Yes, you heard right, it’s not only Hotel Costes and other design hotels that are hip to the fact that music is an important part of travel, our experience of a place, and the memories we take away. Don’t well all have songs we love that, the moment they come on, immediately transport us back to a place we’ve travelled to?
Music is essential to Lara and I when we travel, especially when we’re transforming a holiday rental into a ‘home’ for a month or so. The first two things we usually do when we arrive at a new place are light up our favourite incense and plug in the AirPort Express to a stereo so we can play our own music from our laptop libraries.
One of the first things we noticed about Dar Rocmarra, the HomeAway riad we’ve been staying at in Marrakech, was the music’s Moroccan mix. It’s on for most of the day, from breakfast until everyone’s in bed, and magically it seems to match the mood of the guests while creating a really wonderful and unique ambiance.
One of the riad owners, Rob, who was in town this week, is responsible for the Dar Rocmarra soundtrack. And it turns out the perfectly-pitched soundtrack is not an accident.
“Everyone comments on the music,” Rob tells us. “Essentially, we wanted to have different music for different times of the day, so I created different playlists and told the staff when to play them.” There is ‘Dar Rocmarra Classical’ for breakfast, ‘Dar Rocmarra Chill’, ‘Dar Rocmarra Jazz’ and ‘Dar Rocmarra Mix’ which can be played throughout the day, and ‘Dar Rocmarra Uptempo’ for when guests are dining or having drinks.
Rob says he’s constantly searching for music he thinks will suit the riad. “I’m always going into music shops and looking in the Arabic section for stuff.” Then he updates the playlists on his iPod at home in the UK, and when he visits swaps his iPod Touch with the one here at the riad. “I really just wanted to provide the types of music I would want to listen to if I was staying in a riad,” Rob says. “It’s not off the shelf, it’s very personal, and it’s constantly evolving.”
It’s one of the most eclectic soundtracks we’ve ever heard – for instance, searching the iPod under the letter ‘N’ reveals artists including Natacha Atlas, Nick Drake, The National, Neil Young, and Nina Simone. All artists we personally have affection for.
“My favourite? Probably Harold Bud and Brian Eno,” Rob says, “Because it can be played at any time and is really relaxing.”
Here’s a selection of the best of the riad’s playlist, including a couple of Rob’s favourites plus the ones we loved which will forever be associated with our stay at Dar Rocmarra. Check them out at your favourite online music store:
Adam’s Lullaby – Natacha Atlas
Endless Festival – Anne Dudley and Jaz Coleman
Beawi che Tourneur – Khaled
Baba Çay – Manci
Id Chab – Mariem Hassan