choosing a riad in Marrakech

How to Choose the Best Riad in Marrakech – 8 Things to Keep in Mind

When we came to visit Morocco (our starting point was the Agadir region), one of our bucket list experiences was to stay in Riad in Marrakech and Fes as we really wanted to get a feel of what it was like spending nights (and days) in a traditional Moroccan house or even palace that at some point served as a home for locals, providing an authentic insight into Moroccan heritage.

It took me a while to plan our Marrakech itinerary and more so to find beautiful riads that would meet our budget. But little did I know that best value and reviews from others were not the only points to weigh when looking for the best riad for us as a couple.

After multiple stays in traditional Moroccan residences across the country, I realized that choosing the perfect riad can be the cherry on top of any Moroccan adventure, but it requires careful consideration to ensure a memorable stay.

I understood some essential tips that are important to keep in mind when selecting a riad in Marrakech Medina. Here they are below, so you can use them too to choose a luxury or cheap riad for yourself not just in Marrakech but anywhere in Morocco!

***This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Traditional Riad in Marrakech for Your Stay 

Consider Proximity to Streets/Squares Where Taxis Are Allowed

driving in Medina

If you are traveling with heavy luggage, stroller, or wheelchair when in Morocco and want to stay in a riad in Medina, my number one advice for you – opt for a riad located closer to the main streets or squares where taxis are permitted or where private transfer is allowed.

In this way, after the drop-off, you will minimize the challenges of reaching it from the airport or bus/train station and enjoy a smoother transition to your stay in Morocco. Otherwise, there is a risk of struggling to navigate the narrow alleyways and getting the wrong first impression.

When I booked the very first riad for our stay (which happened to be near some Marrakech secret locations), I had no clue that its location inside the Medina mattered. I thought that any part of the old city center was going to be easily accessible from anywhere and getting to our riad would not be a problem. But it actually was as Medina’s streets turned out to be very chaotic and complex with very limited car access.

So once the taxi driver dropped us off by the walls of the ancient quarter (he didn’t want to drive inside), we experienced a variety of shocks trying to navigate through the labyrinthine alleys full of people, animals, and market stalls.

Pulling the suitcase on cobbled streets where motorcycles and donkeys were a common sight proved to be a true test of both patience and agility. So eventually we gave up and asked a luggage carrier to help us transport luggage to our riad (as you can see below). This was adventurous and stressful at the same time (since we never carried suitcases in large hand-pulled trolleys before, ha).

transporting our luggage in Marrakech Medina
on the way to the riad in Marrakech

For many people (especially those who come to Morocco from Western world countries without traveling much) using a luggage carrier in Morocco’s medinas to get to accommodation can be quite stressful (it was for us even though we consider ourselves well-traveled).

So if you want to avoid this type of experience and just reach the riad with convenience, read descriptions of riads carefully and choose those ones that clearly say that their location is easily accessible and/or they provide transfers (if they do, it means they are really close to roads that are open to cars).

Examples of Riads (& Locations) That Have Easy Access to Both Main Streets & Famous Sights

  • Riad Aventurine – one of the riads where we personally stayed, although to get here, you need to arrange their transfer that will drop you off on the square where taxis are not allowed, only cars that have a special permit)
  • Riad Villa Sidi Baba – it is very close to the main road where also public buses drive. The location is excellent as it is close to some Marrakech hidden gems and the Kasbah neighborhood
  • Riad Mboja Chez Ali Baba – near Bab Doukkala main gate, next to a big food bazaar, close to Majorelle gardens and Gueliz modern neighborhood of Marrakech. It will be very easy to reach this riad (or others in this area) by both taxi and public transport

Remember That Staying in a Riad Does Not Guarantee Privacy

inner courtyard with a pool

This is what many people are not aware of when booking a riad in Marrakech thinking that it automatically means privacy and complete seclusion. Well, it actually does if you book a stay in Royal Mansour (here you book the whole riad for yourself with a private courtyard, pool, and different amenities) or a private riad like Alkemia holiday home.

However, for the most part, when staying in a riad, you share it with other people and sometimes see/hear them more than you’d like.

While riads with their traditional architecture offer a unique accommodation experience, their layout (constructed due to cultural tradition, climate adaptation, and practical reasons) always features inward-facing designs with rooms surrounding a central courtyard.

This means that windows and balconies face inward towards those courtyards instead of outward towards the street which is why sound travels more easily between rooms and communal spaces. Also in traditional riads, windows are often not equipped with modern soundproofing materials, which can contribute to the ease of hearing neighbors.

And that is why complete privacy might be elusive, and you may hear or see others from common areas such as courtyards or communal dining spaces and rooms (and they can see and hear you). It is easy enough to hear other people talk (even if they are quiet), take a shower, or even flush the toilet, not just behind the wall but also in other parts of the riad if windows or doors in the room stay open.

The original goal with such layouts was to guarantee privacy and security from the outside world but not from neighboring rooms within the riad itself as they were usually built as someone’s homes where a family lived.

So if you are looking for complete privacy and a very calm place, then riad can be hit or miss. Yet, if you are not very sensitive when it comes to sounds, choosing a riad for a stay in Marrakech will be one of the best experiences you’ll have in Morocco. 

It Also Doesn’t Guarantee Good WiFi

sitting in Riad in Marrakech
Inner courtyard of Riad Aventurine was probably my favorite place during our 3 nights there. It is one of the best riads in Marrakech with a pool

Another factor to keep in mind (if you need to work or study on your trip to Morocco) is that many riads in Marrakech Medina (and actually riads in old medinas all over Morocco) have poor or non-existent Wi-Fi. We stayed in 3 riads and visited 10+ more either to dine in or for their spa, and all had horrible wifi around the property.

