• The best luxury riads of Morocco

All you needed to know about Morocco’s Riads

The riads of Morocco are definitely taken from the pages of a fairytale. What is riad? A riad is a traditional Moroccan palace with an interior courtyard. Normally reserved for Islamic royalty and nobles, today people like you and I can stay in these impressive buildings since a great number of them have been restored as hotels in cities such as Fez, Marrakech and Essaouira.

Here’s a brief overview of the main characteristics of the riads and my recommendations for the best ones to stay at in Marrakech. Enjoy this piece of paradise and let me know what you think of it!

Luxury in Morocco, the best riads of Marrakech

Luxury in Morocco, the best riads of Marrakech

What is Riad and why should you care

Riad comes from the arabic word ryad, meaning garden. In ancient times, the sole purpose of the architectural design of the riads was to shelter noblewomen from the outside looks of the common folk, effectively creating an inside-garden for them.

The best part? The inward focus architecture creates a natural cooling effect that will protect you from the heat of Morocco, specially in cities such as Marrakech where it is not uncommon to see people fainting in the streets because of overheating.

Relaxing at the Riad

Relaxing at the Riad

Riads normally have two to three floors plus a terrace, all creating an interesting ensemble of Islamic art and architecture that co-exists in harmony with the natural flow of the palace. Having visited the Alhambra in Granada before, the riads definitely follow the same thematic of being a piece of paradise on Earth!

The walls of the riads are traditionally decorated with mosaics and Arabic inscriptions taken from the Quran, so if you know the language you will appreciate even more the beauty of this luxurious Moroccan palaces.

Islamic decorations at the Riad

Islamic decorations at the Riad

How to choose the best riad for you in Marrakech

Throughout Morocco, there are many different types of riad that cater to all sort of tastes. While normally they are reserved for the luxury traveler, some riads are open to backpackers who can stay in a shared dorm in an average riad for as little as 10 euros per night.

However, if you want to have an authentic Moroccan experience in Marrakech, there’s nothing like having a complete riad for you and your loved ones without any other guests disturbing your inner peace with their loud talking and excessive partying. Trust me, staying in a private riad will change the way you think about hotels.

Architectural beauty of the Riad

Architectural beauty of the Riad Lak Lak

For my stay in Marrakech, I was invited by Aleksander, a Swiss entrepreneur, to stay at his Riads in order to live and experience a true Moroccan tradition. When my media assistant and I first arrived to the Riad Lak Lak we couldn’t believe that we had the six bedrooms to ourselves!

True, I have been invited to stay at hotels before in my career as a travel writer but this was the first time that I was invited to stay in a palace. And I loved every second of it. Our favorite part of the riad? The amazing terrace from where you could appreciate incredible views of Marrakech during the night.

Terrace of Riad Lak Lak

Terrace of Riad Lak Lak

The main difference between private riads and the rest of the hotel/hostel in Marrakech is the fact that you will never see any outside sign that could indicate that behind this wooden old door lies a piece of paradise. This is done mostly to protect the guests against scammers and touts since they would never imagine that you’re staying in a luxury property.

However, you should try to memorize exactly the turns of the souks (and to always have the phone number of the guardian/caretaker in hand) because otherwise you will end up getting lost and unable to return to your wonderful riad!

Courtyard of Riad Lak Lak

Courtyard of Riad Lak Lak

And while there’s nobody to make breakfast for you, all private riads come with a fully equipped kitchen that will help you survive the hunger of Ramadan and yes, of course that you can bring your own alcohol and store it in the freezer. A few days after leaving the riad I attempted to do the same in a hostel and the manager got so mad at me!

You really cannot put price on freedom and that’s why I believe that renting a whole riad for yourself and your companions is one of the best ideas when traveling to a conservative country such as Morocco.

Doorway to Paradise in a Moroccan Riad

Doorway to Paradise

Plus, you always have the freedom of inviting new friends to your riad since there’s no one there to tell you that it isn’t allowed. However, bear in mind that it is against Moroccan Islamic law to invite locals to your house. Yes, I know that Moroccan women are beautiful but trust me, you don’t want to break the laws in a country like this one.

That specific rule is a real shame becuase the bedrooms at the riads are so nice! They even come with a bathtub! You’ll definitely feel like a sultan after spending one night in Riad Naila, the second riad that my media assistant and I visited .

A bedroom fit for a sultan

A bedroom fit for a sultan

How to book a Riad in Morocco

As I said before, most of the best riads are private and you’ll be unable to just walk in and book it. What I recommend you to do is to book it directly via e-mail and arrange payment beforehand. You can book the Riad Petit Palais, the third riad where my media assistant and I stayed, as well as the Riad Lak Lak and Riad Naila in this website.

While riads tend to be on the expensive side (100 to 180 euros per night), they are actually the best value for your money as long as you have a party of 2 or more people since the cost is per riad, not per person.

Have you ever been to Morocco? Would you like to stay in a Riad? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!!!

Courtyard of Riad Naila

Courtyard of Riad Naila

July 12th, 2014|Categories: Africa Travel|Tags: |
Raphael Alexander is a Nomadic Digital Marketer and Travel Influencer who overcame the chains of the local economy and found a way to achieve his dream of having a professional life while traveling the world non-stop. His goal in life is to inspire the people of the world to unleash their full inner potential. A perfect day for him includes exotic animals, ancient pyramids, breath-taking waterfalls and tasty tacos. Lots of tacos.

