Riads in Morocco: Why You Should Absolutely Stay In One
Morocco is home to almost 900 riads. Each one tells its story through unique hand-painted tiles, woven textiles, Berber rugs and exquisitely wood-carved columns and ceilings.
To put it plain and simple, Riad is a traditional house. Translated as a “garden,” every Riad does have a lush garden and a courtyard. As well as a swimming pool, a hammam, guest rooms, kitchen, dining area – the only thing that makes Riad different from a hotel is its decor and the appearance.
The inside and the outside.
What is a Riad ?
Riad is a traditional Moroccan house with a central courtyard located in the bustling Medina. Riads are hidden by tiny doors in the wall. Behind the hidden door, there is a lovely garden of orange and olive trees.
Originally homes for the wealthiest people – politicians merchants, many riads have been restored to their former glory and turned into boutique hotels.
The difference between a hotel and a riad
Hotels, especially in tourist bustling cities like New York, Vegas, Miami, do everything they can to attract passerby’s and bring their advertising efforts upfront. Neon signs, tacky interiors, enormous front entrance areas and valet service.
Each Riad is hidden behind indistinct doors inside the sand-colored walls of the Medina. There are barely any signs that show its existence. It’s impossible to find other than a lock,a knock, and maybe a little label by the door. As you explore and get lost in the Medina (this is a must!), you won’t even realize that you are standing or passing by some of the most incredible riads, hidden by plain walls, the look just like the rest of the city.
Let’s not question the marketing skills; it’s more of a tradition.
Hidden beauty is very typical of Islamic culture. Women are covered. Houses are covered. All the windows are directed to the inside, the courtyard, and the fabulous decor of the home. It is called “closed architecture”.
Riad’s architecture is designed for Islam and for the desert. In the summer, the family lives on the lower level of the riad, where marble floors retain the cool, so much needed in the baking summer heat. During the winter, the family moves upstairs to the wood-carved and carpeted area that is warmer.
Like other Moroccan hotels, it is built around a leafy central courtyard and decorated with traditional Moroccan furniture, patterns, and lanterns.
The difference between riad in Morocco and dar
The main difference is in the construction and the location: riads have an interior garden, dars have an inner courtyard. Riads are located in the Medina of all Moroccan cities. Dars are usually found in the town or on the outskirts.
Flats and studios are called dourias.
What’s so special about Morocco riads?
Each Riad has no more than ten rooms. Each room is uniquely decorated, more often than not using traditional textiles and craftsmanship.
Typically riads combine impressive high ceilings, bold colors caught by handcrafted ceramics and tiles, massive brass chandeliers and cedarwood carvings, opulent furnishings, and everything that brings out the glory of the sultan era.
Riad is a definite escape from the harshness and craze of the bustling Medina. After a long, tough day of sightseeing, bargaining and shopping for deals of a lifetime, retreating back to the Riad feel like heaven. Step into the orange tree-filled courtyard, inhale the serenity and jasmine scent so typical for riads.
You are likely to be greeted with mint tea and hot towels.
Most riads open upwards to the sky, flowing sunlight into the courtyards during the day and unveiling starry night skies after dark.
The Riad we stayed at in Fez had 3-meter tall ceilings (imagine a church kind of ceiling ), and from top to bottom, it was wood-carved in the most detailed, rare, and exquisite work. Add vibrant colors of typical Moroccan tiles, hanging lanterns, colorful textiles, hand-woven Berber rugs. Every detail of the decor radiates characteristic eastern charm .
Staying at a riad when visiting Morocco is a must, at least for a day. Nothing captures Morocco’s imperial spirit and history as riads do.
Our Riad in Fez was the most impressive. It had richly ornamented ceilings 3-meter tall ceilings(in our room!), hand-woven Berber rugs, on top of rugs and on top of rugs, and wrought iron railings. Everywhere you looked was a hand-carved, hand-painted something.
Cost of staying at a Moroccan Riad
There is a vast range of riads from hostel-type to high-end accommodations. Generally, it’s a bargain on a shoestring.
If you like the personalized service that boutique hotels offer, you’ll be in heaven.
Riads are usually individually owned, and with the small number of guests, add the famous eastern hospitality to it, and you can expect the most personalized service.