When you get ready to visit Morocco, one of your first questions will be, “Where will we stay?”
There are two main options for your accommodations.
The first option is to stay in a hotel. There is a large choice of pretty modern hotels with great amenities. Hotels in Morocco will look and feel largely like any other hotel around the world.
Second option is to stay in a Riad to get a more authentic Moroccan experience.
What is a riad?
A riad is a traditional Moroccan house with a garden on the inside. They used to be traditional houses of very rich families of Morocco living in the Medina. This inner courtyard acts as a sanctuary from the outside world. Beautiful tile work, plants, and water features commonly grace this space, giving you a real feeling of peace and quiet.
While these houses or palaces were originally for the wealthier of society, many have now been turned into guest houses. Rather than a large hotel, these houses are run more along the lines of bed & breakfast or boutique hotel establishments.
These are incredible places to stay because they give a genuinely Moroccan experience. Riads are known for being exquisite displays of intricate Moroccan architecture. Everywhere you look, you can see the beautiful, hand laid tile work Morocco is associated with.
Traditional patterns create vibrant but serene atmosphere to relax in. The hospitality and food you’ll receive will go above and beyond what you’ve experienced at hotels.
Open your mind and heart to what Morocco has to offer you, by hosting you in their own way: the riad way.
Here are 7 things that you need to know about Moroccan Riads :
1. The Basic Layout: Rooms off of a main courtyard
One of the major components of most riads is the large courtyard in the center with an open ceiling. For smaller riads, you’re likely to find a fountain or two.
And for the larger riads, it’s common to have a swimming pool for their guests to use. Lush trees, plants, and flowers are sure to be decorating the space as well. The garden works to create green refuge in the midst of the city.
Because this center area is so lovely, the riads are built with this as the focus. Rather than windows and balconies facing the outside world, they face inwards. Windows in the rooms will open up to the courtyard instead of the streets outside. The abundance of natural light allows the whole house to be filled with sun during the day. This design has been used for two different reasons.
The first originates from the Islamic value of privacy. The courtyard allows family and friends to meet, spend time together, and enjoy the delights of being outside all while having complete privacy.
The second reason is more on the practical side of living in Morocco. The large courtyard-centered house allows cool air to enter the house and keep the heat to a minimum during hot Moroccan summers. In the summer months this feature makes riads comfortable even at the hottest time of day.
2. Room Set-Up: A smaller number of individually decorated suites
One of the most noticeable differences between hotels and riads is their size. True to their nature of individualized attention to detail, riads are much smaller than their counterparts. Many riads even have less than 10 rooms or suites!
Because there are less rooms, each room is able to be uniquely furnished. Great precision and care are put into every part of the room. Each room will have its own distinct features and personality rather than having all the same layout and décor. Picture immaculately tiled sinks and bathrooms, rich colors, and incredible artwork.
The beauty of your room will amaze you with its woodwork and paintings!
3. A fantastic choice for traditional food.
Meals taken at a riad will absolutely be the meals that you remember from your time in Morocco! They are so good that even people who aren’t staying at the riad will come just for dinner! You might think that a restaurant will automatically serve better food than your accommodations but this is not the case in Morocco.
Those cooking your meals at the riad are experts in what they do and love to make food that leaves guests completely satisfied. Dinners are often lavish traditional foods, a real spread of the culinary treasures Morocco has to offer. If you have special dietary needs, riads are ready and willing to accommodate you, as they are able.
For breakfast, except a traditional breakfast that is sure to start your day off right! You’ll enjoy fresh Moroccan bread and pastries, with jam and honey. There are also accompanying breakfast foods that you would eat at a hotel’s breakfast buffet.
Freshly made tea, coffee, and orange juice are the perfect thing to get you ready for another day of adventure! At the right time of year, special oranges are in season and make the best, naturally sweet juice you’ve ever tasted.
4. A hidden oasis in the heart of the Medina
You might not even know you are looking at a riad even if you are right in front of one. Remember what we said about the focus being on the inner courtyard? Because of this, a lot of importance isn’t placed on the outside entrance. Most of the doors in Morocco are wooden with carvings on them, and most riads are no exceptions.
A simple door, just like all the others, can hide the most surprising and beautiful guesthouse. Many riads will only have a small sign on the street where they’re located. Don’t assume that the gorgeous riad you will stay in is easily visible from the street. The secret beauty is part of the charm.
Once you step inside, you’ll understand how special this difference is. All riads are found within the old cities. The hustle and bustle of daily life surrounds these havens on the outside. In the midst of all the activity, riads offer you a step into a world away.
5. Personalized and caring service
Due to the small number of rooms in the riad, service is personalized and exceptional. Guests who have stayed in the riad always comment on the detailed attention that they receive from staff! Individual needs are able to be easily met.
Clients say that they felt like they knew or met every single person working there. This is another area that causes the riad to be different than the hotel and is often one of the highlights of staying in a riad. No matter what arises, the riad staff is there to make your stay worry free and as enjoyable as possible.