Morocco Riad 101: Finding the Ideal Riad

Morocco Riad 101

Finding the Ideal Riad

When it comes to choosing the perfect Riad there are lots of things to consider. Here’s the list of my points of consideration, this is also the way I chose the Riads for you which I will be representing to you, putting them in various tourist categories too.

So, let’s see my main areas when it comes to choosing:

  1. A Riad's Location

Well, location is a Nr. Factor when it comes to choosing the perfect place to stay for you. In case of Riads they have the lucky quality that they are located in the Medina, which means they are pretty much where all the action is, some a little bit further, some closer but more or less all are in a walking distance from the attractions you would like to visit. Especially when it comes to Fez and Marrakech.

  1. A Riad's rates

Well, price is a very important factor let’s be honest about that. Some places are asking surreal prices for the services they offer and if I see it doesn’t make sense, because I could find a place for less than half the price with the same or almost the same services then I have no reason to choose the more expensive one. Unfortunately due to a trend, all the Riads which are being written about by the Western media happen to be also the most expensive ones. My advice is to visit the biggest travel sites, such as TripAdvisor, booking, lonely planet where you can get to learn about the place, view hundreds of photos and most importantly lots of reviews. Let reviews always be the key to you choosing a place.

  1. The purpose of your travel in Morocco

This is also very important. Are you travelling alone and only need a cozy and cheap bed and breakfast and a good hub for your explorations? Or are you travelling with your partner and you wish to have a place where you can also spend plenty of pleasant time together? These reasons make up for very different expectations altogether. Also first time tourists always get to choose a place which looks more authentic and age factors also do count ( remember most Riads have no elevators).

  1. The style of the place
    1. Riad or a Dar?

This counts a lot because a Dar is often called a Riad for touristic reasons but in real Dars are much smaller, therefore offer much less than a Riad would do.

    1. Lightness of the rooms
Dars which are smaller also have smaller rooms (the room count is often forced which makes pretty small rooms) and often Dars also have much darker rooms. I personally prefer lighter and more spacious rooms and therefore I’m looking for that.

    1.  Overall style
There are numerous specific tourist- Riads for travelers (mostly for Americans I must say) which are much exaggerated. The heavy use of dark wood paired up with dark colors creates less space visually and it’s just a sensory overload. I don’t like those type of Riads. The other style is the Western style (often bought by Westerners) where the style is way out of line for a Moroccan Riad. I like the places where East and West is in a good, pleasant balance, where you feel good. I will serve you a couple of examples on that in my upcoming representation of Riads which I personally like.

Riad Poolside
I do love swimming pools!

    1. Overall atmosphere
This depends on many factors, but some Riads are just too small, too crowded, too heavily decorated which makes me unpleasant. Most of the time, looking at enough number of photos, will already help you to create an overall impression of the place. If I browse through the pics of a specific Riad, I always listen to what my inner voice tells me, what I feel when looking at those photos. And if it turns out I feel unpleasant or I feel nothing, then I will not choose that place for sure.

  1. Amenities and services
It’s very important to see what a place has to offer. Luckily almost every Riad today offers two basic services for its guests: Free Wi-Fi and air conditioning. But of course there is much more to that, depending on your purpose of travel. So look around wisely and check for all the amenities, services and read plenty of reviews on how these services are provided.

  1. Food pics!!!
The food you eat is very important when it comes to an overall travel experience. Riads especially are supposed to provide locally made, great food, it’s been said, that if you are a tourist this is the closest you can ever get to home-made cuisine. That’s exactly why it’s so important to actually concentrate on the exact meals and ways of cooking a Riad (Dar) has to offer. I personally instantly prefer those Riads which post photos of their meals: this means they are proud of their cooking and that they do prepare the dishes. Now, the new –age Western style Riads unfortunately employ expensive chefs and offer these artistic miniature dishes which will do nothing for most of us. So, give preference to the places who do post photos of their own dishes.

