What is a Riad?

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You’re organizing a trip to Morocco. You look at the most suitable ways to get from your city (plane, boat, ferry, bus, by car). You decide your destinations in that country: Marrakech? Meknes? Rabat? Fez? And when you get to the accommodation chapter, there is the possibility of sleeping in a hotel or in a… riad. What’s a riad?

First of all, I will say that for me, it is the first choice of accommodation if you are looking for a special place, with a strong local colour and good standards of service.

Not to disparage Moroccan hotels, but generally speaking and except for the hotels of international chains, local hotels are old-fashioned and their stars “shine less”. Let’s say that a Moroccan 4 star would be the equivalent of a European 3 star, and that it lacks a “facelift”.

Riads are small buildings with a few rooms, usually 5 or 6, which are run by the owners of the establishment. In recent times, many Europeans have settled in Morocco and run their own riad giving them a European touch especially in service.

But what is most striking about riads is the building itself. They maintain the structure of old mansions, with a central patio where water is always present. Arab character of a delicate and ornate architecture, with fountains, cisterns or water channels in the heart of the house.

Walls decorated with bright colors, themed rooms different from each other and the personalized attention of the riad owners in contact with their guests.

They are available in different categories (and prices). Also,riads where you are transported to the heart of Morocco with its colors, mosaics and textures and others with a special care in the design and decoration with touches clearly minimal. Travelers from all over the world find in the raids not only an alternative of accommodation, but also a way to approach the Moroccan culture and a place of peace.

Many riads offer meals, at least breakfast, based on the delicious Moroccan cuisine. You will also find many with additional services such as a hammams, terraces, or Turkish baths. So, it is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere with European standards of accommodation.

Those of us who prefer to sleep in raids do so because we find much more than a clean and comfortable bed there. The atmosphere is very relaxed, with space and time to enjoy a good mint tea while listening to the water from the fountain.

And if anything is missing, the atmosphere of the staff and guests is much more international than in the local hotels. Good time to meet interesting people from all over the world and share anecdotes and experiences.

Next time you are looking for accommodation in Morocco, if you have the possibility to sleep in a riad don’t think twice about it.

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