You can’t visit Marrakech without staying in a riad. It’s a simple truth. Don’t argue with me, don’t get distracted by the glitz coming from the Palmerie hotels, and definiltely don’t think about staying in an out of town resort. If you do, I’m afraid we can no longer be friends. Trust me on this, once you’ve tried a riad, there’s no going back.
With hundreds of riads to choose from it can be a minefield to the uninitiated (and even those who have been before), so I’ve put together a handy little guide on how to pick the best riad for you. You can thank me later. Believe me, there’s a lot to consider beyond just the colour of the bedspread!
Once you have a vague idea of what you’re after, it’s time for that most enjoyable of past-times…to whittle down your list from 150 to just 1! To make it a little easier, I’ll let you into one of my secrets…8 of them in fact! Below are some of my favourite Marrakech riads, covering a range of prices and all chosen for their style, character and top notch service.
Marrakech riads to die for…
In a city where riad hospitality is generally exemplary, Riad Camilia is surely the best of them all! We’ve graced many a riad with our presence over the last few years as we’re all about new experiences and rarely stay in the same place twice, yet something tells me Riad Camilia may be the one to break that tradition. Overlooked by us on previous visits as it is priced at the top end of our budget, we decided to give it a go on a last minute May weekend trip (yeah, we went to North Africa for a weekend!!), and boy we certainly weren’t disappointed. Everything about the experience was top notch and worth every extra penny.
The style is contemporary calm mixed with Moroccan artifact and works really well. It’s a beautiful space and the photos on the website (and even our own!) do not do it justice. The riad is ENORMOUS. The huge public spaces and just 6 rooms means there is always somewhere private to settle down and read your book or enjoy dinner. The roof terrace has lots of really comfy corners, and a couple of dipping pools, perfect to cool off on a hot day along with some mint tea.
We had the immense pleasure of staying in Suite 6, the biggest room we’ve ever experienced in Marrakech. The lounge area alone was larger than most other riad bedrooms, and with a walk-in-wardrobe, TV, library and open fire for winter it was a space we happily spent time resting from the chaos of the city outside.
Along with suite 5, our room was located in the newer part of the building up a private little stairway. I thought I’d miss having a traditional room off the main courtyard that is so iconic in riad life, yet after a couple of the best sleeps we’ve ever had in the city, we soon realised it was in fact a bonus not being disturbed by the comings and goings in the rest of the house.
The food is delicious, and the staff are just wonderful, probably the best we’ve experienced in Marrakech. They are always one step ahead, anticipating your needs before you even know them yourself. And manager Nicolas is the perfect host, never seems to sleep as he’s always on hand with suggestions of what to do, and there to help if you need it. I can’t speak highly enough of both him and the rest of the staff. I had a problem opening my suitcase lock when we arrived late in the evening, which was a bit stressful as it had all my valuables and more importantly underwear (!) in…not a problem for Nicolas, who seconds later appeared with some pliers and at our request managed to break the lock for us, phew. What a star!
The riad is easy to reach by taxi, and someone will come to meet you to walk the short distance (a porter will take your luggage) to the door. It was also simple to navigate down to the square and souks, and it’s very close to Ben Youssef Medersa and also Le Fondouk restaurant. Great location.
We will be back!! Inshalla.
I think Riad Cinnamon wins for simply beautiful room design. It boasts lavish suites from the more traditional in design, to the tastefully modern with a ‘dash of zen’ Casablanca Suite. Several have their own mezzanine area with snugs and TV spaces, and bathrooms are elegantly huge with cosy bathrobes and slippers.
We stayed in the sumptuous Meknes suite, one of the most gorgeous rooms we’ve seen in Marrakech, very colourful yet calm. Service was top notch, with great food served up on the roof terrace or the patio below. The riad has a really lovely tranquil ambience and is somewhere you will want to spend time rather than hot-footing it out into the city.
This striking riad nestled in the Mellah area (Old Jewish Quarter) has 7 individually designed luxurious rooms and suites and top notch personal service. Carefully styled furnishings unite traditional Moroccan artefact with contemporary comfort, and it’s certainly no hardship to have to stay for a minimum of 3 nights. Rooms are all generously proportioned and elegantly comfortable. We stayed in the Almohad suite, an adventure in itself with exotic art, fabulous view of the entire length of the riad, and a fun secret little wooden door-within-a-door leading to the bathroom. There are complimentary djellabas and babouches to wear around the riad, which are available to purchase in the little shop. Which we did.
