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I fell into the RIAD NOGA in a clatter of bags and high expectations, and came to rest in a beautiful courtyard. These are the central feature of all riads, a deep well of light and air that runs down through the middle of the house. The rooms all give off the courtyard, their shuttered windows, like their doors, looking inward.

Fountains played between the lemon trees and the potted plants. Bands of mosaic tiles known as zellij decorated walls of tadelekt or polished plaster. Carpets were strewn across the tiled and terracotta floors, and Moorish arches led from the courtyard into inviting recesses where divans were piled high with Berber cushions. The bathrooms evoked the tiled and domed luxuries of the hammam, with baths big enough to be shared. Narrow passageways and stairs led up to a roof terrace with a view over the medina, from the Koutoubia mosque to the high walls of the royal palace, and beyond to the dark outline of the Atlas Mountains.

Once installed in such a house it is not easy to leave. I lounged on the roof terrace enjoying my own bird’s-eye view of the city. I dawdled by the pool. I had lunch in the courtyard, a delicious chicken, seasoned with saffron, lemon and cumin. I browsed in the library. I test-drove the divans, sinking into cushions with a good book. I fell asleep.

Stanley Stewart, “Going Native”, The Sunday Times, London, October 2000,

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