Hostel Riad Mama Marrakech

Hostel Riad Mama Marrakech opened its doors this past summer and their first guest had booked for a few days, but stayed for a month using the new riad-hostel as literally his “home” base as he continued his travels around Morocco. The young hostel riad was something dreamed up by Crystal Emerald Green and her Moroccan fiancé, Youssef. Around the same time I was branding Prêt à Voyager into a design and communications consultancy for a branding practicum at the American University of Paris, she was doing the same thing for her riad for as her own project (ironically we both traveled to Morocco for the first time during the same break – she met her future husband, I did not). I’m so proud of Crystal and Youssef who have put countless time and energy into this labor of love to make it a reality – welcoming guests from around the globe – so I wanted to “sit down” with Crystal and get the full scoop on this new riad that aims to help travelers experience Morocco in a new way.
AD: What is a riad? What inspired you to open one?
CG: Riads are old Moroccan homes that are turned into boutique hotels here in the beautiful country of Morocco. What makes our place different is that we dreamed to have a place where travelers could experience Morocco, Marrakech in particular in a way that was full of color, warmth, music and the type of place that would make our clients feel as if they were with friends or as comfortable as they would be at home with family.

Actually, it was not my idea to open a riad at all. My fiancé Youssef, whose background has been working in the hospitality industry in Marrakech for many years was inspired by his dreams to open this riad. He has experience in Riad management working in places that are somewhat similar to ours. [ed note: Crystal studied and worked in the fashion design department at Pratt Institute College of Art and Design before making her way to Paris to study Global Communications to help talented artists and designers to make a living from their own passions and dreams]. Youssef wanted to show them the social beauty of life here in Marrakech that is different than what they would experience in the hustle and bustle of life outside the Riad, giving them a small piece of our real life here.

Our Riad starts out being different because it is a Hostel Riad, not exactly like other Riads. Our clients are adults who may want to experience something different than a regular Hotel experience. Sometimes in hotels, it is not as easy to meet new people. Our place is set up so that you can really get to know the wonderful guests who stay with us. Often times, people who come to us from all the far corners of the world are able to meet, become fast friends and travel around Morocco together through our own excursion trips to other cities like Essaouira, the Sahara Desert or even on their own. We have even seen cases of people meeting here and traveling to other countries together or staying at one another’s homes when they leave us because they form friendships and become like family after living here at Mama Marrakech. We have lots of great common areas that help make these kinds of experiences possible. For this reason, many people have no problem traveling to Marrakech alone to stay at Mama’s.
How did you choose the location?
We looked at many places but decided we wanted to be close to everything that Marrakech has to offer. Our hostel is 5-8 minutes walking to the famous Mosque Koutoubia, Place Jemma el Fna and the marvelous shopping of the Souks (the traditional Moroccan markets). We also wanted to be walking distance to Nouvelle Ville (New City) where modern nightlife, shopping, beautiful restaurants can be experienced. Once we saw that everything our clients may want to see and do was in walking distance we knew it was the right location for us.

Who is your ideal traveler/guest?
Our ideal traveler is someone who is friendly, open to new experiences and people. Someone who does not come to Marrakech expecting that their time here would be like any other experience in his or her own lives. Potential clients who love music legends like Bob Marley and open to listening to new music traditional of Morocco like Gnawa or Arabic music and the music played by our guests who want to share the music of their countries. We have heard in our Hostel Trance Music played by a Serbian DJ, Brazilian music shared by a wonderful family who loved music and dancing as much as we do, Reggae, all types of Spanish music, German, French Hip Hop… you name it!
In your opinion, what is the biggest draw to Marrakesh for someone who has never been?
The people. The Moroccans who live here in Marrakech open their doors to tourists from all over the world everyday. Marrakech is full of hospitality, energy, exoticism, tradition, modernity and inspiring color. It is the beautiful artistry of its people that make all that is spectacular here worth the experience. There is something special here that people often say is a once in a lifetime journey to make and I feel that people will really enjoy the adventure. [One of the biggest surprises has been] how many guests we have had from all over the world. One would expect to receive guests from European countries like England, France, Portugal and Spain but we have also had guests from Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia, as well as clients coming from America, Brazil and Mexico.

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p.s. That’s Crystal and Youssef in the bottom left photo!

{images courtesy Hostel Riad Mama Marrakech}

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