Riads in Morocco
Morocco family package New York

A first time visitor to Morocco is usually puzzled by the word riad. What is a riad?

A Riad is a Moroccan traditional house. The word comes from the Arabic term for garden. Riads are located inside the walled Medinas of Morocco’s larger cities. They were built centuries ago from large blocks of stone and/or clay. They were owned by the wealthy, who may have been merchants or courtiers.

Riads are known as small palaces and are constructed as such. There are few external windows and, therefore, they can be built right next to each other creating interconnected buildings and narrow passageways. Interior windows face inward creating a private and protected environment.

Riads were not built for tourists but for families. But as these old houses started to crumble and tourism grew, some saw an opportunity to turn these old masterpieces into unique guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts.

They were renovated and restored to their former glory, using Zellige tiles and Moucharbi wood carving. The labor intensive technique of waterproof plastering known as Tadelakt was used extensively in the restoration of the riads leading to a resurgence in its use.

Sometimes people interchange the word Riad with Dar. The basic difference is that a Riad has an interior garden while a Dar has a courtyard. The layout is generally the same. Both a Riad and a Dar can vary in price depending on the location, the size of the rooms and the services provided. They range in quality from 3 star to 5 star plus.

Most riads are open at the top, allowing sunlight in and fresh air to circulate. Guests have access to the roof for the sun as well as incredible views of the Medina. Each riad has a restaurant and most have a spa. Riads are always locked at night and access can be obtained by ringing the front doorbell.

No two riads are alike. The architecture, the interior design and the style differs from riad to riad. Staying in one will give you an opportunity to experience a place that is uniquely Moroccan.

Courtyard of the Riad

A Suite in a traditional Riad


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