I'm not normally one for reviewing the large multi-national hotel chains - the glossy photos on the website usually speak for themselves - but our recent stay at the Riu Tikida Beach Hotel was so excellent, I've decided to make an exception.
The building itself is a whitewashed arrangement of neat stacks, two storeys high in some places, four or five storeys high in others. The balconies and verandas hint at a visual cacophony of floral colour in the summer, but in February, we make do with the few bougainvillea plants in bloom.
The entrance, beyond the airport-style scanner, is a mosaic tiled floor - so far, so Moroccan. Reception sits subtly over to the right, the hotel shop to the far left, while the centre opens up into a light-flooded atrium. An impressive black vase, filled variously with lillies and roses of ever-changing colours during our stay, hogs the spotlight on a circular glass table. The floral offerings add a splash of colour to the reception area. It's not drab, but rather stylishly muted, all browns and greys, African hunting lodge meets old English country house.
The hotel lobby is like a museum, with something different to see every time you walk through. Some of the artefacts are immediately obvious - the life-size chimp sculptures, the plethora of deliciously mismatched lampshades and bases, the wealth of inviting sofas and armchairs, stools and settees, all as comfy as each other. Other items take a bit more teasing out like the historic photos of a Natural History Museum - possibly London, possibly elsewhere - tucked away in an impressive display cabinet.
The highlight though, is the library, a mezzanine-level treasure trove lined with leather bound books, overlooking the piano bar and accessed via a rustic metal spiral staircase. Sadly, the staircase is roped off; these are books to be admired from afar rather than read up close.
The exquisite decor continues throughout the hotel. The main dining room is painted a mushroom grey - dull enough not to offend sleepy eyes over the breakfast table, but a classy enough backdrop for the stylish evening meals. The lunchtime restaurant is a treat of a different kind, with focus drawn unfalteringly to the panoramic view of the beach through the floor-to-ceiling glass.
The food is as expected from an all-inclusive hotel. Seafood features heavily, but if you're not a fish fan (don't worry, I'm not) there are plenty of other options including salads, pastas, soups, tagines and meat joints. Being an adults-only hotel, the usual child-friendly chicken nuggets give way to the more grown-up chicken tagines, but even the fussiest of eaters (again, hello) won't starve. The delicious breakfast pastry selection warrants a special mention, as does the evening dessert chef who missed his calling as an architect:
Aside from the decor, what makes this hotel so memorable are the friendly, welcoming and helpful staff. Everyone, from receptionists and bar staff to cleaners and gardeners, asks how your stay is going - lovely, but no chance of getting anywhere in a hurry when you're stopped every 10 seconds. Bar staff have a knack of remembering everyone's favourite tipple from night to night, and practically have it poured for you before you've even taken a seat.
Location-wise, the hotel is disappointingly a 30-minute walk from the centre of Agadir, and a further 15-20 minutes to the marina. Taxis are readily available and inexpensive (make sure you use one of the orange taxis to avoid being ripped off) but if you enjoy a short stroll of an evening, this may not be the hotel for you.
The beach is right across the promenade from the hotel, with a private area and sun loungers available to hotel guests. In theory, it's gorgeous, golden sand. In reality, the hotel beach is situated right next to a river outlet, meaning that heaps of rubbish, plastic, and goodness-knows-what-else ends up on the sand and in the sea.
The hotel pool is lovely though - the larger of the two is heated, but the highlight is the pool furniture. Sunbeds, wider than you'd find at most hotels, are provided with cushions and pillows, not to mention the mattress beds whittled into the terraces of the hotel's gardens.
The only niggle was the fire alarm's persistence at waking everyone at 6.30am for the first four mornings of our stay, despite us, and several other guests reporting it (it was going off across the whole hotel). The staff's disappointingly laissez-faire attitude to getting it fixed tainted an otherwise excellent holiday.
Hotel Riu Tikida Beach, Agadir. We visited off-season (16-27 February 2017).
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