Take a look at the best luxury hotels in Morocco.
Deep in the medina, in a tangled web of narrow red streets, Riad Kheirredine fashions itself as a doorway to the soul of Morocco. The secret's out (and the prices are up) on this traditionally styled, four-pearl guesthouse. The staff is a dream come true, and the riad's white-linen opulence could be the setting for a fairy tale. Unlike many riad rooms in the old city, these have minibars and Bluetooth music systems, but like most, they're narrow (as they're built around a courtyard or garden), and don't have TVs or coffeemakers. Riad Kheirredine is not as ornately furnished, nor that close to Jamaa El Fna Square (some might consider this a plus) as other riads, but its rooftop terrace and fantastic service stand out.
A luxury guesthouse in the historic quarter, Riad Dar Anika is a private sanctuary with a wonderful garden courtyard and a staff with a penchant for luxury pampering. With 12 rooms, it's a bit larger than other riads, and has a heated pool and a marble hammam. The rooms are covered in colorful Moroccan textiles and rich hand-carved wood, though even the higher-tier rooms are small. It's located toward the southern end of the medina, and has the rare benefit of being right off a main avenue near street parking, making it easier to find than competing riads located deeper in the maze-like streets of the medina.
La Maison Aribe is a luxurious boutique hotel built around an interior courtyard with 12 guest rooms and 14 suites, all decorated in unique and color-saturated Moroccan style. Located in the heart of Marakech's old city, the hotel is close to the Jemaa el Fna marketplace and many other must-see sights. Other highlights include cooking classes, two restaurants, a piano bar, an intimate spa, and two pools, one on site and another at the property's country club. This is easily one of the top boutique options in Medina; the Riad Kniza and La Sultana are among the only small hotels that can compare.
Set within the walls of Marakech's bustling Medina, Riad Idra is an intimate seven-room, luxury boutique hotel with a rooftop terrace, a small spa, and a romantic fine-dining restaurant. Guests enjoy the personal service, the tailored Moroccan decor, and the tranquil interior courtyard, which provides a soothing place to linger after a day of navigating the souks. The rooms are individually decorated in traditional Moroccan style, featuring tall ceilings, local art, and plush amenities, but they lack terraces. The special decor and central Medina location help make this one of the city's top riads, but it is missing key amenities such as a pool and fitness room. For those, consider the also intimate Riad Noir d'Ivoire -- but note that it is farther from Jemaa El-Fna square.
The lovingly restored 18th-century Riad Kniza is a luxurious 11-room hideout in the heart of Marrakech's old city. The hotel's serene atmosphere and authentic Moroccan decor attract well-seasoned travelers who prefer to explore the sites of the old city and then return to a plush, quiet retreat. The rooms are spacious with fireplaces and lots of Moorish detail and there are several courtyards and gorgeously decorated salons in which to enjoy a leisurely Moroccan meal. It's one of the top boutique options in the Medina, but if it's booked, travelers can also consider the comparable (if slightly larger) La Maison Arabe or La Sultana.
The eight-room boutique Dar Ayniwen Villa has the feel of a luxury guesthouse with top-notch amenities. The architecture and decor are dramatic, with spectacular museum-quality antiques in common areas and guest rooms, each of which is unique and individually-designed. The hotel sits amid acres of lushly landscaped gardens and an exotic aviary; the restaurant serves fine Moroccan cuisine in a lovely dining room or spectacular winter tent. The romance factor is high (as are the prices). This is a special location with a one-of-a-kind Moroccan feel.
Located in Marrakech's historic Medina, the elegant Riad Noir d'Ivoire is a luxury boutique hotel masquerading behind a traditional riad's walls. The entire riad has been restored with rich modern furnishings with both Berber and more typically Marrakeshi artwork, textiles, and accents, and the sprawling courtyard is home to two swimming pools. The kitchen serves exceptional Moroccan and French food throughout the day -- in addition to the free continental breakfast -- to wherever on the grounds guests would like to eat. The nine spacious, sumptuous rooms have flat-screen TVs and the rare-for-Morocco alcoholic minibar; the five suites have private balconies. The riad also has a hammam, small gym, lounge bar, boutique, and library. Wi-Fi is included.
La Sultana Marrakech is a collection of five riads combined to create a 28-room luxury hotel with an intimate spa, a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of Marrakech, and richly decorated interiors that showcase impeccable Moroccan style and craftsmanship. The hotel is located in the southern section of the Medina, close to palaces, museums, and souks. Guest rooms and suites are unique in their decor, featuring a mélange of decorative Moroccan tile-work, carved wood doors and ceilings, and gilded bathrooms. Other comparable properties in this price range in the Medina include the Riad Kniza and La Maison Arabe.
