If you are planning a trip to Morocco, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture is certainly to sleep in a Riad.
This term literally means "gardens" in Arabic and stands for a particular type of traditional home which is located within the Medina of many Moroccan cities.
Today, many of these buildings have been restored to accommodate tourists visiting Morocco.
In this post I will accompany you to discover these fascinating places by giving you a series of tips for sleeping in a Riad in Morocco helping you choose the right one for you.
Related articles: Where to sleep in Marrakech, best areas and riads
What is a Riad?
As I mentioned, the Moroccan riad is the traditional dwelling which is found in the urban centers of Morocco.
The term literally translates as "gardens", but it is curious to know that the word Riyāḍ also indicates "recreation" and "leisure".
You may be wondering why this name for a residential building. It's simple, the house is built around one or more internal courtyards.
Historically the Riads suffered two great influences. First of all, it was the great Roman domus that inspired them, but subsequently the most important weight in the evolution of this type of house was Arab - Andalusian and materialized above all with the Almoravid dynasty, those who managed to unite Islamic Spain and Morocco in one empire.
Today most of the Riads have been transformed into accommodation facilities ready to welcome those tourists who prefer a traditional house to the classic hotel.
Characteristics of a Moroccan Riad
Ma what makes a Moroccan Riad truly distinctive? Here are, in my opinion, the 3 features that make it unique.
The Riad is built around a courtyard, where there is generally a fountain and some plants.
Le walls are richly decorated with majolica and mosaic decorations, which makes the rooms real jewels. The rooms are often furnished with colorful fabrics and traditional objects.
The upper part of the Riad is open and only rarely covered by a glass or awning: this makes the rooms cool in summer, but not completely warm in winter.
All Riyadh they have no windows to the outside, but only overlooking the courtyard: this is to preserve the intimacy of the family and the women who lived inside. Even today, entering a Riad gives a sense of peace and secrecy.
Riads generally have one Terrace from which to enjoy an excellent view over the roofs of the Medina: it is often here that you can dine with typical Moroccan dishes.
The Riads are located inside the Medina, among the narrow and lively alleys of Moroccan cities. Choose the location well to move easily during your stay.
Being traditional houses their presence in the Medina alone makes these structures unique and unrepeatable!
The relationship with the staff
The structure of the Riads, being that of a traditional house, is not huge. For this reason, despite the discretion of the staff, it will be easy, if desired, to establish a relationship with the staff and with the owner and feel a little like home.
What services does a Riad offer?
Each Riad is different from the other: there are luxury ones and those run by a family business. It cannot be said that they differ in category like hotels, but looking at the photos and taking a look at the services you can get an idea of the offer and comfort of each individual Riad.
Below I list some of the services offered by some companies: they will also help you evaluate the amount you decide to spend for your stay.
The swimming pool. Some establishments offer a swimming pool, but don't imagine huge pools: the spaces inside the riads are limited. However, the swimming pool is an excellent opportunity to cool off from the summer heat after a walk in the Medina.
THEhammam. THE'hammam it has very ancient origins, it is a way to relax and it is an excellent activity to get in touch more deeply with the local culture. If the Riad you choose has a hammam, don't miss the opportunity to have this experience.
Maybe it might interest you: the best hammams in Marrakech
The restaurant. Some Riads have a restaurant and, in case dinner is served on the splendid terrace, I recommend that you stop at least once to enjoy a Thousand and One Nights dinner!
The tour desk. Many Riads offer the possibility of booking excursions directly on site. In this way you will have the guarantee of having an interlocutor for any type of problem you may encounter.
Car rental. If you prefer to move freely you may need to rent a car. Again, if you rent through the hotel it will be easier to have an interlocutor in case of problems.
Transfer from / to the airport. If the Riad has a transfer service from / to the airport you will not have to worry about looking for a taxi once there, nor about having to have cash right away to catch the bus.
Why sleep in a Moroccan Riad
Choosing to sleep in a Riad means to be able to live a truly unique experience. Below I briefly list the 4 reasons why, in my opinion, it is really worth it.
Helps immerse yourself in the local culture
When traveling it is beautiful being able to immerse yourself completely in the atmosphere of a place and experience the culture of a place at 360 °.
Sleeping in a Riad means sleeping in a traditional house, experiencing the Medina (the historic center) from morning to night, experiencing the typical and warm hospitality of the Moroccan people, be overwhelmed by the colors of the fabrics, the flavors of the typical cuisine and the scents of spices that permeate every corner.
It is located in the Medina
As I told you, Riads are generally found in the Medina, in the historic center of the city. The Riads are right there where everyday life takes place authentically and this will allow you to be in close contact with the locals.
If you choose a hotel that is a little on the outskirts, you risk losing the beauty of the comings and goings of people and living a truly inclusive experience.
It is a romantic experience
It probably goes without saying, but sleeping in a Riad means live a "Thousand and One Nights" experience. The fabrics, the carpets, their colors, the finely carved furniture and the majolica tiles with a thousand shades make these buildings special and romantic.
