Marrakech’s riads showcase some of the most stunning architecture and design in the world.
Marrakech has thousands of riads that offer travelers an intimate and peaceful retreat from the city’s bustling medina. By definition, a riad is a traditional home that contains an interior symmetrical garden and rooms facing inward so that their doors and windows overlook the courtyard rather than the streets. The arrangement was intended to provide privacy for family and friends to spend time together, and to keep the home cool during the hot summers.
Over time, the term riad has become more loosely used to describe the guesthouses and boutique hotels in Marrakech. And because many of these properties have been bought and restored by foreigners, they showcase design and architectural influences from Morocco and the rest of the world. The result is a fabulous fusion that’s a feast for the eyes.
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Riad BE Marrakech
BE is the fun and laidback retreat created by Nicole Billi and Mohamed Bousaadi, who treat all of their guests and staff like family. The couple first met in 2012 when Billi traveled from her hometown of Zurich, Switzerland, to Marrakech and fell in love—with both Bousaadi and his home country. The pair wed and are now the proud owners of one of the most vibrant riads in the city, blending Billi’s love of modern European design and Bousaadi’s dedication to preserving his cultural heritage. BE also has a yoga studio and spa, plus sells local crafts and artisanal goods.
INSIDER TIPKeep a lookout for the riad’s four permanent guests: a rescue cat named Mushkila—which means “Trouble” in Darija (Moroccan Arabic) and three tortoises called Couscous, Tajine, and Tajnjia, after some of Morocco’s most beloved dishes.
Dar Darma Riad
The moodiest and most mysterious of Marrakech’s riads, Dar Darma is run by an owner who prefers to remain anonymous and was originally intended to be a private residence. Italian designer Dario Locatelli has since transformed it into a gorgeous mansion seeped in rich tones and ornate details. The Red Suite is the most exquisite of the six suites available and will make you feel like the star of your own romantic drama set in the 18th century.
Le Riad Yasmine
Arguably the most popular and recognizable riad in Marrakech, Le Riad Yasmine found Instagram fame in 2016 when an image of its gorgeous green pool went viral. Run by French couple Alice and Gabriel Paris, the space is an oasis full of plants and tiled floors. The rooftop terrace is perfect for enjoying fresh mint tea and you’ll often find yourself accompanied by chirping birds and two saucy felines named Bowie and BB, who went from living on the streets to becoming social media sensations who live like royalty inside the riad.
LM 130 - Riad LA MAISON
German-Italian globetrotter Nicole Francesca Manfron has transformed La Maison (“The House” in French) into a design lover’s dream. Her home is a blend of industrial vintage and Moroccan design—but also embraces the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an aesthetic that places value on natural objects and imperfection. Manfron incorporates everything from concrete and metal to Berber carpets to a bevy of cacti and lanterns strewn about—a smattering of things she adores. As a result, staying at her place feels like a special peek into having one’s own artsy retreat in the medina.
INSIDER TIPLa Maison can only be booked through Airbnb. Since you’ll have the entire place to yourself, you should consider spending at least one night on the rooftop sleeping under the stars.
El Fenn (which means “art” in Arabic) attracts as many stylish locals as it does design-conscious travelers. It boasts an incredible rooftop bar, delicious jewel-hued rooms, and an impressive collection of art from both the owner Vanessa Branson’s private collection and from rotating exhibits. One of the first boutique riad-hotels to ever open in Marrakech, the trendy destination is spread across 12 interconnected riads and has three courtyards—which makes it tempting to explore rather than sit back with a cocktail. The good news is you can do both.
Riad Mena & Beyond
Named after its charming German-Norwegian owner Philomena Schurer Merckoll, Riad Mena & Beyond showcases a beauty that’s subtle compared to that of its more flamboyant peers. The white-washed rooms feel airy and serene, and are accented by only small splashes of color in the forms of contemporary art and hand-embroidered cushions. For those who love a minimal mood, Merckoll’s tribute to the mid-century-modern aesthetic and Marrakech’s creative scene are the perfect combination.
Referred to as “The Grand Dame of Marrakech,” La Mamounia is as rich in history as it is in glamour. It opened as a hotel to the public in 1923 and has since welcomed a long list of celebrities and politicians. Despite La Mamounia’s fame, it remains relatively unknown that the hotel has three private riads on its grounds. Each riad comes with its own heated swimming pool and is hidden among acres of orange trees that makes it hard to believe you’re a stone’s throw away from the medina.
INSIDER TIPThe first thing you notice when you enter La Mamounia is the intoxicating smell. The hotel has its own signature scent—a blend of cedar, dates, and citrus fruits that fills the lobby and hallways. Guests can even take the scent home by purchasing it in the form of candles and room fragrance spray.
Royal Mansour Marrakech
Commissioned and owned by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, the Royal Mansour is the definition of opulence. Case in point: It took more than 1,500 local artisans to build the royal tribute to Moroccan architecture. Rather than rooms, guests stay in one of 53 private riads spread across several acres of fragrant gardens. The Royal Mansour’s crown jewel is the spa, an elaborate atrium made of white metal lacework that resembles a (very fabulous) birdcage.
Riad Tarabel is an enchanting hideaway that exudes old-world charm. Antique maps, peacock chairs, taxidermy birds, and sparkling chandeliers all have a place here, as do lush paintings that were shipped from the enigmatic owner’s family château in France. For those who love travel-inspired nostalgia and treasures, a stay at Tarabel is an absolute must.
INSIDER TIPPay close attention to the guilt mirrors that decorate Tarabel’s sitting areas. One of them is actually a secret door that leads to a spa. All you have to do is find and press the button.
La Sultana Marrakech
A study in sumptuousness, La Sultana aims to emulate the experience of what it would be like to be welcomed into a sultan’s home. The luxury hotel contains five lavish riads and courtyards (as well as a swoon-worthy pool) nestled within Marrakech’s Kasbah district. This is a place for guests who revel in excess; there’s no shortage of copper accents, marble columns, and intricately-carved wooden accents. Surely even a true sultan would approve.