Marrakesh’s hotel scene is constantly changing – helped by more than 1,000 riad hotels squeezed in among the narrow alleyways and souks of the Medina neighbourhood. These mini-Edens – all with a central courtyard garden (where the word “riad” comes from) – have been mushrooming in the Medina, veering between simplicity and no-holds-barred luxury. Then there’s the Ville Nouvelle and the lush palm groves of La Palmeraie north of the city, if you’re looking for something a bit further away from the action.
So to make the choice easier, here’s a pick of 10 of the best hotels in Marrakesh.
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Best for French flair: Riad de Tarabel
A touch of France mingles with Morocco in this classy riad near Dar El Bacha palace. Its French owners converted this colonial-style seriems of houses into a place of true serenity, with orange trees keeping things cool in the central courtyard. The 10 rooms are filled with antiques and calming shades of dusty blue, grey and cream, and lead out into Venetian-style salons. There’s a rooftop plunge pool as well as a spa and a larger pool in a separate courtyard.
Doubles from €210 (£182), including breakfast and airport transfers
Best for laid-back charm: Riad El Mezouar
Amid the squawking chickens and tiny food shops in the less touristy, eastern part of the Medina known as Issebtinne, Riad El Mezouar offers peace and relaxation within this 17th-century former palace. Its British owner used local materials and craftsmen to renovate the five bedrooms, including traditional hand-cut tiles and Moroccan tadelakt plastering. Cool off in the central swimming pool or chill out on the rooftop terrace. Book in advance if you want lunch or dinner.
Doubles from €130 (£115), including breakfast
Best for families: Es Saadi Marrakesh Resort
If the interior of Es Saadi looks familiar, that’s because it stood in for the Cairo luxury hotel in the BBC’s adaptation of The Night Manager. This sprawling resort includes the wonderfully opulent Le Palace, the more conventional L’Hotel and some seriously luxurious villas and ksars (Berber-style mini-castles). They all cluster around a fantasy land of exotic gardens, lagoons, swimming pools, children’s play areas and Marrakesh’s first casino. Then there are the eight restaurants, four bars, spa, nightclub and boutiques.
Doubles from 1,700 dirhams (£136), including breakfast
Best for cool minimalism: Riad UP
If your eyes need a rest from the Medina’s riot of colour, Riad UP is the place to soothe them. Mallorcan designer Elsa Bauza has transformed a former palace into a relaxing riad of six rooms, living and dining rooms, an uncluttered patio courtyard and a plunge pool. The style is refreshingly simple without being stark, with plain fireplaces, soft leather furnishings and warm Berber woollen blankets. Head up to the roof terrace for city views and comfortable sun loungers. Lunch and dinner are available if you order in advance.
Doubles from €80 (£70), including breakfast
Best for rural chic: Les Deux Tours
Neighbourhood: La Palmeraie
It’s only five kilometres from the Medina, but Les Deux Tours in La Palmeraie is in its own green, heavily fragrant world. Surrounded by three hectares of gardens, lily ponds and a large swimming pool, the hotel and its spa lull you into a state of bliss. Airy rooms are in a modern Moorish style and open out into those wonderful gardens, and some include private pools. Choose from two restaurants on site, or take the free shuttle into the city if you want a jolt back into reality.
Doubles from 1,815 dirhams (£146), including breakfast
Best for Medina views: Riad 72
Milan meets Marrakesh in the 13 rooms and sublime roof terrace of Riad 72. Set in an easy-to-reach spot in Bab Doukkala near Dar El Bacha palace, the riad features Italian decorative touches to go with its plush, soft Moroccan fabrics and, in some rooms, original cedar wood ceilings. Dinner is served in the gorgeous courtyard patio (book ahead), and the roof terrace is believed to be the highest in the Medina.
Doubles from 1,500 dirhams (£120), including breakfast
Best for history lovers: Palais Lamrani
Built by the Lamrani family a century ago, this six-room palace riad is a showpiece for the family’s fantastic collection of furniture collected from all over Europe and the Middle East. Among the Regency and Victorian splendour is the equally luscious central courtyard garden, which becomes even more magical during candlelit dinners. There’s another courtyard with a pool, and the roof terrace features a little gym to go with its sun loungers and Medina views.
Doubles from €144 (£125), including breakfast
Best for getting away from it all: Jnane Tamsna
Neighbourhood: La Palmeraie
An American ethnobotanist and his wife, a French-Senegalese interior designer, joined forces to create the exquisite Jnane Tamsna, set in 22 hectares of lavish gardens in La Palmeraie. Its 24 rooms are arranged in five houses, many with their own patios and all designed in a way that seamlessly brings together African, Maghreb and Indian designs. Five swimming pools and a tennis court are tucked in there too, and you could also try your hand at a cooking class or yoga.
Doubles from €155 (£135), including breakfast
Best for affordable chic: Riad Tizwa
British brothers Daniel and Richard Bee run this chilled-out riad within spitting distance of Dar El Bacha palace. Its six rooms are traditionally Moroccan without being fussy, and balconies overlook the flower-filled courtyard garden. Enjoy a generous breakfast on the lovely roof terrace, where you can also have dinner if you book in advance.
Doubles from €75 (£65), including breakfast
Best for romance: AnaYela
The story of this 300-year-old riad is pure enchantment: a love letter, written by 16-year-old Yela just before her wedding, was discovered here, and its contents have been creatively woven into the design of the former palace and its five luxurious rooms. The whole place has been beautifully restored, and there’s also a limestone pool. You can even head up to the roof terrace and get cosy under the tented tower where young Yela fell in love.
Doubles from €200 (£173), including breakfast and airport transfers, minimum two-night stay