There is no shortage of authentic accommodations, and as a tourist it is easy to get a glimpse into the world of the locals staying in a riad.
The ‘riad’ is a multiple-storey, closed building with an inner courtyard in the middle, surrounded by rooms connected by corridors. Traditionally, it has one entrance, a small door that leads directly to the inner courtyard. The word ‘riad” is the inner courtyard itself, the house is called “dar”, so when looking for accommodation, pay attention to these two keywords.
The structure of the riad
The kitchen is located in the basement of the traditional riad, to which a narrow staircase leads. On the ground floor there are more spacious rooms and open spaces, which were traditionally used by men, where they gathered, worked and received guests. The women’s common areas were located upstairs, thus avoiding meeting men. There are also rooms on the upper floors connected by a narrow corridor.
The inner courtyard is decorated with intricate tile patterns. In the middle there was traditionally a fountain or a small pool surrounded by flowers, plants, or trees. The windows of the riad are narrow, with robust shutters hiding the inner world from the outside.
The houses have Moorish terraces, the balconies are built in, the wooden windows and the shutters usually made by wood are decorated, and only allow you to look from the inside out, you can’t really see anything from the outside. On the roof, windows let in light into the inner courtyard, everything else floats in mysterious darkness. The corridors and common areas are illuminated by lamps decorated with glass mosaics.
This style of construction is not accidental, on the one hand it has a practical effect: in the high heat the enclosed space stays much cooler, the white or red walls kept the heat, the dust outside.
In terms of culture and roles, nothing symbolizes the closedness of social structures more than the riads. Women’s traditional job was to keep the warmth of the home. Accordingly, only the close relatives and female acquaintances of the women were allowed into the enclosed spaces of the houses. They could go out on the street with scarfs covering their hair, sometimes their faces, usually accompanied by men or Berber service staff.
Anyone who visits the country nowadays will notice little of this as these social norms are more relaxed. You can read about the current situation of women by clicking here.
After the introduction, I guarantee that you will enter into a riad and feel all the emotions! Fortunatelly tourism favoured the preservation of these houses, most of the riads have been converted into hotels, thus guaranteeing their survival.
How to choose a traditional riad?
It is important to keep in mind that in Morocco you should only look for accommodations that is rated above 8! Ratings below this average are often not in line with the true condition of the place. In the case of riads, look in the reviews for feedback about ventilation, paying particular attention to bed bugs and fungi. Due to retrofitted bathrooms in enclosed spaces and poor ventilation, these are three common problems.
The Moroccan breakfast is sumptuous, it is also worth booking with the accommodation. Usually fresh pastries, pies, eggs, jam, peanut butter, argan oil, tea and freshly squeezed juices are served on the table.
Unbeatable value for money! Great location, beautiful traditional riad with a small indoor pool and roof terrace. The receptionist and staff are helpful, and you can even book tours if you don’t feel like bargaining in the hustle and bustle of the souk. Great advantage is that the rooms have air conditioning and breakfast is plentiful and delicious, depending on the weather, searved out on the terrace or in the inner courtyard, both very cozy.
The sunset is beautiful from the terrace and it is nice to talk here after dark when the market is quiet. Relax and drink tea at sunset. Jeema El Fna Square is close by, about 5 minutes away, and a taxi or airport shuttle can be arranged if required.
Click here to book: Riad Abaka hotel & boutique
A quiet little oasis in the middle of the bustling medina, close to all major attractions, but luckily the rooms are still quiet. Personally, I like this part of the city the most, you can easily get here by taxi or airport shuttle and it is less bustling than the streets on the other side of Jema El Fna.
You can relax in the richly decorated common areas and on the roof terrace after a visit to a souk. Clean accommodation with very delicious breakfast. They are very flexible, they accept late and early arrivals!
Click here to book: Riad Chorfa
A little further away from the busy souk you can find two lavish accommodations. A common element of both is the indoor pool, which is a refreshment in the summer heat that lasts through September. Both accommodations are exceptionally clean, the staff is helpful and kind. The decoration and structure of the riad reflects tradition, in its simplicity. Their reddish color scheme evokes the feeling of Thousand and One Nights, with beautiful inner courtyards and roof terraces.
Since I only visited once I only have one recommendation: Riad Dar Fes
In Fez it is worth booking accommodation in the medina, from there you will immediately find yourself in the hustle and bustle of the souk. This is the most authentic Moroccan experience. The only difficulty is that you can only get to the hotels on foot within the city walls, keep this in mind if you are arriving with a larger suitcase. The road leads to the accommodation on very narrow and steep streets, stairs.
On the plus side, it is located on the southern side, so the taxi will leave you near the gate below it, from here you can reach the accommodation in a matter of seconds. And there is another very useful aspect: the streets of Fez are maze labyrinths, but if you always go downhill, there is a very good chance you will get to the gate below, and from there you can easily find your accommodation.
The riads here have a narrow interior, especially compared to the riads in Marrakesh, but in Fez all houses are traditionally built, beautifully and authentically decorated, so cozy! The most beautiful part is the roof terrace, where you can also sit down, have a chat, a tea, or even dinner. It is worth catching the call to prayer from here at least once, ask at the reception when they are, as the timing is always changing a bit. It is such an amazing experience to hear the imams praying from the minarets, they start almost simultaneously, and as Fez lies in a valley, the nearby hills will be echoing this prayer.
Located in the quieter part of the city, Agyad hotel’s greatest advantage is that it is a little far from the busier parts of the coast, almost in the immediate vicinity of the coastline owned by the king.
Its spacious rooms and west-facing windows offer beautiful views of the ocean and the sun setting behind the mountains. It is very clean and thanks to its pool you can bathe even if you find the ocean water too cold.
It was a strange feeling to read the reviews, several people complained about the dust and the noise of the Saturday night party. I had slept here on two different occasions, neither room was dusty, and I had not met any other guests.
Apartment style hotel complex, very close to the beach and places frequented by tourists. There are shops, entertainment venues, and restaurants in the vicinity. It has a spacious pool and a common courtyard with panoramic views of the beautiful sunset. A good choice for those arriving with a larger group, as there are several rooms in an apartment with double beds.
Unfortunately, it is not the most modern and equipped accomodation. Most of the time, the hot water rans out quickly, and this can be annoying in the winter, it doesn’t matter in the summer heat anyway.
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