Marrakech is much more than a thousand-year-old city with a rich and eventful past. Marrakech has an incomparable aura and, above all, a unique atmosphere of oriental tales that offers a real delight to the senses. What particularly characterizes the city is the pungent scent of spices rising from the souk. And the hurly-burly of people pressing their way through the streets and alleys of the medina, seemingly imprisoned between the walls of clay and straw, which are the colour of the setting sun and have given Marrakech the sonorous nickname El Hamra, the Red City.
“Owned by Serge and Helene Pilicer, the Riad combines superb Moroccan craftsmanship with pieces of antique furniture, textiles, lighting and local art, making it feel more like a home than a hotel.“
In the historical heart of the Medina, between the Medersa Ben Youssef and the Marrakech Museum, close to the Souks and the famous Jemâa el-Fna place, lays the Riad Camilia. This vast and luxurious renovated house dated from the 17th century will make you enjoy unforgettable moments of authenticity and refinement.
Owned by Serge and Helene Pilicer, the Riad combines superb Moroccan craftsmanship with pieces of antique furniture, textiles, lighting and local art, making it feel more like a home than a hotel.
This Riad of charm offers large and comfortable rooms and suites combining tradition and modernity. It has 4 luxury suites and 2 rooms of varying styles. All suites have unique art pieces, Egyptian cotton sheets, air conditioning, central heating, WiFi and absolutely stunning interiors.
We have chosen the suite Dar El Bacha for our stay. It is the largest suite in the Riad with 80 sqm, and must be one of the largest suites in the whole Medina. It’s huge, but at the same time cosy and intimate! Situated on the first floor the suite combines a large bedroom, a living room – work office, a vast living room with a remarkable fireplace, a dressing and a large “Boujad” marbled bathroom.
All rooms are surrounding a verdant patio with glass vaults. The private gallery proposes a resting couch where you can completely relax.
You can also relax in the SPA area of the Riad comprising Hammam and Massage rooms, or in the three splash pools in the courtyard and on the terrace.
The terrace deserves a separate article! You can enjoy the fairy atmosphere of Marrakech on one of the largest terraces of the Medina (650 sqm), planted with trees and flowers, at the sun rising or sunset, with a view of the Atlas, ideal for sunbaths or private gatherings.
The lovers of Moroccan cuisine can enjoy traditional dishes served in tranquil and intimate areas. Riad Camilia prides itself on its approach to serving delicious traditional Moroccan home cooking in the manner Italians would describe as ‘cucina della nonna’ (Grandmother’s cooking).
The emphasis on dining at Riad Camilia is the use of fresh local produce, attentive service and comfortable relaxed surroundings. The food of Morocco lends itself well to vegetarian cuisine, therefore there are a variety of flavoursome salads and delicately spiced vegetable dishes on Riad’s menus. Dining in Riad Camilia is a truly memorable experience that celebrates the seductive nature of Moroccan cooking and it’s available per request.
Those who fall for the magical charm of Marrakech find a neglected riad or abandoned palace, and have the courage to rescue it from the ravages of time. Such as our amazing hosts in the Riad Camilia. Serge and Helene reinvested the building with their former glory and in so doing rediscover long-forgotten materials and methods. Thanks to such committed people that we have been able to have a real feeling of the city, observing the magic of Moroccan design and tranquillity of a luxury oasis in the chaos of the Medina, the enchanting character of Marrakech.
We sat with Serge and Helene to get to know more about the magical Riad Camilia and to listen to their story.
Chic Icon: What’s your background and how did you decide to open a boutique hotel?
Serge: Our couple has a complementary background. My wife was Nespresso’s Worldwide CFO and I created and managed International forums on digital and innovation, the latest being the world forum on tourism of the future. The Boutique Hotel is the best compromise between commercial development and the close human relationship. The boutique hotels enrich the meeting of others while classic hotels are impersonal.
CI: Why did you choose Marrakech among other Moroccan cities?
Helene: Marrakech has assets that other cities do not have. Marrakech has become an International vibrant hub, keeping its imagination and its roots in the past.
CI: Any secret locations and tips you can give to someone coming to Marrakech for the first time?
S: Immersion in the heart of families is the only way to discover the secrets of Marrakech from the inside. Marrakech has this ability not to leave you indifferent and only walking in the dars (houses) make you discover, behind the sober facades, the secret and unusual Medina. The most beautiful purchases are behind closed doors or in unlikely back shops. To enjoy Marrakech is to accept the unknown.
CI: Tell us about the history of Riad Camilia! Why did you choose a Riad as a home to your boutique hotel?
H: This former house of the Prefect of Marrakech (“El Ouali”) transformed into a beautiful authentic house is a haven of peace and has one of the largest garden terraces of the Riads of the Medina. We believe that the difference between Riad Camilia and beautiful luxury hotels is that luxury does not revive the past.
CI: How long time the whole renovation took?
S: The renovation has been an on-going effort that lasted about 10 years. It took patience to revive this old house which today offers exceptional comfort while preserving the jewels of Moroccan architecture.
CI: Each room is very individual and is a true masterpiece of the Moroccan design! What has inspired you?
S: The aim has been to create spaces like a trip around the world by integrating each element of décor into Moroccan culture with harmony.
CI: What is special about the Riad Camilia?
H: The strength of Riad Camilia is that nothing is special but that everything is exceptional. No element of architectural decoration dominates, which creates a harmonious and rich set of experiences.
CI: What kind of exclusive services do you offer to your guests?
H: We offer human availability and support, which goes beyond all material services. Riad Camilia is centered on the individual.
CI: Do you organize private events and weddings?
S: Half of our activity is based on the organization of tailor-made private and corporate events such as weddings, board meetings, privatization, fashion shootings, cultural and artistic meetings.
CI: What are your plans for the near future?
S: Our short-term goal is to expand our wellness center and make our roof top “the place to be” in Marrakech in terms of meetings and social gatherings.