You don’t often play tourist in your own city, but with so many people asking me where they should stay for their visit to Marrakech I realized I needed to do some research. This is the thing about riads. Outside the streets can be loud, dusty, dirty even but once you go through the doors you’ll be completely shocked at what you see. Not sure what a riad is? This is the name for a traditional style Moroccan house. One thing is constant, they have large, open courtyards with interior rooms on multiple levels. The style is still used in Marrakech and Fez though has gone out of fashion in many others parts of Morocco.
From the outside, almost every riad looks the same. The doors might be different. The walls may be shorter or taller and of course the neighborhoods vary. But from the outside there’s no way of knowing what you’ll find inside. It could be a lush green garden surrounded be heavy tapestries and ornate rugs. Or maybe trellises of flowers reaching to the roof. Or, you may be completely surprised and find white and silver modern designs welcoming you.
There are different kinds of riads in Morocco. There are different types of riads. Some you must rent the entire home for a specific time. This is a great choice for large families or groups of friends traveling together. In many cases you may have some sticker shock over the initial price but once you divided it out you'll discover it's really quite affordable in comparison to renting a hotel room or room in other riads.
A second choice is a riad that has private rooms mixed with apartment style spaces. This is an excellent choice for families as there is plenty of room for everyone without being crammed into a teeny, tiny room.
A third choice is a more typical bed and breakfast style room. Some riads in Marrakech allow all ages, while others do not allow children at all, and lastly some that set an age minimum on children's ages. You'll want to double check to make sure there's no surprises when you arrive.
Breakfast is almost always included as part of your stay and you'll find some of the very best meals you'll eat in Marrakech served in riads. This is because the women who are employed to work in the kitchens prepare meals in the way they would at home. Very good, homemade Moroccan cuisine. If you can't get an invitation to someone's home, this is a great way to experience authentic Moroccan cuisine.
Many riads also include an on-site hammam or work with local hammams. You can experience a traditional Moroccan bath and scrub in any number across the city. But, if your riad has their own on-site, go for that option!
In Marrakech there are nearly 1,000 riads at all different price levels. A few of my favorites include;
…and that's just the tip of the iceberg!
Staying in a riad is a wonderful way to experience the Marrakech of days gone by, and to escape the chaotic streets below. You might not want to ever leave!