The Enchantment of Morocco’s Riads

By Andrew Wong,

Protected from the bustle and chatter of the medinas, the riads are the homegrown answer to travellers looking for an authentic inn or boutique hotel in Morocco. What Moroccan riads do have in common are stately rooms facing onto a central courtyard, heritage perhaps as a former residence of the local bourgeoisie, and period antiques; yet these touches nevertheless characterize the uniqueness.

Whether adhering to ultra-luxe minimalism or dressed in tchotchke maximalism, any visitor to this North African kingdom owes it to themselves to be hosted at one of these independent inns.


Riad Laaroussa, Fez

Riad Laaroussa and the Sola family strike an almost unreal calmness at their boutique riad in the great tangle of Fez’s alleyways. Cross the threshold into the 17th-century building as the noise of the medina is vacuumed out to just the sputter of the courtyard’s sahridj fountain.

Luxuriously appointed rooms are decorated with local textiles and bring the building’s architectural heritage to the fore. In the bathrooms, enveloping bathrobes and embroidered slippers await after a black soap scrub. The standout room in the adjacent Maison Laaroussa is the Terrace Suite whose master bedroom opens onto views of Marinid tombs on the hill above Fez.

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A rooftop breakfast, taken with views over the medina, opens with fresh pressed orange juice and follows with Moroccan pancakes (whether that be crumpet-like beghrir or flaky m’smmen depends on the day).


Riad Star, Marrakech

The Riad Star — named as such for Josephine Baker, the French jazz singer, revolutionary, and starlet who used to reside here — feels like a chic, but cozy home away from home. As one of four Riads in Marrakech owned by the British couple-turned-hoteliers Lucie and Mike Wood, it has a mix of contemporary luxury and traditional charm.

The hectic cacophony of noise on the streets seems impossibly far away once you step into the quiet calm of the Riad. From the intricate white facades of the centre courtyard to the earthy brown and black tiles lining the wading pool, every corner of the space is graced with thoughtful details. The handmade silver lamps, soft-patterned carpets, and beaded blankets are a textile-lovers dream.

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When you’re lounging in draped cabanas on the rooftop with a steaming pot of mint tea and a basket of coconut biscuits or treating your skin to a steamy hammam treatment, Riad Star is where you’ll find serenity in the souks.

Interested to learn more about Riad Star directly from the innkeepers? Tune into Episode 05: Party Of One: Is Solo Travel Safe? of the trivago podcast!


Ksar Ighnda, Ouarzazate

Fusing into the façades of this Saharan trading town, the Ksar Ighnda could easily pass for one of the towering, sand castle-like kasbahs that draw visitors to Ouarzazate. Fifty-five rooms with artisanal touches from hand-carved doors to thatch ceilings are a departure from chain hotel uniformity.

Indulge in the riad’s full hammam experience from black soap gommage through to a relaxing massage. Guests are sure to appreciate the crisp courtyard pool and sunbeds after a day of wandering around Aït Benhaddou and this desert town.

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End your day with a drink on the rooftop terrace overlooking the Ounila River and the Atlas Mountains. The property’s restaurant brings together French cooking and Moroccan ingredients in a reasonably-priced prix fixe menu.


Hôtel Dar Mounir, Chefchaouen

Shades of blue may cover the unforgettable town of Chefchaouen, your lodging, however, will have you feeling anything but! Hôtel Dar Mounir right off the medina’s main square is a favourite local accommodation for trivago users looking for respite in one of Morocco’s friendliest cities.

The riad, mimicking the narrow alleys outside its walls, has its own set of steep stairs and snaking hallways to conquer. Curvaceous doorways of Arabic fables open onto guestrooms with charming ensuite bathrooms.

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After a day of hiking around the Rif mountains and exploring Chefchaouen’s Kasbah, a mint infusion at the hotel’s café is the perfect accompaniment to some travel journaling.


Riad Villa Blanche, Agadir

You’re dreaming of the beach on your Moroccan getaway and the Atlantic coast between Essaouira and Agadir is the place to find it. Though not your typical vision of a medina riad, the Riad Villa Blanche makes use of its ample space at the edge of the Secteur Touristique to create a resort-like atmosphere for guests.

An outdoor pool, restaurant, bar, library and spa with an indoor pool are made available to guests staying at the Riad. While in-room, guests will delight in spacious European-style rooms with air conditioning, minibars and pet-friendly designations.

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For those looking for an active vacation in Agadir, the Riad is happy to arrange boat trips, surf lessons and tee times at the golf courses nearby.


Dar Yasmine, Tangier

Tangier is a Moroccan city like no other. Having switched between the hands of world powers in the early 20th century, the city’s inhabitants, its architecture and its attitude are a bit of a cocktail. As such the city’s most important son, the explorer Ibn Battuta, appropriately personifies this worldly ethos.

Hiding in the Tangier medina, you won’t soon forget the panoramic view from Dar Yasmine‘s rooftop as you watch the sun set over Morocco’s northern-most city and its port. Rooms range in size and view from Standard to Privilege with Moroccan décor as a baseline throughout. With a location facing the Great Mosque of Tangier, you expect to be tickled awake by the morning fajr call to prayer.

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The riad’s complimentary breakfast hooks you up with Moroccan breakfast breads, yogurt and eggs. Make use of the riad’s WiFi to plan out your day’s wander before taking this Mediterranean city head on!


Have you been to Morocco already? Where did you find your taste of the riad life?

The Riad Star excerpt was authored by Emma Sullivan. Read her full report on this idyllic Marrakech riad in “Serenity in the Souks: A Woman’s Musings from Marrakech” on Room5 US.