Moroccan breakfast
Traditional Morocan breakfast

  1. The extras
    1. Swimming pool
I personally love swimming pools (and fishponds and fountains) no matter what size they are and I believe plenty of water always gives a good, pleasant feeling to a place, therefore I generally look for places which have a pool no matter how small it should be. Be aware though that not all pools you see are for swimming and not all pools are for getting in them at all. So always make sure of that before climbing in one. New or renovated Riads often have a swimming pool implemented in the rooftop terrace and I think this is a great idea! Some others have a Jacuzzi on the rooftop which is great (but it’s likely ALWAYS be occupied by others, based also on personal experience). So rather go for a place which has more pools, swimming pools, Jacuzzi, where you actually have a choice which one to choose from. Again this all depends on the type of traveler you are.

    1. Patio and courtyard
Riad Malika
Riad Malika - Another fabulous courtyard I personally love
Patios are great, so are courtyards. It’s great to have some rest after a long day of walking around, either privately or in company. Therefore it’s best to check for a place which gives you the choice for both. In small Dars you can’t really get away and let’s be honest, talking and communication and making friends is great but not all the time. Sometimes you just want to sit down or lie down, enjoy the breeze or shadow, read something and have the chance to privately dose off if you prefer to and people would leave you alone. So, best places are which offer you both these choices in my humble opinion and luckily in most cases, the photos of a place will give you a pretty good clue as to what chances are for you to just relax when you are there.

Riad Villa des Orangiers
Riad Villa des Orangiers - French owned Riad in Marrakech

    1. Rooftop terrace
I love rooftop terraces in Morocco. They offer fresh breeze, they are just fantastic in the evening and at night, you can walk around, check out all the rooftops, check out the streets, see how life goes on the outside and also can make great photos of the nearby mosques, if you are that lucky you can even catch glimpse of a bigger one like the Koutubia in Marrakech. If you are close to the Jamaa El F’na you can even hear all the crowd, the music and everything that goes on and this is a great feeling, an important part of a cultural excursion in my opinion. As I said above, there are Riads which even put Jacuzzis and swimming pools on the rooftop terrace, while others hold it as a place to serve their meals. Luckily all Riads and most Dars all have a bigger or smaller rooftop terrace and if you feel you would love to spend some time in the Riad you are staying at, I’d definitely suggest you to check out how does that Riad’s rooftop terrace look like, what feel does it give to you.

Riad Rooftop terrace
Quality terrace counts a lot when it comes to a good quality Riad

  1. The quality of photos of a Riad ( Dar)
I like good quality photos and I like meaningful photos. If a Riad posts 20 photos of the same room ( or bathroom) all made from different direction I would start to feel suspicious as to why. If I see meaningless or false artistic photos I would become suspicious why. If you cannot create a good, meaningful impression of a place based on about max 20 photos, then it means something is off with that place and they don’t want you to see some things. The overall quality is also very important for me. I think if you are serious about your place, then at the very least you bring in a professional photographer to make 20 good photos of your place.

Riad les Yeux Bleus Marakech
Another beautiful Riad - Riad les Yeux Bleus one of the most popular Riads in Marrakech and takes high care of the quality of their photos. 

  1. The difficulty of the big numbers
There are hundreds of Riads in the big cities such as Marrakech and Fez. It makes choosing extremely difficult. So you need to build up your search according to your core expectations. I generally like to straight –out limit down the number places per price and per location, this will bring you much more positive results.

  1. Resist the power of the advertisements
Ok, so you have fallen in love with a very expensive Riad ( you don’t even know it’s very expensive because you don’t yet have the search experience in finding the right place for you) and that’s where you would love to go. Don’t let advertisements limit you though. There are numerous lovely Riads out there, some of which offer bed and breakfast or half-board for only a fragment of the price! And with no worse quality. That’s the beauty of the Riads that there is just so many of them offering more or less the same thing, but you cannot create price ranges like in the case of a hotel.

I hope you guys liked this article and please comment, ask, say, let me know what you would like to know about Morocco, what your interests are so that I can write about them. 

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Thank you and enjoy!