Riad Hikaya…Balm of Beauty

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. ― Rumi

It is very, very difficult to feel sad for long in Morocco, because you can never be alone in Morocco. You are surrounded by beauty…It really is a place, I think, that nourishes the soul.–John Pittaway

A picture from Persian poetry, gorgeous girls in red swung open a heavy, studded door. They beckoned me over a threshold for refuge from the dust, glare, and chaos of the Kasbah. Immediately taking my overnight bag, their attention turned to relieving me of the burden my face and body still carried.
“Welcome. Please sit. Would you like some tea?”
Like Dorothy, swept into a black-and-white Kansas cyclone, then dropped into Technicolor Oz, I had been disoriented by a painful situation but, upon landing in a dream,  became distracted from it by beauty. The terra cotta maze of the medina had morphed into a sanctuary of ruby, aqua, green and gold.


Marian and Hakema

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I had read that everything I saw on walls and floors, sat on, sat under had been designed by Jane and John Pittaway, English owners of Riad Hikaya, and handcrafted by Marrakshi artisans. I spoke with John that afternoon who studied Arabic at University and also speaks French, Spanish, and the local Moroccan dialect, Darija. Though he has lived in many parts of the Middle East including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates before moving to Marrakech, we discussed what makes this place unique…the creativity which brims here…. the tension of chaos and tranquility…the balm of beauty that banishes bad.

By dinner on the rooftop under a full moon, I was fully settled in the Rahma suite (Arabic word for compassion)– able to breathe; to let go; to accept, see and savor the gifts of kindness and peace around me.  Not only had the girls turned back my bed, sprinkling rose petals on the duvet and in the tub…not only had Fadoua fed me fresh Tabouleh, the best Lamb CousCous I’ve had, and Celebration Orange and Chocolate Cake which, trust me, is reason alone to celebrate…but Sana, at my request, stopped serving and sat down for a chat over dessert.
The next morning the moon was gone.  The sun met me on the rooftop instead.  After breakfast and a read in the jacuzzi,  I told the girls bye. I left again grateful for the kindness of strangers-now-friends.  I remembered John’s words of a 2-year planned renovation that took five years instead.  So true of life in many ways: “Anything is possible…It was an interesting journey..a way of learning.”


(from the website) Rahma, (Arabic for compassion), is situated on the first floor of the riad overlooking the smaller, mirrored courtyard.The traditional bed, fashioned from tadelakt and zelij, is framed by a hand carved ‘muqarbas’, or bedhead, with an ornate zowwaq finish. Cactus silk curtains line the tadelakt walls and frame the artisanal, wooden shutters. Hand painted plaster motifs, soft kelim armchairs and vintage berber carpets complete the luxurious feel.


Hand painted tadelakt bath and a monsoon shower crafted from zelij and maillechort, a metal favoured by Marrakshi artisans which in English is known as nickel silver





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Fresh roses

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A thing of beauty is a joy forever;

Its loveliness increases…it still will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.–John Keats

What a difference a day makes.  Thanks to Riad Hikaya for the stay.  As always, the opinions here are my own.

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