The Ultimate Guide to Marrakech Medina Hotels

Marrakech has become an ever more popular destination in recent years, and more often than not it's a Marrakech medina hotel or riad that people want to stay in. Marrakech has the advantage – for northern Europeans at least – of being a) just four hours flying away, so reachable by the low cost airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet, and b) exotic. It's the Marrakech Medina, above all, that gives it it's exoticism.

Riad in the Marrakech medina

What does Medina mean?

Medina is an ancient Aramaic word meaning city, and in Marrakech it simply denotes the oldest part of town. It's a warren of small winding alleys, souks (marketplaces) and squares, with shops, houses, mosques and hammams crowded cheek-by-jowl in a space little larger than Soho in Central London. So if you want to have an authentic experience when holidaying in Marrakech, in the most atmospheric part of the city, a hotel or guesthouse in the Marrakech Medina is the best place to stay.

Staying in the Marrakech Medina? Beware fake reviews!

However, before choosing one – and we list our favourites below – you should bear in mind that these hotels and guesthouses – called riads or riyads in Morocco – differ from regular hotels in a few important respects. First, they are often hidden down dark back alleys, where the lighting is often not the best, so for nervous travellers they may seem daunting. Second, they are all in converted old buildings, so the construction will be traditional, the electrics and facilities not up to the standard of western hotels, and the fittings not as slick. There are also over 1000 converted riads in Marrakech, not all of them licensed. This, perhaps is the most important point – you need to choose a reputable riad if staying in the Marrakech Medina, because being in such old buildings, it's doubly important that fire regulations and safety aspects have been adhered to. With the boom in tourism to Marrakech it's become all too easy for unscrupulous landlords to turn their old houses into riads, converting them cheaply, with no regard for regulation. And don't just rely on Trip Advisor – the cleverest riad owners know how to game the system, with multiple faked reviews pushing their riads to the top.

If all of this seems challenging, there are plenty of four and five star hotels with all the mod cons in the New Town, just outside the medina. You can stay in comfort, and explore the old town and souks by day. But if you want atmosphere, head for one of our recommended riads in Marrakech medina.

Riads with pools in the Marrakech Medina

Pool in the Marrakech medina

In the heat of summer, Marrakech Medina comes into it's own, with it's cool, dark alleys, shaded courtyards and tinkling fountains. However, the riads can still be hot, so you may want to choose one with air-conditioning. Also a swimming pool – though in these riads, because of the lack of space, these are generally little larger than plunge pools. For one with a larger than average offering the Riad Sapphire is a good option. Riad Al Boraq boasts a flower filled courtyard with plunge pool, and Riad Madani has beautiful spacious grounds with a large pool at their centre.

The Best Roof Terraces in the Medina

Roof terrace in the Marrakech medina

There are numerous delights about staying in Marrakech, but one of the most special is being able to sit outside and gaze across the rooftops as the muezzin call to prayer or the storks settle on the chimney pots, as you sip your orange juice (freshly squeezed) or sweet hot moroccan tea and plan your excursions for the day. For a great roof terrace we'd suggest booking into either Riad El Fenn or Riad Kaiss. The last riad in our list, Dar Les Cigognes, is in one of the oldest parts of the Marrakech Medina, right opposite the Royal Palace and it's numerous nesting storks, providing a fabulous view across the Medina from a delightful rooftop garden of orange trees and bourgainvillea.

Learn to Cook!

Another attraction of Marrakech is the plethora of good cooking classes laid on by a number of the riads. Moroccan food is not just about cous-cous and pidgeon - there are a wealth of dishes, pastries and salads, all using a wide variety of the freshest ingredients. For example, Dar Les Cigognes' owner Eben Lenderking has written a charming book on Moroccan cuisine, and his riad was voted Best Cooking School in Morocco in 2012 (see above). Other riads worth considering if you want to come away with a new skill are Riad dar Zaman, Riad el Cadi and Le Riad Monceau. Oh, and you eat well here too...

Luxury riads in the Marrakech Medina

If you are on honeymoon, or if you simply want to splash out on a little more comfort, there are a handful of so-called luxury riads in the Marrakech medina. However, it's somewhat of an elastic concept in Marrakech, because the best riads have been lovingly restored by passionate and cultured owners with more or less luxury according to their personal style - and they come from from all nations. You can really tell, as these are not just places to stay for guests, but often homes too, and they provide a lifestyle for the owners that is hard to beat. I'm thinking here of Vanessa Branson and the Riad El Fenn, Meryanne Loum-Martin and the beautiful Jnane Tamsna (in the Palmerie), Herwig Bartels' Riad El Cadi (now run by his daughter Julia) or Eben Lenderking and his Sansouci Collection. So by all means consider the two more traditionally luxurious riads we recommend here - Maison MK and La Maison Arabe, but remember that some of our favourite riads don't have flat screen TVs - or indeed TVs at all! (PS - the Maison Arabe is right on the edge of the Marrakech Medina, but accessible by car).

