This is the list of small, stylish, independent, not-too-expensive, down-to-earth riads with the authentic character I wish I’d found when I was researching where to stay in Marrakech. I knew I wanted to stay in the old walled Medina in the centre of the city. But, the choice is overwhelming, and I struggled to find a round-up I could relate to. The ones I found were either too luxurious, high-end and overpriced, or well-priced but too popular with the Instagram crowd, too close to Djemaa El Fna square, in an unsafe area or too cheap and run down and uncared for.
So, to save you the bother of endless research, here’s my curated list of small, stylish and independently-run riads in Marrakech all under £150/night for your next trip to the Moroccan city.
1 Riad Le J, Mouassine, from €78/night including breakfast. This tiny riad is an adventure to find, buried in the heart of the medina, behind the Mouassine mosque in the former Jewish area of Mouassine. It’s owned, run and made beautiful by an Italian couple, both former furniture designers with an eye for simple fresh details and a passion for original details, many of which they kept and preserved – like painted ceilings and carved balconies – when they renovated the building.
The decor is described as French colonial – think dark-wood antique furniture, white walls, framed black-and-white photographs. There are four rooms – each named after a herb in French – and an airy lounge you could move into. The house manager is an amazing concierge too, helps organise cookery lessons or leads you to dinner bookings down medina alleys. Slightly small bathrooms and no pool.
Check into Riad Le J here.
2 Darr Rbaa Laroub, Moussine, from €70/night. This is where we stayed on our trip to Marrakech, which I chose for its time-weathered authentic charm. It’s 30 years in the making by a French man called Jean-Noel who also lives here, and one of the earliest guesthouses to have opened in the medina. Like nearby Riad Le Ja above, Darr Rbaa Larounb is an adventure to find hidden deep within the Mouassine neighbourhood.
There are seven rooms across two floors, each with fireplaces, which are lit each night upon your return from dinner. One of my favourite parts about this riad is the roof terrace filled with nooks, hundreds of cacti and clouds of bougainvillaea, you have to experience it to believe it. There’s no pool but who cares?
Take a tour of and check into Dar Rbaa Laroub here.
3 Le Riad Atelier, Kâat Benahid, from €100/night. Considering this boutique riad’s high-end looks, it’s reasonably priced. It’s also interesting to me as it’s set in a restored travellers’ inn and located in the oldest and least touristy neighbourhood of Marrakech, near two little-known museums, the Maison de la Photographie and the quirky Marrakech Museum, both of which make a great escape from the tanneries nearby which can be overpowering.
There are five rooms to choose from, each styled simply and impeccably with a tranquil neutral decor I only have to look at to feel relaxed. Rooms also have deep soaking tubs and rain showers. Elsewhere in the riad, there’s a cosy roof terrace, a pool and a courtyard filled with nooks.
Check into Le Riad Atelier here.
4 Riad Jardin Secret, Bab Doukkala, from €150/night. This riad is another in this selection I was drawn to as a place for lounging. It looks dangerously easy to spend hours sitting on the roof terrace in a nook reading a book all day long. It’s run by a friendly French couple called Cyrielle and Julien, both artists, who renovated the building sensitively and with sustainability in mind, using as few materials as possible, forgoing the pool and hammam, and decorating it with time-worn vintage local finds. They also didn’t install TVs or air-conditioning for the full anti-modern effect.
There are seven rooms ranging in size, they serve delicious-sounding organic feasts for breakfast and vegan/vegetarian dishes for lunch which is rare for Marrakech. They welcome artists in residence throughout the year and consider applications spanning all creative spheres. In fact, there’s also a shop in one of the rooms where you can buy owner Cyrielle’s photographs.
Check into Riad Jardin Secret here.
5 Dar Housnia, Kâat Benahid, from €160/night. Another gem in the untouristy area of Kaat Benahid away from the crazy square. It’s different from the others in this list in that its decor is more traditional, mixing Arabo-Andalucian styles. It has four rooms, and an exclusive douiria which I guess we’d call a suite, with two rooms, including a private terrace and a lounge. There’s also a terrace swimming pool, unique in Marrakech, a traditional hammam and a massage room, and a roof terrace overlooking the medina.
Check into Dar Housnia here.