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To step into a riad is to step into a time capsule. Immediately the air cools, the noise of the streets fades away and you’re absorbed into a little historic haven, an oasis of calm in the midst of a whirlwind city like Marrakech.
Riads are aristocratic townhouses, shaped around a central courtyard where temperature-lowering fountains tinkle and the chaos of the streets cannot penetrate.
It’s easy to imagine the wealthy families who would once have lived here, shuffling around in upturned babouche slippers, chatting softly and sipping sweet mint tea from tiny glasses.
Riad roof terrace
Today, these beautiful buildings are an effortless ‘in’ to Moroccan culture. It’s hard to imagine a better breakfast than tearing apart freshly baked msemen, a thick square pancake best lavished with honey or jam, accompanied by freshly squeezed orange juice.
It’s usually served either on a rooftop terrace, where you can watch the city wake up, or in the central courtyard surrounded by tiled walls with intricate geometric designs, created by artisans in the surrounding souks. Riads are always in the Medina, so you’re at the heart of the city.
Central courtyard of a riad
Then it is off to the souk with you, to meander the tall, thin streets bustling with people, to buy colourful trinkets and barter with locals, to become hopelessly lost and find surprising little courtyards, to visit the tombs and palaces of medieval royalty or to wander the seafront.
View all of our cultural Morocco tours below and plan your stay in a riad.