Difference Between a Riad and a Hotel in Morocco

Courtyard and Balcony at a Moroccan Riad

What’s the Difference Between a Riad and a Hotel?

There is a significant difference between a riad and a hotel, although with lots of similarities when it comes to amenities and facilities.

What is a Riad?

The word “Riad” in Arabic means “a house with a tree or garden”. The Riad is a restored old traditional Moroccan house that was once the stately city home of wealthy citizens. A typical Riad will have two or more stories and can easily be recognized as its walls are covered with beautiful handmade tiles that immediately draw your attention. There is an Andalusian-style courtyard that contains a fountain at its center. As the name implies in every riad, there is a garden where normally breakfast is served in the morning and is the preferred oasis to relax in the evenings.

Marrakech Riad
Riad in Marrakech

Riads in Morocco are often located in the heart of the city in close proximity to the Medina and other city attractions. Located in narrow alleys just off the busy streets, these magnificent architectural gems are offering comfort, serenity, and genuine hospitality. Most riads have fewer rooms, so you can enjoy the privacy of the accommodation, especially after a busy day of exploring Morocco. There are also resort-like riads that can be found in the outskirts of the cities.

Courtyard and Balcony at a Moroccan Riad
Courtyard and Balcony at a Moroccan Riad

Riads are getting the same rating as hotels and visitors can plan their stay upon their budget. The highly ranked riads have their rooms furnished with air-conditioning and sometimes fireplaces to keep warm in the evenings. The most special feature of a traditional riad is that it is managed by a family. The Moroccan culture is prioritized to put the family first and hospitality second. This is a great advantage as Moroccan hospitality and cuisine can be experienced to the fullest. That’s why if you wish to cater to this type of stay then the riad is your place.

Hotels in Morocco

The hotels in Morocco are almost always situated in the newest parts of the city. These are more contemporary buildings bearing the Western spirit. To suit all tastes, some of the rooms will be furnished in the typical Moroccan style and others in the modern European style. Almost all hotels are large and spacious buildings offering suites of services to satisfy the most demanding taste. The highly ranked hotels normally have several restaurants on-site for the guests to choose the type of cuisine. Normally, the traditional restaurant will surprise you with not only well-prepared dishes, but with entertainment such as belly dancing and singing.

UggBoy♥UggGirl, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Should I Stay in a Riad or a Hotel in Morocco?

When traveling to Morocco, you should decide in advance your level of cultural immersion into the local culture and customs. One thing to be most conscious about is the “cultural shock” that might be felt on the second or third day of your stay in North Africa and that can really affect your entire experience. If you consider yourself moderately adventurous, then you should go to a hotel. If you are up to immersing entirely into the Moroccan culture meaning breathing, sleeping, and eating like a local then you should opt for a riad.

Whether you choose to stay in a riad or a hotel, we hope you will enjoy Morocco as this is a country where the traditional and modern cultures live in an extraordinary symbiosis.

Plan Your Vacation in Morocco

Whether you want to stay in a riad or in a hotel, our Morocco travel experts can help you plan your Morocco tour with your travel preferences in mind.

Speak to one of our travel experts today to start planning your unforgettable Morocco tour.

About the author

Kevin Dyck is the founder of Mosaic North Africa and has over 11 years experience living in North African countries. He is an Arabic speaker with a passion for travelers to encounter the diverse cultures and natural beauty found throughout the North Africa region. He currently lives in and works for MNA from Tunis, Tunisia.

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