Well-travelled people do seek unique ways to genuinely experience the country they choose to visit and be immersed in its culture and way of life. The best introduction to such a journey is the Moroccan unique style of guesthouses known as Riad.
A Riad is a manor house that belonged to the nobility of the old days and that is fitted out and equipped to suit the needs of contemporary travelers. It smoothly combines the traditional elating art of living with the modern amenities and appliances. The magic of a Riad lies in its architectural authenticity and, above all, its location. It is part of the local socio-cultural environment as it is part of the urban mesh of the ancient walled in city called medina.
This so trendy style of accommodation started twenty years ago when the son of the Roman Princess Di Ruspoli turned his mother’s Riad in Marrakesh into a guesthouse that he called La Maison Arabe. Almost simultaneously, Guérand Hermes and Pierre Balmain had their houses also refitted for the same purpose. Soon, thanks to both to the fame and connections of their owners as well as the success of these marvelously achieved makeovers, jet-setters became fond of this cozy, exclusive, and intimate style of accommodation. It provided all the benefits and pleasures of staying in a luxury hotel with the feeling of being in your own home. The craze for Riads launched the opening of a number of luxurious ones first inside the medina and throughout the exotic Palmeraie of Marrakesh. Later, gradually upscale guesthouses started opening in most of the country’s historical cities whose ancient architectural heritage provides such hidden treasures as those magnificent Riads that for some date back to the 18th century.
We do not aim to name and describe all of these Riads as, like in haute-couture, they are all one of a kind. Yet, we can not resist the temptation of mentioning the most outstanding ones in different areas of the country. They all come with their spas, and additional varied services:
In Marrakesh : inside the medina: Riad La Sultana, Les Jardins de la Medina, Villa des Orangers, Vanessa Branson’s Riad Elfenn, Villa Nomade… or outside the medina : Dar Ghizlane, Ksar Charbakh, Palais Elghoul….
In Fes : La Maison Bleue is a landmark, but Riad Fes is also a gem.
In Rabat : Villa Mandarine has become the visiting diplomats’ favorite spot.
In Essaouira: Villa Maroc and l’Orange Bleue stand out amongst many gorgeous places.
Dar Ahlam in the Skoura oasis near Ouarzazate is an exclusive luxurious hideout for film and music stars.