This sublime city has two facets. On one side, the Palmeraie whose clear lights slide to the Atlas. The Medina, a city of shadows and hidden corners, hidden behind its ramparts. Here, we’ll discover the best riads and palaces in Marrakech.
The breath of tradition continues to inspire the Medina, a millennial enclave protected by walls of ocher earth. It is there that the souk, the workshops of craftsmen, the public baths, the small mosques are… All, pressed along dark alleys invariably crowded. The riad is the traditional home of the medina. Officially, more than 500 of them have been converted into hotels. In truth, more than double. This is to say that the quality of these establishments which offer at most a dozen rooms arranged around an interior courtyard is random. Advantage: the charm of a real house, in contact with the life of the souk, accessible prices and a shared conviviality on the roof terrace where it is good to count the stars while forgetting the emergencies of the day. Disadvantage: small rooms that open onto the central patio and not onto the street.
Best Riads in Marrakech
La Maison Arabe
• Some of these riads are references. La Maison Arabe, for example, a very chic forerunner of the genre. 26 rooms of pure elegance, including several suites with balconies, orchestrated by an authentic Italian prince, passionate about Marrakech. Refined traditional decoration. Rare swimming pool in these places and renowned restaurants.
Around 200 ¤ per night, tel .: 00 212 524 38 70 10 and www.lamaisonarabe.com
• Original initiative, that of the Angsana riads: these are six addresses grouped under the same hotel brand of Asian origin, renowned for its very high-level service. Each has been restored according to tradition with the best craftsmen in the kingdom. All of the houses less than 10 rooms, which tells of the privacy and discretion of these houses, all in a delicate atmosphere. The pleasure of the superbly furnished roof terrace as a bonus. Several also have a spa. Chic atmosphere and guaranteed charm.
Around ¤ 250 a night, tel: 00 212 524 38 89 05 and www.riads-angsana.fr
• The tour operator Voyageurs du Monde set its sights on the red city by becoming the owner of Villa Nomade, a riad with 12 rooms and suites on two levels, with a shared terrace. The decor is pure Moroccan style.
Around ¤200, tel .: 0 892 23 73 73 and www.vdm.com
• Those who want to combine local spirit with the breath of the day aim for Riad Cocoon. 5 rooms whose names tell of the rock passion of the designers: Nirvana (private terrace), Purple Haze (purple is in the spotlight), White Album, etc. Each has its dedicated music. Decoration mixing objects found in Asia and the know-how of the craftsmen of Marrakech.
From 180 ¤, double for the continuation, tel: 00 212 524 38 60 62 and www.riadcocoon.com
• Very chic and made up of 7 suites (35 to 45 m²), the Riad Joya is a kind of boutique hotel in Marrakech. It just opened. Its decoration reviews all the civilizations that have crossed paths here, Berbers, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs … Hence the juxtaposition of furniture and architecture that shake uptime.
From ¤200, tel .: 00 212 661 05 16 76 and www.riadjoya.com
• Let us also remember the Riad Flam. It is run by a French woman who has named her 8 small rooms with a precious name (ruby, pearl, ivory, jade, etc.). The decoration is of an orientalist spirit enhanced by the work of Moroccan sculptors, painters and other specialists in mosaics. Note a wall cascade of the best effect and a mini spa.
From ¤ 125 and up to ¤ 210, tel: 00 212 524 44 01 01 and www.riadflam.com
Best Palaces in Marrakech
In addition to the pure juice riads, several palaces shine at the gates of the Medina.
• First of all, La Mamounia, the famous get meeting. A 5 ha garden with 136 rooms and 71 suites. Jacques Garcia signed the decoration. The table is overseen by Jean-Pierre Vigato (2-star in Paris) who has just installed a “bistronomic” menu there. Add a legendary bar, a spa, a large swimming pool … To see and be seen.
From ¤600 a night, tel: 00 212 524 38 86 00 and www.mamounia.com
• Neighbor of the previous one, the Royal Mansour magnifies the Moroccan tradition. It is made up of 53 three-level riads (one to three bedrooms to choose from) with a private terrace and mini-pool. Each unit is served by a butler. The most remarkable thing is that this hotel was made by the elite of the craftsmen of the kingdom. Do not miss the reception lounges, even less the bar, a marvel, as well as the exceptional spa. Service in white gloves and Yannick Alleno (3-star in Paris) à la carte. For those who demand a real hiding place, safe from everything.
From ¤ 1,500, tel .: 00 212 529 80 80 80 and www.royalmansour.ma
Villa des Orangers
• Intimate register at La Villa des Orangers. Its surprisingly discreet portal boasts the Relais & Châteaux plaque. The house, 27 rooms including 21 suites, is built around a swimming pool, its beating heart. Rightly rated restaurant. Ideal for living chic away from all bling-bling.
Around 400 ¤, tel .: 00 212 524 38 46 38 and www.villadesorangers.com
The Es-Saadi Palace is the least famous of these establishments located near the ramparts. It is unfair. Because his arguments are numerous. The hotel is a veritable art gallery with more than 400 works on permanent display. Thanks to its owners, the Bauchet-Bouhlal family, each autumn it is a major player in the Marrakech Art Fair. In addition, an 8-hectare park, a 2,400 m² swimming pool (the largest in the city), 135 rooms, 15 suites and 10 themed villas, 5 restaurants, a Dior branded spa, a casino, a club, etc. it is very difficult to leave this palace.
From 215 to 500 ¤ depending on the standing of the room, tel .: 00 212 524 44 88 11 and www.essaadi.com
• Impossible not to mention the Club Med La Médina directly open on Djema’a el-Fna square and the entrance to the souk. It is part of local history. It houses 207 rooms and suites, as well as a Cinq Mondes SPA. Big argument: its GM can go by shuttle to the other village of the Club, in the Palmeraie, to take advantage of its facilities.
Count around ¤ 1,500 per week, tel .: 08 200 200 08 and www.clubmed.fr
• As for the Naoura Barrière, 85 rooms, and 26 riads, it carries the soul of the Barrière group (Royal and Normandy in Deauville, Fouquet’s in Paris, etc.). Modern decoration and cocoon architecture around the pool. The restaurant, obviously called Fouquet’s, takes up the cinema style of its elder. A spa and a kids’ club complete the amenity.
Around 300 ¤ per night, tel .: 00 212 524 45 90 00 and www.lucienbarriere.com
Sofitel Marrakech Palais Impérial
• The Sofitel Marrakech Palais Impérial (Accor) has just been completely renovated. Its two pavilions located between gardens and swimming pool house more than 200 rooms, three restaurants, and a spa often designated as one of the best in the city. To combine the charm of Morocco with French know-how.
From ¤200 per night, tel .: 00 212 524 42 56 00 and www.sofitel.com