If you are going to Marrakech anytime soon, you have to stay in a riad! A quintessential Moroccan experience that’s unlike any hotel, bed and breakfast, or AirBNB I’ve ever stayed at. Marrakech riads are often historical buildings that have been renovated to become boutique hotels.
I’m having a hard time explaining how it works. Staying in a riad is like a cross between staying in a bed and breakfast, a spa, and a villa. Riads are also fairly cheap for the incredible rooms and service that you get. They are often tucked away down hidden alleys, and feel like a secret treat to come back to every night.
Many riads are the former homes of merchants or traders, and are lavishly decorated with tiles, cushions, rooftop lounges, fountains, and courtyards with open roofs. Many are even hundreds of years old and feature original Zellige (Islamic geometric) mosaic tiling and tadelakt (waterproof carved plasted). For the best experience, choose a riad close to the medina so you can relax after a long day of haggling and exploring. I have fond memories of lying outside on the rooftop patios, staring at the stars, and listening to the Berber drums playing from Jemaa el-Fnaa late into the morning hours.
This amazing riad dates back to the 15th century and features original zellige and tadelakt and wood carvings. It has a beautiful terrace from which you can see the Koutoubia mosque and a panorama of Marrakech. The riad even has a cigar bar restaraunt where you can sample different cigars during your meal.
Riad Karmela Princesse
Located in the Medina, this luxury riad is within a 10-minute walk of Shrob ou Shouf Fountain, Marrakesh Museum, and Almoravid Koubba. Jamaa el Fna and Ben Youssef Mosque are also within 15 minutes.
This is a riad-style hotel in an art-deco style, with rooms based on famous artists such as Mondrian, Rousseau, and Rodchenko.
Itrane means star in the Berber (Moroccan tribespeople) language, and this traditional riad features lovely pools, panoramic terraces, solariums, and a hammam spa.
Ryad Art Place Marrakech
This contemporary art-themed riad is centrally located, in walking distance from the Saadian tombs and the Bahia Palace.
This riad is in an 18th-century building decorated in an entirely historical style with carved wood, plaster, and zellige tiles. Each room includes a fireplace!
Royal Mansour Marrakech
From the Royal Mansour website:
Inspired by North Africa, Spain as well as Portugal’s traditional Moorish architecture, the Royal Mansour Marrakech hotel design showcases symmetry entwined with classical forms. As for the interior, it is a pure celebration of the diversity and virtuosity of master craftsmen from the Kingdom, with lace embedded plaster, carved ceilings, floors and walls, where Tadelakt and Zelliges take turns in the spotlight.
El Fenn is an art themed riad right around the corner from the main square at Djemma El Fna. The rooms and suites feature art, furniture, and photography from the owner’s personal collection.
From the Riad Honey website:
To stay at the Riad Honey is to reside in authentically oriental surroundings. After all, a great deal of tender care and sensitivity has gone into designing the interiors of the rooms so that they reflect a traditional way of life.
Riad Les Yeux Bleus
This riad was recently renovated by a team of talented Marrakech artisans under the direction of interior designer Willem Smit. It includes two patios; two pools, a library, a full spa including massage and hammam, and a roof terrace with a bar.
Riad Jardin Secret
Riad Jardin Secret bring a bohemian attitude to their accommodations.
From the website:
Riad Jardin Secret has a laid-back atmosphere. The organic forms and simple design reflect a sense of Moroccan history, inspired in the “anti-modern” way of life.
We define “anti-modern” as the embracing of imperfection created by the tear of time. Dedicated to the authenticity and the unpretentious, the mystery of its past with the strong artistic personality of its present.
Le Maison Arabe
Le Maison Arabe started the whole trend of renovating old riads into boutique hotels. The restaurant has been around the since 40s, and the renovation of the riad started in 1998 and was partially responsible for the chic restyling of Marrakech riads as luxury hotels.
Riad Yasmine is an affordable choice if you’d like to stay in a traditional riad, but it doesn’t sacrifice on style or friendliness.
Definitely take advantage of any kind of airport transfer a riad offers, especially if it’s near the medina. They often include baggage transportation as well as the essential guide through the medina and/or souks, as when you first enter the old city of Marrakech it is quite overwhelming. Marrakech riads are a great respite from a crazy day haggling and getting lost in the souks.
I also recommend hiring a guide from the riad to help you navigate the souks, it’s usually quite affordable and you will inevitably get lost without one. I wrote a guide with a map to the souks if you are interested in trying to navigate yourself.
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