You will not easily forget the nights spent inside these typical houses, especially if you choose one of the many Riads with a terrace: in the evening it will be wonderful to lose yourself looking at the sky or observing life in the Medina.
Satisfy the pockets of all travelers
In Morocco there are riads for all budgets: from luxury ones to more informal and economic solutions.
Depending on the services included and the types of rooms you can decide to live a luxurious night or choose to "settle" for a smaller, family-run reality, where you can stay in close contact with the owners, establishing a relationship with them and take advantage of advice on what to see and what to eat in the surrounding area.
Where to find a Riad in Marrakech
Also in Marrakech most riads are located in Medina, that is, the historic center of the city.
The Medina of what is one of the largest cities in Morocco, as you can imagine, is very large.
The old city of Marrakech was built by the Almoravid dynasty and was surrounded by walls in 1126.
Today, as then, its center is the square Djemaa el Fna.
South of this bustling and lively square are some very nice Riads. The pro of choosing this area is the proximity to the center of the Medina and to Avenue Mohamed V, the street where you can find some taxis to haggle with to move outside the city.
Another area to consider is the surroundings of the Bab Doukkala Mosque. This area is much less touristy, just walk out the door Bab Doukkala to find yourself immersed in the liveliness of the typical Arab city atmosphere.
Right outside the door you will find the typical city taxis if you need to move from the center. Here they arise some of the best and most beautiful riads in all of Marrakech.
How to choose a Riad in Marrakech
If you intend to choose this structure for your next stay in the "red city", I want to suggest you briefly how to choose a Riad in Marrakech.
Choose a Riad in the Medina: evaluate the best area of the Medina, check the proximity to the main places of interest in the city and the restaurants, carefully check the address so as not to get lost in the alleys and alleys of the historic center.
View Photos: do a thorough search and look at the photos of the Riad and its rooms so you don't have any nasty surprises.
Evaluate the services: to choose the right Riad in Marrakech for you, carefully evaluate the services offered by the structure to be sure that your holiday is perfect.
Pros and cons of sleeping in a Riad
Finally I want to briefly list the pros and cons of sleeping in a Riad, so that you can have all the necessary information before making your reservation.
- Location in the center;
- Cheap prices for the quality / price ratio;
- A Thousand and One Nights Atmosphere.
- Difficulty of parking if you decide to rent a car;
- The Riads they generally do not have a lift (in case of walking problems it can be a problem);
- They are generally more expensive than hotels.
I hope my advice will be useful to you if you decide to sleep in a Moroccan Riad!
Some advice on the Best Riads in Morocco
The best riads in Marrakech
Marrakech is a must-see city for any traveler visiting Morocco and regardless of everything, you will be truly happy with your trip.
Staying in a Riad will only improve your trip even more.
Below are two Riad to Marrakech which are definitely worth a look (they are among the best in town)
Riad Boussa: close to the famous Jemma El Fna square in Marrakech, the Riad Boussa is a fabulous 3-star Riad offering rooms decorated in a Moroccan style in warm colors, a terrace and a lounge. A peaceful corner in which to rest after a day in the middle of the lively city.
Riad Le Clos Des Arts: I love this place, built with the idea of giving a peaceful escape to travelers and artists who visited Marrakech. It offers a terrace overlooking the Medina, an outdoor swimming pool, free wi-fi and elegant rooms.
Riad Tajania: probably the most famous Riad in Marrakech, it offers luxury rooms all with patio and views of the indoor swimming pool. Just 300 meters from Djemaa El Fna Square, Riad Tajana is in one of the best locations to visit Marrakech.
The best Riad in Fes
Fes is the spiritual capital of Morocco and is a fantastic place to see the authentic daily life of Moroccans. Fes is also the city with the largest Medina in Morocco and here the Riads are wasted, it will be difficult to choose one.
Below you will find the ones that I think deserve the most.
Riad Myra: this 4-star Riad is located right in the heart of the Medina. It boasts an elegant interior, with the Fez blue color dominating the furnishings and rooms. The terrace overlooking the beautiful city of Fes offers unforgettable moments. Breakfast is served right on the terrace and is truly amazing!
Riad Fes: this 5-star Riad is perfect for those who wish to experience the ultimate in luxury. The Riad Fes includes a swimming pool, a wellness center, a delightful restaurant and offers cooking classes. The design and its architecture are incredible.
The best riads in Essaouira
Essaouira It is the perfect seaside town to visit in one day from Marrakech, but it would be worth spending at least two days there: it is a city full of blue and white and its peaceful atmosphere reflects the natural beauty of the Atlantic Ocean.
Riad Mimouna: this beautiful Riad is located right on the ocean and you can fall asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks. The rooms are large, spacious, all furnished in a different way, in perfect Moroccan style. It is truly a "haven of peace".
Riad Chbanate: a splendid Riad close to the walls boasting a terrace and an exceptional panorama over the Medina. The rooms, elegantly furnished in Moroccan style, boast air conditioning and also a fireplace.
Riad Dar Maya: a luxurious and a little more modern Riad decorated in cream colors and warm earthy colors. It has a terrace with a rooftop jacuzzi, a library and you will be greeted with Moroccan drinks and sweets.