Why you need to ditch the Villa for a Riad
Unique to this part of the world, staying in a riad affords you the opportunity to live alongside the locals and experience an ancient way of life first hand.
Find four boutique hotels here in the old town Medina of Marrakech!
The riads have been painstakingly restored working with traditional materials and craftsmen while incorporating conveniences like air conditioning and fast Wifi. These old traditional ‘riad’ – meaning garden in Arabic – houses are set within the walls of the mediaeval city of Marrakech, providing atmospheric and intimate spaces with all rooms looking onto the cool and shady central courtyard. Unique to this part of the world, staying in a riad affords the opportunity to live alongside the locals and experience an ancient way of life first hand. From romantic escapes to relaxing family breaks and group get-togethers, the four stylish houses offer the perfect retreat in Morocco’s captivating imperial city.
Riad Star is the former home of vaudeville star, singer and actress, hero of the French resistance and civil rights pioneer, Josephine Baker. The property offers thirteen guest rooms, and a host of facilities including a hammam and massage suite, dipping pool and fabulous roof terrace as well as a dedicated kitchen demonstration space for cookery lessons and large courtyard with rolling roof. Rooms cost from £112 per night.
Riad Cinnamon is a former merchant’s house located in a quiet residential area in the heart of the old town, just two minutes from the Marrakech Museum and ten minutes from the main square. The property sleeps up to 16 guests in five suites, and boasts a cloistered patio with dipping pool and one of the most remarkable roof terraces in Marrakech with views across the rooftops of the Medina to the Atlas Mountains. Rooms cost from £112 per night.
Riad Papillon is located in the fashionable Dar El Bashah district of the Medina, with five guestrooms sleeping up to 11 people. The hotel also boasts a dipping pool, patio and roof terrace complete with sunbeds, dining areas and a Moroccan tent. Rooms cost from £80 per night.
Dar Habiba is a traditional secluded riad offering one suite and five rooms (sleeping up to 14 people) sharing a shady courtyard, minutes from the famous Jemma al Fnaa square. Facilities include a dipping pool and roof terrace. Rooms cost from £60 per night.
Owned by English couple Mike and Lucie Wood, a big part of the Marrakech Riad experience is giving back to the local community. This inviting establishment is an integral part of any visit to Marrakech, serving delicious Moroccan dishes as well as supporting free education from proceeds.
“Over the last fifteen years in Marrakech we’ve become expert at helping English speaking guests, especially first time visitors, to make the most of their stay,” explains Lucie. “At the heart of our hospitality is the authenticity of our people. It’s important to us that our guests experience the warmth and integrity of a very personal Moroccan welcome, something they won’t encounter elsewhere. The comment we hear most often is that “nothing was too much trouble”.
Now grab the gang and book out a whole traditional Moroccan riad. Booking one of the boutique Marrakech Riad properties on an exclusive basis is a great option for a family or group of friends, with all the comforts of a home from home coupled with a 24/7 service from the attentive, friendly local staff.
What’s more, banquets can be arranged on request to mark a birthday or special occasion, featuring sumptuous local fare served in the courtyard or in a Berber tent on the roof terrace. Hammam treatments and cookery classes can also be arranged at sister property, Riad Star.
“Staying with us in the old town is an immersive experience not an excursion. There will be unsavoury smells as well as exotic spices and fresh mint. Some visitors to Marrakech will be more comfortable in one of the excellent modern hotels in the new town that deliver the same polished experience that they do everywhere else in the world. But they will have missed out on the accommodation that is unique to Morocco,” Mike concludes.
A stay with Marrakech Riad offers exceptional value for money with a small team of dedicated staff on hand to take care of guests’ every need, delivering an authentic Moroccan ‘home from home’ experience. For further information on Marrakech Riad, please visit here.
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Suggested 3 night itinerary
Ensure to download the Marrakech Riad travel guide plus app available for iOs and Android, “it is a life saver” as many of their guests comment. The app works in Marrakech without expensive data roaming and offers discounts at selected restaurants and shops.
Visit the souks – Souks are the famous markets which are spread across the Medina. So prepare to wander long hours and be fascinated by colors, smells and tastes! One thing you will notice quite early is that the souks are divided into categories; there is a carpets souk, a slippers souk, metalwork souk, spice souk… and many more; Enjoy!
Visit the famous “main square” jemma al fnaa by day and by night. You will notice each giving a completely different experience. The main square or Jema el Fnaa has been the beating heart of Marrakech since the Red City was founded a thousand years ago. Fnaa has two meanings in Arabic, it can mean death, or it can mean courtyard. Opinion is divided as to whether the square takes its name from the gruesome public display there of the heads of criminals in the middle ages or, perhaps more likely, from its distinctive open space. While there you can also admire the iconic, Koutubia mosque. You cannot miss it as its minaret is 69 m high;
Visit the Marrakech museum and the museum district, which is located in the heart of the medina, a short walk from our riads; The largest and most important museum in town is the Musee de Marrakech (Marrakech Museum) which houses a permanent collection of art as well as cultural artefacts including ancient carpets and Berber wedding jewelry. Adjacent is the Ben Yussef Maddrassa an extraordinary and atmospheric building which was an active Koranic School until relatively recently. In our view this is the most interesting of all the historic monuments in Marrakech. The oldest building in Marrakech, the Almoravid Kouba is open to the public and features some of the most remarkable architectural decoration in the whole of the Islamic world.
Stop and admire at least one out of the nineteen medina gate ( bab). The medina of Marrakech is protected by medieval wall, and of course gates are required to allow people to go in and out. But these gates are not ordinary. they date back centuries and their distinctive architecture will impress you; Bab Agnaou is one of our favorites, built in the 12th century.
Explore the wonderful gardens in Marrakech, especially the Majorelle gardens. Just a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute taxi ride from the Marrakesh Medina are the Majorelle Gardens (Le Jardin Majorelle). The gardens were created as a project by the French artist Jacques Majorelle between the 1920’s and 30’s and have grown to become one of Marrakech’s most popular tourist attractions.
Do a day trip into the mountains. We can help you book that. The scenery is truly stunning and remarkably accessible from Marrakech at around an hour and a quarters drive. The excursion normally leaves at 09.00 and you can expect to be back in Marrakech at 16.00
Visit the royal palaces: El badi and bahia. The Bahia Palace and the stunning sets of tranquil gardens enclosed behind its walls are within easy walking distance from Djemaa El Fnaa and have thus become a hugely popular destination for visitors of the red city. El badi is a beautiful palace situated in the south of Marrakech’s historic medina, originally built between 1553-1578 by the Sadiaan king Ahmad al-Mansur to host guests and to act as a residence for him and his family as Marrakech was at the time the capital of Morocco the palace was extensively used.
And lastly, do not over plan your trip; mostly relax and enjoy your holiday!
Riad Papillon currently has a 5 out of 5 star TripAdvisor review rating fromo over 180 reviews.
Dar Habiba currently has a 5 out of 5 star TripAdvisor review rating from over 200 reviews.
Riad Star currently has a 4.5 out of 5 star TripAdvisor review rating from over 190 reviews.
Riad Cinammon currently has a 4.5 out of 5 star TripAdvisor review rating from over 200 reviews.
BEST CITY AWARD 2017 GOES TO MARRAKECH
Marrakech has been chosen by National Geographic as the winner of first place in the Cities category in the 21 Best of the World Destinations 2017.
This very competitive award is nominated by The National Geographic worldwide network of editors, writers and explorers.