The pool is small but it is nice and well maintained. As it was November and the temperatures were quite cool at night, the water was too cold for most but Max enjoyed a refreshing swim one afternoon.
The verdict: The rooftop terrace is a nice spot to relax anytime and if you don’t have a balcony room, this is a great spot to get some fresh air. It is also impressive such a small hotel has a pool of this size.
Here are our ratings for our stay in November 2019:
- Location: 5/5 Good for those who like to explore.
- Facilities: 4/5 Not a full resort but great facilities for a small hotel with 6 rooms. We are docking 1 point because of the laundry service.
- Room: 4/5 We loved the DeLuxe Suite and would book it again or the balcony room.
- Dining: 4/5 We tend to avoid eating meals at hotels but dinner at Dar Kandi was top-notch.
- Service: 5/5 They gave a great team of people here who care.
- Total: 22/25
We would definitely stay here again. If you are looking for a low-key and comfortable place to stay, Dar Kandi is a good choice. We do believe it is falling under the radar right now but think it will become even more popular that it will be difficult to find availability like other places we have stayed.
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