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Riad Nyla, Marrakech Express

Archi_Diary: Riad Nyla, Marrakech Express

Jemaa el-Fna, the beating heart of Marrakech, welcomes us with its unparalleled atmosphere, a true street theater. We walk through the alleys to the heart of the medina quarter, enraptured by African and Andalusian influences.

One moment and here we are in Nyla. The riad surprises us with its multicultural soul, the typical traditional Moroccan house, once a luxury residence for members of the royal family or wealthier citizens, converted into a “maison d’hôtes“. The best to taste Morocco, in all its nuances. The architectural scheme is that of a typical Roman domus with the inner courtyard surrounded by a columned porch. The exterior is protected by large wooden gates that seem designed to isolate it from the hectic city life. This is indeed the first impact that Riad Nyla offers us, a well-deserved decompression, the transition from the rumbling outside noise to the quietness of the lobby.

We find ourselves in a patio with columns and a mosaic floor, overlooked by the rooms; in the center, a large pool holds Japanese carps, surrounded by the coolness of the plants. The welcome is typical of the place: a welcome with Moroccan green tea, fascination and discretion. The typical synthesis of Moroccan identity is enriched by stylistic and architectural inserts of western and classical origin, from the noble golden veins of Calacatta to the Pietra Piasentina on the floor. These coexist with local architectural features, such as the use of arches, carpentry with traditional patterns – moucharaby – and zelij, the white handmade ceramics of Marrakech, which combine to create a visual unity.

We leave our bags in the room and head for the wellness center, where we are struck by the choice of solutions aimed at offering a multifaceted and intense multi-sensory experience. Here Porfido Marrone ceramics on the walls and columns of the swimming pool combine with the green Moroccan zelij to create the suggestion of a warm cave where an underground river flows surrounded by vegetation. The black marble cladding the dome reproduces a starry vault, with its ivory veins like comet stars running through its full color. The sinuosity of the forms and the tactility of the materials allude to an archaic dimension, the recovery of ancestral rituals and gestures.
The restaurant also proposes the dual architectural dialectics of “tradition-cosmopolitanism” and “luxury-intimacy”. Every detail of the environment is carefully thought out. The mosaic on the floor echoes the golden veins of the Calacatta cladding the table as well as the hall counter; each compositional choice contributes to creating an atmosphere, a special world. Here you can taste typical Moroccan and international dishes, bearing an Italian touch.

Photos: Lenny Pellico | Designing: MS Design Agency - Arch. Mattia Siviero | Interior design: Corinne Dressler | Laminam distributor for Morocco: MSDA Morocco

We stay in the Kaïa suite, a luxuriously designed room, which is never overpowering. The interplay of color and texture alternates light shades and dark notes, golden and metal accents. The stylistic contrast in the mosaic floor is particularly stylish: ceramics in the shades Bruno (with an effect inspired by oxidized copper) and Avorio are worked in squares and reproduce the typical design of traditional Moroccan houses.
We find the ivory texture again in the bathroom, where the choice of re-proposing the circle as a pattern of stylistic continuity – here also in the shape of the washbasin – seems to evoke a desire for a return to perfect, pure forms. The surface of the vanity top feels as soft to the touch as a freshly plastered wall.

On the bedside table, before falling asleep, one last look at our to-do-list:

  • Palais de Bahia: get lost in the LABYRINTH of rooms of “architectural craziness” wanted by the grand vizier, to prevent wives and concubines from meeting;
  • Souq: streets of the medina, SHOPPING TOUR. To be savored like a good book, therein lies the history and soul of the country;
  • Dar El Bacha: MASTER hand workers in the courtyards;
  • Fondation Dar Bellarj: exhibition on Moroccan culture and ART; after doing, thinking;
  • Hot-air balloon tour: A VERTICAL VIEW of the city! Weather permitting;
  • Jemaa el-Fna by night: the heart of Marrakech, A MUST-SEE;

Silence immediately welcomes us. Just enough time for a smile and little more. A small yawn. Good night folks.