Name Morocco as a travel destination, and you’ll hear high praise for the riad. A riad, which originates from the Arabic term for garden, is a palace-like residence built around a courtyard. It is often clad in rich colours and intricate Islamic geometry, and is where families can lounge in privacy. We pick five to check into.
While many riad are a confluence of French and Moroccan designs, Riad 72 stands out for its Italian, Art Deco flair – thanks to its Italian owner, Giovanna Cinel. The riad is filled with authentic Italian and antique furniture from the 1920s and 30s, which have been paired with stucco walls, carefully carved arches and Islamic geometrical motifs. Riad 72 occupies a former palace but, despite its recent revamp, still maintains a stately and historical essence. The terrace is known to be the highest in the city, overlooking the Koutoubia Mosque’s tower and the Atlas Mountains.
The lounge area features a cosy fireplace.
Experience sunset in Morocco on Riad 72’s roof terrace.
The deluxe room offers a view of the courtyard.
These ombrestyle tiles were designed and hand-painted by skilled Moroccan craftsmen.
ENJOY THE DAY IN THE GARDEN AND VIEW SUNSETS ON THE TERRACE.
LE RIAD BERBERE
This authentic riad was built at the end of the 17th century, and renovated by Belgian architect Quentin Wilbur in 1999. Instead of sticking to the usual vibrant hues, he gave it a refreshing all-white interior. This minimalist approach allows the eye to focus on architectural details. Only 14 occupants are allowed at a time, ensuring you will have the quiet siesta you deserve. It’s easy on the pocket, too, with rooms starting from $133 a night.
Both the cuisine and decor are authentically Moroccan.
There is plenty of shade in the courtyard, thanks to the luxuriant banana, orange and olive trees.
Though it features allwhite interiors, the rooms are furnished with the signature warm red and ochre carpets of Morocco.
Suites overlooking the courtyard; luxuriant trees offering you shade by the courtyard pool; and elaborately carved antique furniture – this 19th century riad owned by British designer Jasper Conran has it all. There are only five suites here welcoming you like royalty, each adorned with a romantic four-poster bed as well as a walk-in wardrobe that leads you to a tadelakt bathroom. Reviewers praise it for being a quiet oasis and for its home-away-fromhome (albeit a glamorous one) environment – just what you need after a busy day visiting souks and mosques.
Each room has a spacious private terrace, with voile curtains that you can pull across for privacy.
RIAD MENA & BEYOND
Modernity and tradition meet in this riad designed by hotelier Romain Michel-Meniere. Here, you sink your feet into woven Moroccan rugs, sleep on a Tempur mattress, and shower in a Philippe Starck-designed bathroom. And before you attend its film screenings, you can drop by the honesty kitchen and help yourself to drinks and snacks. This entire riad is up for rent, too, making it the ideal getaway for families and large groups exploring Marrakech.
There are six spacious rooms in the riad, and a 20m pool, too.
RIAD JARDIN SECRET
You have to walk through a discreet passageway before finding this riad, which is aptly called The Secret Garden in English. This picturesque spot is run by a creative duo from Paris who – with their indie fashion background – collaborate with local artisans and source furniture from flea markets to create the rustic and picturesque riad it is today. To create an authentic, free-spirited atmosphere, the owners have decided to do without televisions and air-conditioning. Their inhouse restaurant, The Pink Rooftop, offers gourmet vegetarian cuisine.
The bathroom features Zellige (a type of mosaic) tilework.
Pink walls for restaurant The Pink Rooftop. This riad features many vibrant hues.
Each of the six rooms features intricately designed ceilings.
TEXT ELIZA HAMIZAH