35 Comments

  1. Michael Huxley July 12, 2014 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Look at you all cross legged pretending to be Islamic royalty in the riad! You do know there are perfectly good cushions just behind you? ;D Haha! I can’t imagine having this amazing place all to myself. I love the idea that to the outside world it would just appear to be any normal average entrance in the middle of a souk, only to open up into grand luxury when you enter. That has to be awesome!

  2. chaimae July 12, 2014 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    Im real glad you liked the riads in my country but just to rectify riads have never been palaces for nobles or royalty but just big houses for 2or 3 generations family. Thats all. Please review ure infos before posting them.

  3. Jess July 12, 2014 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Oh wow… those photos are stunning! What a beautiful way to spend your holiday!

  4. Esther July 13, 2014 at 3:59 am - Reply

    Last year I traveled through Morocco for a month and was so pleased to stay in some lovely Riads. I can highly recommend Lune et Soleil in Fez and Casa Lila in Essaouira. Just amazing.\
    Found you through SundayTraveler 🙂

  5. Diana July 13, 2014 at 5:17 am - Reply

    Love the decorative colors! Wonderful photos!

  6. Marie-Carmen July 13, 2014 at 6:44 am - Reply

    Haaa Riads, I love them, they are just gorgeous… The architecture, the inside courtyard, love it!
    I’ve stayed in one a while back in Marrakesh but that was a veryyy long time ago unfortunately!

    I’ve really got to head back to Morocco one day, it really has so much charms!

  7. Emma July 13, 2014 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Morocco is a country up in my top five places I must visit very soon. I love the sound of Riads too, they look beautiful!

  8. Margherita @The Crowded Planet July 13, 2014 at 7:44 am - Reply

    Looks beautiful! Morocco is so fascinating, and staying in such a wonderful place must add to the magic!

  9. Corinne July 13, 2014 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Raphael, I love your photos and you’ve given us some great advice for choosing riads!

  10. Karisa July 13, 2014 at 10:18 am - Reply

    These riads are SO beautiful! I love how colorful and full of art they are. The privacy is a fabulous draw as well!

  11. Sabina July 13, 2014 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I was in Morocco a few months ago and I stayed in a completely fantastic hostel – probably the best I’ve ever been to. It’s called Equity Point and looks like a riad! You should definitely check it out 🙂 These are all absolutely stunning!

    • Raphael Alexander Zoren July 17, 2014 at 8:35 am - Reply

      Next week I’ll be solo traveling to Marrakech back again, will definitely take a loot at that, Sabina!

  12. SJ July 13, 2014 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    I love all of the mosaics and colour, I hope one day I get to stay in a riad of my very own.

  13. Sarah @ A Week at the Beach July 13, 2014 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Amazing photos and great advice on booking a Riad. Morocco is on my list, hope to get there in the next year for sure, enjoy the rest of your trip!

  14. Charli July 14, 2014 at 11:50 am - Reply

    I love the colours and patterns in the tiled walls. When we finally settle down I hope I can recreate the textures and sense of calm from the raids of Marrakech in our home. Great post thanks for inspiring me!

  15. Megan Claire July 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    This looks so cool! Thanks for sharing. Morocco is incredibly high on our list, but we hadn’t looked into accommodation yet. Were thinking of probably camping on safari of some sort, but will definitely have to schedule a few days either side to stay in a Raid. Authentic accommodation is half of the experience!

    • Raphael Alexander Zoren July 17, 2014 at 8:40 am - Reply

      It is! I’m sure you’ll love it down here Megan!

    • Essie December 27, 2016 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      It’s great to read something that’s both enjoyable and provides prigtamasdc solutions.

  16. Victoria July 18, 2014 at 1:09 am - Reply

    I’ve never been to Morocco Raphael but I keep hearing good things about that lovely country. I would definately stay in a Riad as it’s extremely authentic and who wouldn’t like to be treated as royalty for a few days, or a week, or a month LOL!
    We’re a family of two adults and one pre-teenager, wouldn’t a complete Riad be too large do you think?

    • Raphael Alexander Zoren September 15, 2014 at 10:31 am - Reply

      I think it would be alright, after all, it’s all about relaxing during your travels, Victoria 🙂

  17. Darhani riad July 25, 2016 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Welome to Darhani & House of tranquillity

    Darhani is an elegant riad in the heart of the Marrakech Medina. It has a central courtyard and pool, and has been decorated and furnished to a high standard throughout, mixing the traditional with the modern to create a chic and original style.

    Darhani, which means “house of tranquillity” is located in a nice area near the Rue Dar el Bacha with its antique and jewellery shops.

    It is also just an 8-10 minute walk from the magic of the legendary Jemaa el Fna square – a haphazard marketplace by day, but at dusk, transformed into a nocturnal carnival of performers with the world’s most amazing outside dining area.

    The Darhani riad is a few minutes walk from the souks, the Ben Medersa and Musee de Marrakech.

    Darhani is exceptional in that, although it has only four bedrooms, it has three sitting rooms and an amazing tented terrace, as well as a dining room.

    At the Darhani we offer a vegetarian menu for both lunch and dinner service, and have an excellent cook. Breakfast is included, and varies each day.

    We have an English speaking manager who can organise tour guides, excursions and book restaurants for you.

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