Blue Days at Riad Baraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco.

By Posted in - Accommodations & Africa & Travel Blog on January 26th, 2012

Editors Note: This is the fourth review in an ongoing series that will highlight each property–hostel and hotel–we stayed at during The Hazy Shade of Autumn Tour as part of our partnership with the good folks at HostelBookers.com.

Story by Randy | Photography by Beth

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

(Great views of the Chefchaouen hills out of the bathroom window.)

We stood outside of the Chefchaouen bus station looking up at a steep street trying to orientate ourselves to a city that we forgot to prepare for. Luckily, we spotted a cab nearby, so we grabbed it to Plaza Uta el-Hammam, the main square, just as the rain stopped.

During the Hazy Shade of Autumn Tour, we got pretty good at preparing for our arrival into new destinations. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for Chefchaouen. Halfway through the four hour bus ride from Fez to the famed blue-walled city, we realized we had forgotten to write down the name and address of our hostel, Riad Baraka, as well as how to get there. Oops.

The road to Plaza Uta el-Hammam dead ends in front of the Hotel Parador, so we paid the cab driver (11 dirham or $1.25) and immediately went into the hotel to see if we could use its internet or Wi-Fi. Bingo! They had free Wi-Fi, we were set…but then we couldn’t connect. After 20 minutes of trying to communicate with the hotel staff about the Wi-Fi issue we started to think of plan B. Next option, locate one of the cyber cafés from our guidebook.

I waited at the dead end turnaround with our bags, as Beth disappeared into the foreign plaza. Several minutes later, I saw her reappear and enter a no-name store about 100 yards from me. She went in the store to find the location of the cyber cafe and as it turned out it was the cyber cafe – luck was on our side! After a long 10 minutes (she said negotiating an Arabic keyboard was tougher than it looked), she finally emerged with the details and we were on our away.

Walking through Plaza Uta el-Hammam with luggage is like walking into a kindergarten classroom with a bag full of lollypops. Within in a few minutes, we had a guide who offered to take us to the front door.

These “guided tour” transactions happen quickly, and go something like this:

Guide: “Hello. What are you looking for?”

Me: “Riad Baraka, I say, pointing to our notebook address.”

Guide: “OK, OK, follow me,” he says, and then he’s off.

That’s it. It happens fast and if you don’t want his services speak up quickly and loudly. In my experience, there is no talk of cost, because these guys work strictly on tips.

Into the Medina’s Blue-Walled Heart

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Dashing through the narrow, rain washed blue walls, Beth and I smiled at each other, fully realizing we would have had a difficult time finding the Riad for the first time without the help of our guide, because we were at the other end of the Medina. (Later, we found out that Riad Baraka is only 70 meters from the Medina’s main gate, Bab el Lain). At the door, we handed our guide a 20 dirham ($2.35) tip just as Joe opened the door and welcomed us inside from the cold November drizzle.

Walking into Riad Baraka was like visiting an old friend’s house. The guest house had a warmth and coziness, like that of a bed and breakfast, with the style and character of a high-end boutique hotel. It is run by a British family—brothers Joe and Trevor and their mother, Ann—who’ve been living in Chefchaouen for nearly a decade. They’ve transformed the 600-year-old Riad into an immaculately clean guest house that blends traditional Moroccan styles—rugs, lamps and architecture—with western comforts, including plush beds, Wi-Fi and in-house laundry.

In itself the guest house is fantastic, but what really sets it apart is the love that the family brings to the Riad and its guests. In fact, thinking about Riad Baraka always reminds me of this line from Tom Waits, “What makes a house grand / Ain’t the roof or the doors / If there’s love in a house / It’s a palace for sure.” From our first English Tea to our last, Joe and Trevor (Ann was out of town) made us feel at home. The atmosphere in the guest house was light and jovial and there were often guests siting in the common living room reading and talking about past and future travels. And even though Riad Baraka was full or nearly full each day we were there, the four-story guest house and its shared bathrooms never felt crowded.