Riad Assakina boasts one of the loveliest roof terraces we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying, with another dipping pool and lots of shady spots to while away a hot afternoon. Owner Michelle is very helpful and sits down with guests when they arrive armed with a map and lots of suggestions of places to visit.
Delicious food, stylish interiors and a tranquil ambience make this one of our favourite mid-high end riads.
Sister riad to Cinnamon, this gorgeous turquoise themed riad is located in a traditional and easy-to-navigate location in the Mouassine district. The small but tasteful rooms have very romantic bathrooms, and the whole riad has touches of the traditional mingled with the modern.
We stayed in the Bougainvillea room, which is cosy yet perfectly formed, and one of the best tadelakt bathrooms we’ve seen. The photos don’t do it justice. The riad staff are brilliant, and they even give you a mobile phone to call them if you get lost in the souks (they will come and find you no matter where you are!!). That’s the boring option of course, getting lost is all part of the fun, but several other first-time guests used this and thought it wonderful.
The food is excellent, and service was up to the standards we’ve come to expect. We’d definitely stay here again, and the prices are quite realistic, with frequent discounts on their website.
Riad Mur Akush
Here we opted for the incredibly romantic Suite d’Olive, which boasts yet another amazing bathroom and a four poster bed to die for (it was very comfortable as well as looking gorgeous). This is the stuff of 1001 nights!
A little lounge area gives this suite ample space in which to settle in for a few days, with seductive lighting for a sensual ambience. Again, great staff and wonderful food, couldn’t fault any part of our stay. They also often have room discounts on their website so it is a good idea to book direct, and we were also given a discount for booking several nights so its always worth asking what is available.
Dar Mouassine was undergoing some maintenance work when we arrived – they were rebuilding part of the roof terrace so the tranquility was a bit disrupted. However it’s important to realise that maintaining a Marrakech riad is a year round commitment, and due to the nature of the buildings, as soon as one job is finished, another one starts. Dar Mouassine is run by a couple of amenable French guys (speaking a little English), and the atmosphere is very relaxed. Possibly a little too relaxed at times as the place was often deserted. We stayed in Suite Cardamone, a vast room, about 3 times the size of rooms in most other riads, with a novel bathroom up hidden stairs. It’s great fun, and very romantic. Definitely one of my favourite Marrakech rooms. The only slight oddity was that several of the common room areas (like the salon) were in constant darkness so it wasn’t clear whether or not they were for guest use (other riads are always well lit and welcoming with all their spaces). The food was delicious, and it was the first time we experienced a kefta tagine – glorious – it was a nice change from the usual lamb!
One of my favourite features was the dipping pool – on the ground floor but tucked away down a little passage so totally private and a lovely space to sit and dangle your toes whilst looking up at the sky. Dipping pools and privacy are not usually two things that go together in most riads, unfortunately! So this was heaven. It’s also deep enough to actually get fully in, a refreshing activity for a hot afternoon.
A smaller, more ‘rustic’ riad, but still beautifully decorated, and really good value for money. Great location too. We enjoyed the traditional room Safran on the first floor, which had everything we needed, and were served with a lovely romantic dinner in their terrace tent, complete with rose petals on the table. They have equally good sister riads, all with very different styles – check out their website to explore Riad Viva and Riad Diana. The staff were very helpful and friendly despite the language barrier, and we felt very comfortable and relaxed.
The very first riad we stayed in and where we retreated after being traumatised by our first souk carpet haggling experience. The only downside is that it’s a bit further out than the others (about 15 mins walk to the main square) and rather difficult to navigate on your first visit. On the other hand, it’s definitely the ‘real’ local side of the the city, and will always hold a special place in our hearts as it was our first! The food here is glorious, and possibly the best aubergine salad and lamb tagine ever! A tranquil, tasty and authentic stay.
Thanks for the suggestions..! I stayed at Riad no. 38, just off the Djemaa El Fna – the rooms were simple and the courtyard gorgeous. Service was ok 🙂
I had no doubt before that this would be the right accommodation for us and after reading your post I am sure. I “run away” (who am I kidding I don’t run at all…) from resorts and hotels and the sorts. What can I say I’m picky! 🙂
Great overview of the riads. I’d love to stay at any one of these.
I love it! The room design is just for my taste – mot too many things but stylish at the same time. And lamb tagine sounds amazing…Would love to stay for sure 🙂