At AnaYela, in Marrakesh, Morocco, you do not check in at all. At least not in North Africa. Instead, check-in is handled long-distance, before guests arrive in Marrakesh. They are transported by SUV from Menara International Airport to the ramparts of the medina, from which it is a five-minute walk to the five-room hotel. The owners, former Berliners Andrea and Bernd Kolb, designed the hotel in collaboration with Yannick Hervy, and it opened in 2008 after a yearlong renovation. Local artisans did all the work on the 200-year-old riad by hand—from the architecture and pool to the furniture and flatware.
The Kolbs greet their guests not with desks, forms, and credit-card swipes, but with milk and dates, a traditional Moroccan welcome. “It would disrupt the process of giving our guests the opportunity to dive in to Marrakesh,” says Andrea when asked about conventional check-in procedures. Which is not to say that the Kolbs don’t recognize the importance of the moment of arrival, whether understated or formal or efficiently technological, just that it’s evolving. In this case, at AnaYela, the idea is to offer the most authentic Moroccan experience possible, from the moment guests step out of the SUV into the throbbing medina and make their way to the front door.