Additionally, having Joe and Trevor’s knowledge of Chefchaouen as well as Morocco was an invaluable benefit. Not only did they know the ins and outs of the city, but they also were able to provide fantastic recommendations for dining options and tips for sightseeing around the city and nearby towns. One of the brother’s was always around to answer questions or help out in a way they could. For example, midway through our stay Beth got food poisoning and Joe and Trevor went out of their way to make her as comfortable as possible, including sending out their friend and co-worker Mohammed to get the ingredients for a traditional Moroccan tea to help her stomach.

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

YUM. The Riad’s breakfast was a great way to start the day.

During the Hazy Shade of Autumn Tour, Beth and I got to stay at some phenomenal properties as part our partnership with HostelBookers, and Riad Baraka was one of our favorites. A splendid breakfast— fresh fruit, yogurt, croissant and tea—coupled with impeccable service, atmosphere and location are all hallmarks of this guest house. If you are going to Chefchaouen, we couldn’t recommend this place more, private rooms (dorms only have 2 beds in the room) range from $15.83 to $23.41. (If you are a solo traveler make sure to ask about a discounted room rate.)

The two bed dorm room with handmade lamps and paintings.

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Our bedroom and one of the beautifully tiled bathrooms. Note the inlaid star and moon tiles in our room – so cool!

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, MoroccoPhotos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

The Living/Reading/Breakfast hang out spot:

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

The Nook – a great place to work, chill out and read!

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Gorgeous patio with breathtaking views of Chefchaouen:

Photos of Riad Barraka in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Note from Beth: I really loved this Riad. Not only was it really cute and comfy it was also the personalities of Joe and Trevor that really made it stand out. I was so violently ill and honestly there couldn’t have been a better place to be. I knew if I took a turn for the worse they would make sure that I was ok and had the medical attention I would’ve needed. Plus, they are just great, funny guys who are easy to hang out and talk with. It felt a bit like being home in a location that was very far from home. Joe also speaks four languages (English, French, Arabic & Spanish) which is very helpful. Mohammed is their very talented employee who did all the paintings in the Riad! I also wanted to note that their outdoor, multi-level patio is beautiful! With the same inlaid moon and sun tile throughout it is absolutely gorgeous and a relaxing place to hang out. They also prepare meals at Riad Baraka and host BBQ cookouts on the roof. If you’re headed to Chefchaouen please consider staying here. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy the town and relax.


*Our stay was complimentary; however, our thoughts and opinions are entirely our own.

**Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website, Nariko’ s Nest Weddings & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!

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(9) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Bridgette -

    January 26, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Amazing! I want to go now! Great review and gorgeous photos!

  • Claire -

    January 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Looks like a great place to stay, the breakfast looked awesome!

  • jan -

    January 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Checkaouen is one place in Morocco that I really want to see. The riad looks so wonderfully eclectic – just my kind of place. Just as well you were staying here when you were sick Beth – knowing you were in such good hands!

  • Caro from Passport and a Toothbrush -

    January 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I’m in love! Southern Spain is on our rtw itinerary but more and more I’m realizing I won’t be able to resist going over to Morocco! As always, great pictures!

  • Sam from Bandage Dresses -

    January 29, 2012 at 5:20 am

    That is so freaken colorful! All the places in the United States seem to all look alike, its really cool just to see the style from another country.

  • Elena -

    March 21, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    So much for being an honest “travel source” for others, Randy.

    You can never delete this though –

    (DELETED LINK BECAUSE THIS PERSON ANNOYS ME)

    this paid press article of yours has only 5 responses… my article has 135 in about 2 weeks or so.

    including comments from other people who were abused in this hotel by the owner.

    My site will keep growing and Hotel Baraka will forever be listed on it as THE WORST HOTEL IN THE WORLD.

