If you are planning a luxury Morocco tour, one of the things you’ll really want to consider is where to stay. My suggestion? Choose riads over hotels. But what is a riad? Why is staying in a riad better than staying in a hotel? And what are some of the best riads in Morocco? Read on to find out.
What is a Riad?
Essentially, a riad is a Moroccan house, but a very specific kind of house.
Riad comes from the Arabic word for ‘garden’ and as such, a traditional riad is built around a courtyard or a garden. The gardens are usually very manicured and often include fountains. Some riads, particularly the luxury riads, also have on-site swimming pools and even private hammams for their guests.
Another interesting and unique aspect of a riad compared to a traditional hotel is that there are no exterior windows. The windows in a riad all look inwards towards the garden or the courtyard. This reflects the importance of privacy in the Islamic culture, but also has the added benefit of keeping the air cool, which is a huge perk given the heat of Morocco’s temperatures.
Where Can I Find Riads in Morocco?
Riads can be found across Morocco’s cities, especially the bigger cities such as Marrakech and Fez. Due to the fact that they are unique and allow visitors to experience a part of the Moroccan culture, they are a very popular accommodation choice.
It should also be noted that while typically Riads are seen as higher end accommodation options, they do in fact exist for all types of budgets. Yes, there are many five-star riads but there are some budget friendly hostel-type riads as well. Again, the term riad is used to describe the building itself, not the type of service it provides.
Since riads tend to be older historic buildings, most of them are located in the heart of the city. This is great for playing tourist and site-seeing, but it can make them a little tricky to find as taxis sometimes cannot get down the narrow streets. Keep this in mind when booking and ask if someone can come meet you and help you with your luggage on arrival (if you are booking a Morocco private guided tour, this won’t be a problem as you will have a guide). Check out our guide on how to spend 10 days on private Morocco tour here.
What to Expect in a Riad?
Riads are different from hotels in more than just their looks. Since riad hotels were once traditional houses, they are a lot smaller than most hotels. Think of them as a boutique hotel, with about 10-30 rooms instead of a couple of hundred.
Each room is individually decorated to reflect Moroccan culture which only adds to the experience. Expect colourful textiles, beautiful tile work, hanging lanterns etc. Of course, despite being historic, riads do have most modern amenities including wifi. Most riads will include a full Moroccan breakfast in the price and some offer additional dining options such as special dinners cooked on site.
The Best Riads in Morocco
As mentioned above, you can find riads across Morocco. However, if you are planning a Morocco luxury tour then these high-end riads are definitely worth considering.
Best Riads in Marrakech
El Fenn, Marrakech
With 28 rooms, three swimming pools, a restaurant, a bar, and a spa, there’s no doubt that El Fenn is one of the top picks when it comes to luxury riads in Marrakech. The interior of this beautiful riad is bright, colourful, and airy with tree-filled courtyards and a large rooftop terrace. It’s the perfect quiet escape you need after exploring the bustling city
Royal Mansour, Marrakech
The Royal Mansour is a bit different than a typical Moroccan riad. It’s almost a mini-resort in that the estate houses several riads making it a bigger luxury accommodation property. The grounds here are truly stunning with exotic gardens, restaurants, a hammam, pools, and 53 unique and private riads. The Royal Mansour truly is one of a kind.
La Maison Arabe
Dating back to 1946, this 32 room Riad has had a reputation for one of the most elegant and luxurious riads in Morocco for years. There are three restaurants on-site as well as a jazz bar, a famous cooking school (which is open to hotel guests), and a traditional hammam spa. The grounds also have beautiful gardens as well as a heated outdoor pool. All rooms feature traditional Moroccan designs and modern amenities.
Best Riads in Fez
Dar Roumana, Fez
Dar Roumana is a casual and relaxed luxury riad located by the Medina walls. Rooms are spacious featuring the work of Moroccan craftsmen and there is a beautiful rooftop terrace offering beautiful views over the Medina. The onsite restaurant serves up plates to reflect the seasons and has been written up and recommended by both the New York Times as well as Conde Nast Traveler. If you are looking for a modern and peaceful Riad in Fez, consider Dar Roumana.
Riad Laaroussa is a 17th century palace located in the heart of the Fez medina. Individual rooms are set around an airy courtyard decorated with orange trees and a swimming pool. There is a traditional hammam spa on the property as well as a spacious terrace offering lounging areas and views over Fez. It’s known for its tranquil relaxing atmosphere which many travelers love after spending a busy day exploring the city.
Riad Salam is also located in the centre of the Fez medina. The top amenities here include a panoramic terrace, hammam spa, on-site restaurant, and swimming pools. Each room has its own balcony and is decorated in a simple but elegant manner. The Riad Salam is close to many of Fes’s top attractions including the Blue Gate and the Medersa Bou-Inania making it an ideal base from which to explore this ancient city.
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