Riads, Dars & Kasbahs
For many guests, the chance to stay in a converted
traditional house is a major drawcard
for a trip to Morocco. They’re the type of accommodation
that the term ‘boutique hotel’
could have been invented for, and no two
are alike. Service tends to be personal, with
many places noted for their food as much as
their lodgings. Room rates are comparable
to four- or five-star hotels. Marrakesh is the
most famous destination for riad aficionados
(there are several hundred), with Fez
coming a close second. Essaouira, Rabat,
Tangier and Assilah are also popular. With
their popularity seemingly unassailable you
can increasingly find riads in the most unexpected
corners of the country.
Although the term riad is often used generically for such places, a riad proper is a house built around a garden with trees. You’ll also come across plenty of dars (traditional houses with internal courtyards). Kasbahs (old citadels), which often function as hotels, are found throughout the major tourist centres of the south. Rooms in kasbahs are small and dark, due to the nature of the building, but are lovely and cool in summer.
Most riads operate on advance bookings, and it’s worth planning ahead, as most only have a handful of rooms and can fill quickly. Advance booking often means that someone from the riad will be sent to meet you outside the medina when you arrive: labyrinthine streets often conspireattempt.
Many riads list their online rates in euros, rather than dirhams, at exchange rates favourable to themselves, so always double check the prices when booking.
For an idea of properties and prices, visit the websites of these agencies: Fez Riads ( www.fez-riads.com) A percentage of profits are donated towards restoration projects in the Fez medina. Marrakech Riads (www.marrakech -riads.com) Well-established and respected agency.