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When choosing my accommodation for a trip to Morocco last year I was blown away by the choice. With hundreds of budget riads, luxury riads, hotels and even whole villas to choose from I just didn’t know where to start. Especially given that they all looked amazing.
Far from a standard room that could be anywhere in the world, riads in Morocco are what you picture when you think of ‘Moroccan’. There are funky lights, ornate tapestries and gorgeous terraces with cushions and tented areas to keep you cool, plus there’s always a friendly member on staff waiting to serve you some fresh mint tea!
Given the variety of options of places to stay in Morocco, the hard part wasn’t finding somewhere nice, it was whittling down the options. Fortunately there’s a few things I learnt to look out for and take into account, particularly for a trip to Marrakech, that should help you decide too.
Marrakech can be split into two distinct areas: inside the Medina or outside the Medina. The Medina is the old part of Marrakech. It’s all winding, narrow streets full of people and market stalls, behind many a wooden door is a luxurious, calming riad which feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the Medina.
Outside the Medina walls is the newer part of Marrakech. Here you’ll find an abundance of shops and some luxury villas. There’s more space for the hotels so many of them have swimming pools or even a golf course!
If you’re after a relaxing break with a few days beside the pool then opt for the luxury villas outside the Medina. If you want to be close to the heart of the action then look for a riad inside the Medina.
Standard riad rooms within the Medina are pretty tiny, but then again how much time will you be spending there anyway? If you spend a few more dirhams per night then you’ll get larger rooms with ensuites and perhaps a sofa on which to put your feet up on at the end of the day.
When it comes to riads, it’s best to try and get a room on the first floor or upper terrace. The ground floor rooms are often a bit noisier as they’re where people will be catching up on the day’s adventures with a mint tea, taking breakfast in the morning, or getting up early to head to the airport.
As you’d expect, heading outside of the Medina and to one of the luxury hotels or luxury villas in Marrakech you’ll get much more space. Many of the luxury villas and hotels in Marrakech look almost palatial! So again, consider what you’re visiting the city for.
Whatever you’re main reason for visiting Marrakech is, you’ll probably want to spend some time catching up on your reading in the sunshine whilst enjoying some Moroccan pastries.
For this reason, look for a riad that has a comfy roof terrace. Many riads in Marrakech come with sunbeds and sofas stacked high with cushions. These are far more comfier than the more traditional looking wrought iron seats.
Some riads in Marrakech will have dipping pools (normally in the reception area). You can’t really swim in these but you can, as the name suggests, sit on the edge and cool your feet off.
If being able to cool off from the Moroccan sunshine with a swim is important to you then you’re in luck. Many of the bigger hotels and villas outside of the medina will have a pool. (might be worth adding in a link for the villas on this bit if you can-it’s a strong call to action).For those of you travelling with friends take a look to see if the accommodation has an outdoor entertaining area or gardens to relax in.
Whereas in many European hotels you pay extra for breakfast, breakfast is included in the price of most Marrakech riads. It’s worth checking this is the case though as you definitely don’t want to miss out on a Moroccan breakfast!
Miles apart from the bread and jam, stale croissant or coco pops of European hostels and hotels, the Moroccans know how to put on a good spread.
During my stay I enjoyed pancakes, eggs, bread, spreads and hams for breakfast with some deliciously strong coffee.
The more luxurious riads and villas in Marrakech will also offer the option of lunch and dinner. This way you can feast on authentic, home cooked tagines without having to head out for the evening and navigate your way back through the maze of streets in the medina.