Where to stay in Marrakech
A mixture of sensuous luxury and aesthetic simplicity, the historic Moroccan city of Marrakech attracts visitors from all corners of the world. The ‘red city’ boasts a mix of chic boutique hotels than possibly anywhere else in the world and the multitude tradition raids, luxury hotels and spa resorts is unsurpassed. Herein lies the problem for the first time visitor, where to stay?
The BBG strongly promote the riads in the Medina of Marrakech, many of which are British owned. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard. The word ‘riad’ comes from the Arabian term for garden, “ryad”. An important element of the design was Islamic notions of privacy for women inside residential gardens.
Historically riads were inwardly focused, which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This approach was expressed in the central location of most of the interior gardens and courtyards and the lack of large windows on the exterior clay or mud brick walls. This design principle lay comfortably with the Islamic notions of privacy, and hijab for women. Entrance to these houses is through a modest door which belies the beauty within. All of the rooms open into the central courtyard space. In the central garden of traditional riads there are often four orange or lemon trees and possibly a fountain. The walls of the riads are decorated with tadelakt plaster and zellige tiles, usually with Arabic calligraphy and with quotes from the Quran.
Many of these riads fell into disrepair during the French occupation but in modern times have been restored and, in turn, have breathed life into the Medina.The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Many riads are now used as hotels or restaurants. The British community is proud to have played its part in restoring the medina to its former glory making it fit for pupose to welcome visitors from overseas.
For an authentic stay in Marrakech to experience the real culture this is the place to stay. Most Riads have between 5 to 10 roomes, are intimate with superb service. Staff will always be on hand to guide you through the maze of the Medina and advise on meaningful activities to enjoy. The Medina may seem a little daunting for the first time visitor but this is the place to see Moroccan city life. Much of the Medina is still medieval so much so that you have the rare opportunity to experience life as it was with the luxury of returning to the comfort of a traditional town house updated to modern standards with the facilities you would expect from a good hotel.
What to expect from a boutique hotel requires no explanation for the tourist abroad save to say that you can experience the very best of what such a hotel can offer in Marrakech. Such hotels can be found in the old city, the Medina, and in the new city – the choice is yours. That could be a good choice so long as you venture out to see the city and experience the Medina.
This type of hotel offers the facilities of a regular hotel with a more intimate feel reminiscent of a riad. Many converted riads are listed as boutique hotels and are recommended by the BBG. See our business section for more information.
Most good hotels in Marrakech incorporate a spa which is a welcome edition in the Moroccan climate. When it comes to making a choice the old adage remains, you get what you pay for! The luxury hotels are of a very high standard whilst the modestly priced hotels can be very basic. Many holidaymakers are opting instead for a hotel outside the centre, with more space and facilities than the traditional riads, making forays to the medina by day.
The BBG is very concerned about the growing trend whereby visitors are encouraged to take an all inclusive holiday in a large hotel and led to believe that it is only safe to remain in the hotel and not to venture out! Such an approach is a nonsense not good for Marrakech and does no more than encourage the traveller to spend whatever holiday money they have within the hotel chain. Marrakech is a vibrant city and to miss the experience of witnessing what the magical culture has to offer means that you have not really visited Marrakech!
The opportunity to stay in a luxury tent along the coast of Morocco or in the desert itself is a growing trend for visitors. A refuge can offer an oasis of calm in the heat of a desert or the expanse of the sea. Peace is often found in the most unlikely of places. Many retreats offer extras such as yoga and are good for the soul if you want to escape the frenetic day to day life in the UK for a week or two.
There are many such holidays on offer but we encourage you to visit our business section where you will discover a little more about some retreats that are organised by members of our community here in Marrakech.