Finally, a great riad in the Medina for exclusive use

Planning a 40th? Or 50th? Or 60th? Marrakech is a popular destination for group events and parties, partly because it's cheap to get to, and you get alot of 'bang for your buck'. Nearly all the riads in the Marrakech medina can be booked for exclusive use, given enough notice, and the vast majority have less than 20 rooms - our recommendation is especially perfect, by virtue of the fact that the rooms are all grouped around a central courtyard, so the 'feng shui' for a group stay feels just right, and it is small enough for intimate groups. Dar Fakir, played host to the 'Made in Chelsea' set - an added attraction maybe, at least for teenage girls like mine!

Other Marrakech hotels and riads

To see our complete list of riads and hotels, both in the Marrakech medina and outside, as well as some lovely country-house style hotels in the Palmerie, see our Best hotels in Marrakech list, as well as our Best Marrakech riads list.


  • Riad Sapphire & Spa

    Marrakech (Sidi Ben Slimane)

    Brand new stylish riad situated in the heart of the Medina. Eight cool suites offer simple yet elegant furnishings with plenty of local craftmanship on display. Two marble courtyards for relaxing after a day at the souks, roof terrace to soak up mountain views and spa with hammam for pampering.

    from $111
    Exclusive offer  -  Save up to 15%
    Spa  -  Private hammam and spa
    Swimming Pool  -  Larger than average for a riad in the Medina
    Sights nearby  -  Situated in the heart of the Medina
    Designer  -  Uniquely designed interiors.
  • Riad Al Boraq

    Marrakech Médina

    A cosy, authentic riad with charming staff and great-value prices. Simple and fresh - a great base from which to explore Marrakech.

    6 rooms from $100
    City Style
    Swimming Pool  -  Cooling plunge pool for summer stays.
    Local markets  -  Good for local colour.
    Sights nearby  -  Well located for major sights.
  • Riad Madani

    Marrakech (Derb Dabachi)

    An eclectic mix of furniture fills a warren of rooms at this unique riad set in beautiful grounds. Shabby-chic at this eccentric home from home. An oasis of peace with a swimming pool in the centre.

    14 rooms from $189
    City Style
    Swimming Pool  -  Lovely Outdoor Pool
    Local markets  -  Good for local colour.
    Sights nearby  -  Well located for major sights.
  • Riad El Fenn

    Marrakech

    A designer riad, owned by Vanessa Branson, and furnished with flair in the heart of the Marrakech medina. Lush gardens, secluded terraces and courtyards, surrounding fragrant rose gardes, and magnificent views of the city. The ultimate place for wellbeing.

    20 rooms from $278
    Honeymoons  -  Stunning suites and spectacular views, spa treatments and belly dancers plus unbeatable food- what more could you want?
    Chic  -  An arty riad filled with British modern art and Moroccan collectables.
    Roof terrace  -  Magical views at night.
    Wellbeing
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Kiwi Collection
  • Riad Dar Zaman

    Marrakech (Sidi Ben Slimane)

    Charming four roomed riad situated in the heart of the medina. Traditionally decorated rooms feature berber rugs and original hand-crafted pieces. Delicious Moroccan cuisine and cooking classes available too. Beautiful sun terrace with views to the mountains. An excellent value chic retreat.

    4 rooms from $88
    Exclusive offer  -  Free transfer and dinner
    Groups  -  Take over the whole riad for a stay to remember!
    Views  -  Fantastic views over the medina and to the Atlas Mountains in the distance from the roof terrace.
    Cooking classes  -  Scour the souks for ingredients, then return to the Riad to learn how to cook them.
    Restrictions on children  -  No children under 12 unless you take over the whole property
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
  • Riad Kaiss

    Marrakech (Riad Zitoun Kedim)

    Magnificent, traditional riad in the Medina with easy access to the historic sites. Stunning rooms with exquisite touches, sun-drenched roof-tops, peace, calm and beauty.

