Room rates are the highest in Morocco, but Marrakesh has it all: you can sleep anywhere from the funkiest fleapit to palaces straight out of some North African Hollywood fantasy. Booking ahead is crucial for medina riads because of the limited number of rooms.


Paris has its cathedrals, New York its skyscrapers, but riads are what set Marrakesh apart. These spectacular mud-brick courtyard mansions are oases of calm in the bustling medina: push through the brass-studded ancient door and you’ll find yourself listening to songbirds, ice clinking in drinks and your own thoughts – suddenly, Marrakesh’s balance of extremes makes perfect sense.

Over the past decade, hundreds of these historic family homes have been sold and reinvented as guesthouses, mainly by Europeans. The best are not just marvels of the Marrakshi tradition of craftsmanship – which guesthouses helped revive – but unforgettable experiences of Marrakshi hospitality, complete with insights into the local culture and shifting social mores, home-cooked meals and prime opportunities for relaxation and cultural immersion. Staying in a riad isn’t just about sleeping in posh digs; it’s about gaining an understanding of Marrakesh behind those studded doors.