When I started to ask questions to find out why, locals were telling me that it happens because most riads occupy historic buildings with thick walls that interfere with Wi-Fi signals. Infrastructure in certain areas of Medina also doesn’t support high-speed internet, leading to slower connections. And in the evening or early morning when many guests connect to the Wi-Fi at once, it strains the network resulting in very slow speed for everyone.

So if you plan to stay in a riad but will need good Internet, in advance purchase a local sim card with data (at the time of writing, 15GB costs around $10) or just embrace the opportunity to disconnect from the digital world and immerse yourself fully in the rhythms of Moroccan life.

Riads Are Ideal for Short Stays, Not Long Ones

choosing riad in Morocco
Morocco riad

I love riads. I honestly believe they are the best places where to stay in Marrakech (and many other Moroccan cities) on any trip (especially when visiting Morocco for the first time) to experience the authentic charm and cultural richness of this country firsthand.

However, they are not the right type of accommodation for long stays and it is better to choose them for short stays due to their limited space, amenities, and privacy compared to larger accommodations like hotels.

Many riads have small rooms together with tight communal areas that may feel cramped over an extended period. The lack of amenities such as gyms, good internet, and areas where to dine or work can become inconvenient for longer stays.

Additionally, the Medina itself can be quite overwhelming. When staying in a riad, most of the time only breakfast (sometimes dinner as well) is included. And you need to go out to find food. Chaotic streets of Medina with time become so tiring that the whole experience stops being authentic and enjoyable. 

If you plan to spend a week in Marrakech or longer, choose to stay in different riads or do a combo of riad and hotel stays.

Not All Expensive Marrakech Riads Offer Good Amenities

best riad in Fes
We stayed in many riads around Morocco, starting with a cheaper one and ending in a very luxurious one. But surprisingly, the best riad for us that we remember with all the warmth turned out to be Riad Dar S’Bah in Fes where we paid only $45 per night for two (booked through the app to get the discount) and for two nights even had the whole riad to ourselves! 

We had an interesting observation during our stays in different riads in Marrakech which showed that the higher price of the riad doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be better than a budget one.

Price is sometimes quite misleading in Morocco when it comes to amenities in riads and quality of accommodation.

Some higher-priced riads charge more because they focus more on luxurious decor and ambiance rather than providing extensive facilities and services, or even quality of the rooms. They prioritize aesthetics (with expensive furniture and design) and ambiance over practical features.

Like, for example, an overrated El Fenn Hotel (where we considered staying but eventually just came to spend some time on a rooftop), a 4-star hotel with lavish decor and style but poor service, bad Internet, and not very clean property. 

At the same time, more budget-friendly riads (like Riad Azawan for instance where our friends stayed) prioritize practical amenities over lavish features. Our friends here had big breakfasts, excellent Internet, were in a good location, and had the same size and quality of the room as we did in a more expensive riad (but we didn’t have Internet and breakfast), but they paid 3 times less.

So it is all relative when it comes to riads. Best riads in Marrakech can be quite affordable in excellent locations. 

I highly recommend you read carefully all comments under each riad and research each riad’s amenities to determine whether they meet your expectations.

Riads in Marrakech Are the Most Expensive Among All Riads in Morocco

Moroccan traditional residence
entrance into the riad

If you are traveling on a budget and need to find a budget riad (or cheap luxury riad maybe even with a pool), then your best bet is to choose a riad in Morocco’s other cities.

Riads in Marrakech are the most expensive ones among all riads in the country. Some have their own pools and even spas with hammams, others are small family-like houses. Yet, they all are the most expensive compared to the whole country.

Best budget riads in Morocco are in Fes (speaking from personal experience) where you can pay as little as $50 per room for 2 with breakfast and feel like part of a royal family. Examples of such riads are Riad Farah near the palace where the king of Morocco lived and Riad Dar Kirami (even cheaper one).

But these are not your only options. Other places where to find and stay in beautiful riads in Morocco are Tangier, Casablanca, Essaouira, and one of my favorites Ouarzazate, a ‘gateway to the Desert’ famous for UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou and filming locations of numerous movies including Gladiator and Game of Thrones. 

Looking for the Best Riad in Marrakech?

There are actually many riads in Marrakech Medina that are considered excellent or ‘simply the best’ as they excel in providing a unique blend of traditional Moroccan architecture, authentic hospitality, and modern comforts.

I hope my tips above will help you find an excellent riad in Marrakech for your needs and budget but here are a few more ideas that meet the price-quality ratio. I saved them for myself a long time ago:

Riad Dar Saad

A luxurious 4-star Riad for mid-budget that encapsulates the richness of Moroccan culture, serenity, and artisanal skill, providing a cozy entrance to the core of heritage and extravagance

Riad Kbour & Chou

The most peaceful Riad in the northwestern corner of Medina with the fusion of Moroccan tradition and modern elegance, evoking the atmosphere of the beginning of the 20th century. It has one of the best rooftop terraces with sweeping views of Marrakech

Riad Dar Kawa

Built in the XVII century. Belgian architect and designer Quentin Wilbaux worked on its restoration, preserving Riad’s original appearance. The warm color scheme and natural materials make this design hotel in the heart of the Medina one of the most tranquil locations in Marrakech

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