What is a Riad? (Plus 7 STUNNING Moroccan Riads To Book)

Seeking more information about riads and what a Riad is in Morocco? We’ve spent a lot of time traveling around the Northern African nation, and no experience is more essential for visitors than staying in a Moroccan Riad.

First, we’ll need to briefly define a riad in Morocco, and then once you feel like you have to stay at one, we’ll show you the best riads in Morocco!

What is a Riad in Morocco?

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So what is a riad? A traditional Moroccan Riad is a home with multiple stories centered around an open-air courtyard with a fountain. Riads were once the estates of the wealthiest citizens, merchants, and courtiers. The building is shaped like a rectangle with different rooms on each side. Riads are a part of traveling to Morocco, and no visit to the country is complete without staying in one.

What is a Riad? This is a traditional riad interior

Most riads have been converted to boutique hotels and guesthouses in the modern era. They’ve grown massively in popularity for tourists visiting Morocco, and we consider it an essential thing to do when visiting the country.

As they were once the homes of the rich, there are plenty of rooms, and guests stay in rooms located along the courtyard’s interior. With most riad situated in the traditional medinas where buildings are connected, it’s rare to have much more than a small exterior window.

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The central courtyard has a garden and serves as the “lounge” and eating place for guests. The courtyard in the middle is open from the top and is the house’s natural light source. With flat roofs and no need for rain management, most roofs now are complete with terraces, gardens, restaurants, and even the occasional pool.

Many of the renovated hotels have occupied adjoining buildings and courtyards to form complexes with hammams, cafes, and lounges to form a maze-like interior.

A riad for travelers is beyond a place to lay your head at night and operate as an oasis. As the streets buzz with hawkers, tourists, animals, and motorbikes, the center of medinas often offer quiet reprieves with nothing more than the babbling central fountain.

The traditional architecture aids in airflow; despite sweltering temperatures outside, they remain cool and refreshing. For us, the center of a riad is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a mint tea with a new book.

The Best Riads in Morocco

Dar Darma

Riads in Marakech - Dar Darma

This stylish riad is located in the Moqf district and was originally a private residence. Now it’s an exclusive six-suite riad decorated in a mix of Morrocan and modern elements. The interior is an intimate blench of color, plush fabrics, beautiful furnishings, and handcrafted ceramics. With all of these gorgeous interiors in a small boutique hotel, you can expect to pay a high nightly rate.

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Riad Kniza Marrakech

Riad Kniza - Riads Marrakech

From the food to the staff to the entertainment, the vibe at Riad Kniza will enchant any visitor. Riad Kniza is located in the heart of the old Marrakech medina and dates back to the 18th century. Rooms are spacious and built from traditional artisan materials.

Marrakech is the entrance into Morocco for many people, and a stay at Riad Kniza will give you a glimpse into the old beauty of the country. Staying here will answer your question of what is a riad. 

Royal Mansour

Riad - Morocco - Marrakech

A stay at Royal Mansour is necessary to truly feel like Arabian royalty. It’s not a traditional Riad, but a modern version of a purpose-built luxury hotel. It still pulls in many design elements from conventional riads, but make no mistake; this is far from the original estates of Morocco was it has salons, pools, gardens, and terraces.

Once you walk through these doors, you can forget about Marrakech’s loud noises, smell, and chaotic streets. Pure relaxation and bliss await you at this jaw-dropping riad fit for a king. The food here is consistently excellent, and spa services are also available. Each room has a personal little garden and balcony with a rooftop pool overlooking Marrakech.

Best Riad in Essaouira

Riad Chbanate 

Riad - Essaouira

A charming and romantic riad located in the seaside city of Essaouira. Upon arrival, visitors will instantly be welcomed in with a warm cup of Moroccan mint tea.

Once finished, all guests will be shown to their rooms which feature beautiful bathrooms with oversized showers and comfortable beds. Riad Chbanate even features its own hammam where guests can relax. If you haven’t tried a traditional hammam yet, this is a must for a rejuvenating body feeling.

Riad Dar Maya

Riad Dar Maya

Right in the heart of the historic district of Essaouira Riad Dar Maya. A beautiful Moroccan Riad with glowing reviews. This riad has a rooftop terrace, a hot tub, and a library.

All the rooms and interiors are decorated elegantly, with some rooms even having a balcony. You can enjoy a delicious Moroccan breakfast on the rooftop every morning as you listen to the ocean waves.

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Best Riads in Fes

Karawan Riad

Riad in Fes

Look no further than Karawan Riad for the crown jewel of Fes.  Each room here is tastefully decorated with gold and brown trim. The food here is an eccentric mix of Moroccan and international cuisine accompanied by extraordinary service.

After a day in the Fes medina, you will want somewhere calming to lay your head, and Karawan Riad is just the place to call home.

Le Jardin Des Biehn

what is a riad

In the very heart of the Fes Medina is the charming Le Jardin Des Biehn. Here you’ll be able to relax among the flowers, fruits, and olive trees surrounding the riad.

Here you’ll find many things to do like relax in the hammam, read a book at the Fez Cafe or learn the art of Moroccan cuisine with a cooking course.  The rooms here vary in size and design, so you’ll be able to get just what you want!

Are Riads Only in Morocco?

Riads are really only found in the medinas of Moroccan cities. It’s unlikely you’ll find one outside of Morocco, but it is always possible someone has been inspired for the idea of a Moroccan riad abroad.

Are All Riads Expensive?

Absolutely not – not all riads in Morocco are luxurious and expensive. There are riads in Morocco at every price level. We’ve stayed in riads under $50 a night in Marrakech.

Can You Dine at the Riad?

It’s traditional for a Moroccan riad to serve a delicious Moroccan breakfast each morning. Some of the high end Moroccan riads have delicious and intimate restaurants that serve dinner most evenings. Reservations are highly recommended at these upscale dineries.

Morocco Travel Planning Resources

  • Packing Guide — Check out our Morocco Packing List to help pack your bags and ensure you don’t leave anything at home.
  • Protect Your Trip — We don’t travel without travel insurance, and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country, and it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo offers excellent short and long-term travel insurance policies.
  • Travel Adapter – Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
  • Travel Backpack – We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
  • Book an Experience – See all the best Moroccan experiences here
  • Rent a Car – We use Discover Cars to find the best deals on car rentals.
About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

2 thoughts on “What is a Riad? (Plus 7 STUNNING Moroccan Riads To Book)”

  1. 50 USD per night she calls cheap? Ridiculously. I am spending my holidays right now in Marrakesh in a riad charging me 14 USD per night including breakfast. Stopped reading this blog at that point.

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