    9 rooms from $178
    Chic
    City Style
    Swimming Pool  -  Lovely Outdoor Pool
    Kids Club  -  Fully staffed.
  • Dar Les Cigognes

    Marrakech Medina

    An understated and elegance Riad, in the heart of Marrakech. The beautifully decorated rooms fuse Moroccan and European styles to create enchanting spaces. Fantastic views from the roof top terrace, while you chow down on award winning delicious food. Simply magical.

    11 rooms from $184
    Exclusive offer  -  Free Night Offer
    City Style  -  Magical rooms in a stylish Riad, with award winning restaurant and extensive spa services- all in the center of Marrakech!
    Elegant
    Cooking classes  -  Learn to cook traditional Moroccan food with the school that was voted Best Moroccan Cooking School in the world.
    Local markets  -  Less than a ten minute walk away you'll find Jamaâ El Fna Square, the main market in Marrakech
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
  • Riyad el Cadi

    Marrakech (Dabachi)

    Calm, stylish refuge filled with fine furniture and art. Beautiful white washed patios and roof top sun terrace. A place of tranquility and calm. Its accommodations are well suited for families.

    15 rooms from $138
    Artworks  -  Lofty architecture, museum-worthy textiles, historic objets d’art and original frescoed features make this a veritable museum.
    City Style  -  Five stunning 14th-century Riads, with enchanting interiors, cool leafy courtyard and tented roofterrace, right in the Medina.
    Local exploring  -  Just around the corner from the all-singing, all-dancing, fire-eating, snake-charming, food-vending madness of Djemaa el-Fna.
    Local markets  -  Explore the wonderful and wild souks haggle over an array of textiles, carpets, leatherwork, spices and jewellery.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
  • Le Riad Monceau

    Marrakech

    Stunning, luxury riad-hotel, featuring a gastronomic Moroccan restaurant and Cookery School. Sublime bedrooms with private jacuzzis, attractive patio with swimming pool, traditional hammam spa, and one of Marrakech's best restaurants. For those who like the finer things in life.

    7 rooms from $162
    Local markets  -  The Riad is only a three minute walk to the souks where you can spend hours rummaging around and haggling for a deal
    Cooking classes  -  The chef runs a famous Moroccan cookery workshops to teach guests their favourite dishes from the menu
    Great walks  -  Wander the rabibt warren streets of Marrakech and getting throughly lost!
    Views  -  The sun-drenched terraces offer wonderful views of the Koutoubia mosque
  • Maison MK

    Marrakech

    A fabulously relaxing and romantic retreat in a frenetic city. Subtly lit rooms with neutral tones and sensual shapes. Sensational food, fantastic hammam, and wonderful roof top terrace. Truly luxurious.

    6 rooms from $517
    Honeymoons  -  Honeymoon heaven, with a bottle of bubbly on arrival, romantic rooftop terrace, pampering spa and private dining options.
    Foodies  -  Spectacular Moroccan-French fusion- the five course tasting menu with rooftop drinks and canape reception, is a MUST!
    Great walks  -  Wander the streets of the old city, watch a snake charmer, bargain for some goods, and most importantly get lost!
    Cooking classes  -  With two courses- one hardcore cooking, the other includes an interesting visit to the local market.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Kiwi Collection
  • La Maison Arabe

    Marrakech (Bab Doukkala)

    Iconic restaurant turned luxury hotel, in the Medina of Marrakech. The decor is a sublime combination of traditional Moroccan craftsmanship and smart European style. Every detail sings charm, old-school elegance, and history.

    26 rooms from $230
    Luxury
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Local markets  -  Ten minutes from Jamaâ El Fna Squarem, with plenty of smaller souks nearby.
    Great walks  -  Head out to Majorelle Gardens for a peaceful stroll.
  • Dar Fakir

    Marrakech (Kennaria, Medina)

    Romantic central Riad with flickering lights and cosy rooms. Exceptional value for money. Elegant rooms in Berber style in creams and beiges. A place to impress.

    7 rooms from $100
    Exclusive offer  -  Summer Special
    City Style
    Cooking classes  -  Check for timings.
    Sights nearby  -  Well located for major sights.
    Local markets  -  Good for local colour.
  • Riyad El Mezouar

    Marrakech (Issebtinne 40000)

    Boutique hotel with an elegant aristocratic ambience. Its understated style avoids fake orientalism. It provides authentic peace and harmony with simpler white washed walls, orange trees, and a beautiful inner courtyard.

    5 rooms from $151
    Value chic
    Hideaway  -  An intimate spot with only 5 rooms.
    Swimming Pool  -  Small Plunge Pool
    Local markets  -  Good for local colour.
    Recommended by  -  Tablet

Written by  James Dunford Wood,
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