Entranced by the city’s mystery, romance and exoticism. Many weeks were spent looking at riads throughout the medina, seeking places to stay far from the crowd; but still very central. My aim was to transform a riad inspired by my own passions and creativity.
At the end of an unassuming alleyway in the labyrinthine medina, through a heavy cedar wood door, I stepped into the precious remains of an ancient and truly breathtaking riad. It was built around an idyllic courtyard with its palm trees wrapped in lavish bougainvillea.
Dar Jaguar bore no resemblance to the riad hotel that it has become today, but its ‘bones’ were a perfect blend of traditional Moorish and Oriental architecture.
The aim was to create luxury rooms each with their own individual style and charm. I worked with local craftsmen and women to create authentic Moroccan furniture and detailing and combined this with heirlooms and antique ornaments sourced from around the world.
A Moroccan home would not be bone fide without walls of tadlekt. A magnificent coating material named after the craft of “tadlekt” which translates as “to rub in”. A painstakingly skilled craft using lime and olive soap, which is then hand polished with river stones to acquire its waterproof and luxurious appearance. I loved choosing the distinctive vintage colour palette for each room and watching these artists perfect the shades of tadlekt by adding colour, drop by drop. The walls were gloriously glossy and felt undulatingly soft to touch.
Each room has exquisitely engraved plasterwork, crafted by breathtakingly talented artists whose families have been undertaking this intricate work for generations. The sculpture work of the most ancient rooms was restored to perfection and their arches fortified and re-shaped. Although inherited from Roman and Byzantine architecture, the Moroccans established their own sophisticated Islamic arches, which no riad should be without.
With a heady mix of 1001 Nights and the Romantic poets imprinted on my mind, I strew the beds with antique and silk textile cushions. The bedrooms are softly lit with Byzantine inspired, jewel coloured Syrian hanging lamps, for which every bead and crystal was hand chosen.
The bathroom walls, baths and showers are lavished with yet more sumptuous polished tadlekt. Authentic, natural bejmat tiling covers the floors and dual pure copper basins with exquisite hand made brass lights, for me, give the signature seductively Oriental ambience.
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