    • Bethany -

      March 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      Hello Elena,

      Please do not come back to our site. Let’s first address all of your crazy issues:

      1. Don’t put links in your comments because they automatically get tossed in our spam folder. We actually did not see your comment because it was in there and only saw this because we were running a contest and I decided to go through spam and make sure I hadn’t missed any entries. Lucky me, I found this insulting comment from you instead. And YES, I TOOK OUT YOUR LINK.

      2. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Hotel Baraka. I really don’t know what to tell you. We had a great time there and the owners were very nice to us and everyone there. Everyone at the place was very happy. In fact, I got very ill while there and the owners went out of their way to get me some medicine. They were very nice. If you stayed there because of our review, I’m sorry you didn’t have a good time. Other people we know who stayed there also had a good time. Perhaps you are just too high maintenance and insulting and thus cannot stand it unless people pay 100% attention to you. I don’t know.

      What I do know is that you should not come onto our site and insult us for no reason at all. That is rude.

      3. This is not a paid press article. We were not paid to write this review and our review is an honest one. Again, stop opening your pie hole and making assumptions about things you know nothing about. Then stop using your assumptions to insult us.

      4. Congrats on your 135 semi fake comments. We see how you got those through WordPress and congrats to you on falsely inflating your comment numbers. Have fun with that.

      5. Again, I am sorry you had a bad time at this place. We had a good time and stand by our review. We would definitely stay there again and recommend it to others. I’m not sure why you decided to come to our site just to blast this place. We have no affiliation with them – we stayed there. We liked it. Other people we know who stayed there also really liked it. Sorry you didn’t have the same experience, maybe you should look inward to have a better travel experience, instead of blasting your hate all over the place and including us under your strange umbrella of insults.

      • Elena -

        March 31, 2013 at 12:06 am

        Wow. Not once did I use profanity in my comment to you, sorry you felt you
        had to. Very sorry for thinking you just deleted it, since it wasn’t a
        positive feedback, it’s my mistake. Yes, I have read your review prior to
        the visit and I really enjoyed your blog and photography. My 1 star review
        on tripadvisor is not the only one… if you read all 1-2 star reviews,
        you’ll see that they are all very similar.

        I’m not high maintenance, have backpacked solo through rural parts of
        Africa, using public transport and camped in the jungle with the most
        amazingly kind people.

        The comments people leave me are real and they come back, because of how
        and what I write.
        Again, I’m sorry that I have made a mistake by thinking you just deleted
        the comment because of the negative experience at Baraka. I totally
        understand about the links and wouldn’t mind if the link was deleted and
        the comment left. It’s not a big deal. It is your work and you have the
        right to choose which comments to have or not.

        Above my comment box, it reads ” speak your truth ” … it’s nice when
        you’re able to do that, isn’t ?

        I wish you all the best with your work and travel journeys.

        Again, I’m sorry for this misunderstanding and in it’s result.

        Love & Light to you.

        Let there always be a road…

        • Bethany -

          April 1, 2013 at 5:51 am

          Hi Elena,

          I didn’t use any profanity but I do appreciate your reply. I’m sorry for the harshness within my reply but I was insulted at your initial comment and really couldn’t understand why you were leaving a comment just to insult us. We always welcome people to speak the truth and we always speak the truth on our blog. I’m sure as a fellow blogger you can see how insulting it could be that someone would just show up, assume & criticize us for doing the opposite. As bloggers, the most important thing for us and our readers is that we are 100% transparent and truthful and that is something we take great pride in.

          Again, I am sorry about the experience you had there. It’s a shame because it’s a beautiful place and we had a great time there and the owners were really helpful when I got food poisoning from a local restaurant. It’s sad that they treated you poorly and other people as well – it would be a shame if they ruined the great thing they had when we were there. We honestly don’t have any affiliation with them, other than that we stayed there.

          We wish you well on your journeys and I hope you have many more positive accommodation stays. Good luck with your blog! 🙂

          – Beth