The Riad Baoussala is arguably the most upscale riad in the Essaouira, but its location a 15-minute drive outside the medina down a dirt road means renting a car is recommended. Its six suites outfitted in a combination of jewel tones and the warm hues of natural materials such as packed earth and untreated wood. The bohemian complex features a number of cozy nooks tucked into carved-rock common areas along with an ochre rooftop deck, all surrounded by eucalyptus gardens. The property is family-friendly, with kids' menus, stowaway cots available, and babysitting services. Advance notice must be given for dinner, which integrates plenty of fresh local produce and gets good feedback from guests. There's also a heated pool and a traditional hammam that can be used free of charge, and spa services are available for a fee.
This four-pearl, seven-room riad is located in Fes' atmospheric old town. It's a two-minute walk from the main gate, making it a good base for exploring the medina. The historic 13th-century building was lovingly restored in 2006, blending traditional Andalusian style with modern amenities. Every room has been individually decorated, and all include air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. Though the riad lacks a hammam, it has a small indoor pool, sun terrace for tanning, and a bar that serves alcohol. There are two restaurants, with one offering breathtaking rooftops views of the medina. A free continental breakfast is served daily, and Wi-Fi is free throughout the property. Travelers preferring to be outside the medina should consider rates at the Hotel Sahrai, which adds an outdoor pool and spa.
Riad Aguaviva is an upscale boutique riad (traditional courtyard house) in the Medina of Marrakesh with six narrow, air-conditioned rooms and authentic Moorish details. In summer, the stone walls of the building create a cooling effect that protects the interiors from the heat of the streets. The owners are warm and welcoming, and provide guests with a cell phone programed with the Riad Aguaviva's number in case they get lost in the maze-like souks. Travelers looking for an authentic Moroccan experience in the old city will appreciate the personal touches and the intimate atmosphere; the dipping pool has fresh rose petals sprinkled into it every night. Breakfasts are delicious and varied and Wi-Fi is free. Guests looking for cheaper rates may want to also consider Riad Noos Noos, which is nearer the main square of Djemaa el Fna and has more affordably priced rooms
Riad Chbanate is a small four-pearl, French-owned hotel housed in an 18th-century riad -- or traditional Moroccan mansion -- right in the Medina of Essaouira and about a five-minute walk from the beach. The eight individually decorated rooms here feature gorgeous, traditional decor and modern amenities including flat-screen TVs and minibars. Bathrooms are particularly spectacular, with deep marble soaking tubs. Dining options include a free breakfast of crepes, pastries, fruit, and eggs, and lunch and dinner can be cooked to order with prior notice. There's also a massage room on the property, and the riad can help guests arrange for off-site activities such as golfing, camel rides, and hammam visits. Travelers may want to also consider Riad Baoussala, which has its own hammam but doesn't have as central a location.
Set within the walls of the Medina, steps to the lively Jemaa El Fna Square, the Relais & Chateaux affiliated Villa des Orangers is an intimate 27-room luxury boutique hotel with authentic Moroccan style. The riad's spacious rooms showcase the region's decor, incorporating saturated colors and textiles and antique wood furnishings. Private terraces offer glimpses of the Atlas Mountains, the Koutoubia Mosque, and the hotel's interior courtyards shaded by orange trees. Two pools, including one on the rooftop, attentive service, and a small spa add to the hotel's allure, but its lack of elevators and abundance of steep stairs might not appeal to everyone. Still, it's one of the top luxury options inside the Medina; Riad Farnatchi is one of the only riad-style properties that compares, but many will prefer the rich decor and generous freebies here.
Tucked into an alley in the quiet Mouassin Quarter, just a few minutes on foot from Jemaa el Fnaa Square, this three-and-a-half-pearl riad bills itself as a “boutique hotel of timeless beauty and seductive atmosphere” -- and it delivers on both counts. The converted medina mansion, designed by Umberto Maria Branchini in 2010, has seven spacious suites with handcrafted furnishings and luxe fabrics. Sophisticated common areas combine local character with a contemporary sensibility (the most noteworthy is a softly lit dining room specializing in fine Moroccan and Mediterranean dishes). The panoramic roof terrace above and traditional hammam below are equally tempting. Riad Joya’s service (which includes access to personal butlers) is top-notch too; however, if you want a pool, the Riad le Clos des Arts may be a better choice.
Designed by renowned architect Imaad Rahmouni, Sirayane Boutique Hotel & Spa is a modern marvel of 28 luxury rooms and suites spread across acres of manicured gardens in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains, 15 minutes outside of Marrakech's Medina. Guest rooms each have either a private terrace or garden, and some have private pools. Between the sprawling, lounger-lined pool and the indulgent spa with a traditional hammam, there's little tempting guests to leave the scenic grounds -- especially considering the tennis courts, jogging path, gym, two bars, and gourmet restaurant. But the hotel runs a free shuttle to and from the Medina every two hours (six times daily), so even the most independent luxury-lover can have the best of both worlds.