Near the Ben Youssef madrasa – the city’s most important Islamic school – this cute, six-room riad is one of the oldest houses in the medina, though you’d never know it. It’s arranged around a central courtyard shaded by bitter-orange trees (for making marmalade). You can sip tea by the fire in the first-floor salon, feast on traditional tagines and couscous in the red dining room, and laze around down in the bhou – a built-in sofa beneath the inglenook-style beams. The in-house chefs, Hanane and Cherifa, host cooking classes (€40pp). Rooms have colourful details – candy-striped easy chairs in the Garden room and turquoise pom-pom blankets in the Berber room – and the rooftop views of the Atlas mountains are sensational. • Doubles from €100 B&B, + 212 524 377 737, dar-hanane.com
Tizwa is the kind of place that makes you go “ahh …” the minute you swoosh through the door. Original dove-grey and white tiles cover wraparound balconies draped with white-linen curtains, and scented jasmine cascades down to the courtyard. It’s a great place to curl up on a sofa and do nothing, yet just minutes from the main souks and a short cab ride into the Ville Nouvelle. The five rooms are spacious and comfortable, with some lavish details, such as the ornately carved plaster ceilings in the courtyard room, but it’s the thoughtful touches that make the place: who doesn’t love finding flasks of piping-hot tea and coffee outside their room when they wake up in the morning?
• Doubles from €95 B&B, 07973 115 471, riadtizwa.com
Riad Al Jazira
Not many medina hotels are big enough to have a courtyard swimming pool but Al Jazira is one of them. Enclosed within cool, plaster columns, the pool forms the focal point of this sprawling, 17th-century property, which consists of three houses knocked into one, with an unusually minimalist decor. Simple white furnishings, potted paddle-leaf cacti and the odd contemporary artwork allow the architecture to speak for itself. The owner, Abdellatif Aït Ben Abdallah, now has several hotels under his belt, as well as the iconic Dar Cherifa literary café and Dar Zellij, one of the best restaurants in town for traditional Moroccan fine dining.
• Doubles from €87 B&B, +212 524 426 463, riad-aljazira.com
Riad Rbaa Laroub
This riad is named after a stopped clock (r’baa laroub means quarter to four) that French owner Jean-Noël Schoeffer gave pride of place to in the main courtyard 15 years ago, and hasn’t moved since. The polished terracotta-tiled space is filled with antiques and curios, and a gaggle of return guests who’ve been passing through for years. More home than hotel, it has seven individually decorated rooms, enriched with painted wood ceilings, black and yellow floor tiles, and antique embroidered bed linen, while the jungle-like roof terrace is a haven of secret corners to hide away in. On cold days breakfast is served in the dining room, but most guests gather around the kitchen table instead.
• Doubles from €75 B&B, +212 524 390 716, darrbaalaroub.com
The South Medina is a relatively undiscovered, undeveloped neighbourhood, but the pretty red passageway planted with roses that hides this cute little guesthouse suggests it could be on the up. Opened in 2007, the intimate, red tadelakt courtyard, with its black-tiled paddling pool, makes for a dramatic entrance. You’ll find the eight rooms rather more sedate. The best has a four-poster bed, with crisp, embroidered linen, creamy walls and cool, tiled bathrooms. The shady, lushly planted roof terrace is a fantastic spot for breakfast. Mainly, though, this is a great jumping-off point if you’re heading for the Sahara, as the road south is practically on the doorstep.
• Doubles from €100 B&B, +212 524 38 69 81, riad-honey.com
One of the city’s grooviest hotels, Riad Edward has a lived-in, clubby air, one that immediately makes you feel you belong. A deep, teal-blue pool occupies most of the courtyard, with daybeds scattered casually around, while easy-listening numbers fill the air; at night, candlelit lanterns flicker from every surface. The 10 rooms are an eclectic mix of styles, ranging from the vast Douiria suite, with its eye-boggling carved wood ceiling, to the light-filled Studio Room, which has an entrance flanked by Berber totems, a canopied bed, and disco mirror tiles around the fireplace. There’s a dramatic dining room, with a table to seat 38. The food is excellent, and available round the clock.
• Doubles from €75 B&B, +212 524 389 797, riyadedward.com
Le Coq Berbère
When Elisabetta Caracciolo came to Marrakech to buy a riad eight years ago, she was seduced by a terrible house with no stairs and a gigantic hole in the roof. There were, however, extraordinary views of the Koutoubia minaret. She bought it, and although the renovation took four years, she now finds herself at the heart of Riad Laaroussa – the hottest spot in the medina for new restaurants and boutique-souk shopping. The house makes a calming retreat from the mayhem, with simple bejmat floors (matt terracotta tiles), cream wicker furniture arranged around a teeny-tiny plunge pool, and a plush Moroccan lounge tucked beneath the arches. Three doubles and three triples are comfortable and unfussy rooms, but the real lure is a series of roof terraces, where you can take it all in without leaving the lounger.
• Doubles from €55 B&B, +212 524 384 057, marrakechriad.info
This artist’s lair is part gallery, part workspace and part exhibition room, and occasional guesthouse for like-minded souls who want to immerse themselves in Marrakech’s creative hub. Run by photographer Laila Hida, it has a dynamic atmosphere, with everyone from Magnum photographers to local, up-and-coming street artists zipping in to work on their latest project, or to talk shop over coffee or mint tea in the courtyard. Pressed, concrete tiles in geometric patterns cover the floors; the three rooms are simple but inspiring spaces for a working getaway.
• Doubles from £45 B&B, +212 524 389 864, facebook.com/dardixhuit
This former fortune teller’s house, in the north medina, is a luxury boutique in the truest sense. The seven-room, family-friendly riad has been lavishly decorated in soothing tones of pistachio and peach tadelakt, layered with rich Moroccan silks and embroidery, and dotted with brass lanterns by celebrated designer Yahya, who supplies various royal houses and Hollywood A-listers. The food is fabulous too – try a breakfast of Berber porridge (spiced, cooked grains with dried fruit and honey), shakshuka and yogurt with nuts and cinnamon, or the rooftop barbecues. Don’t miss a trip to the pint-sized spa for traditional Moroccan beauty treatments and facials.
• Doubles from €110 B&B, +212 661 215 062, riadzamzam.com
The design vibe at WO combines traditional Marrakech interiors of cool plaster and tadelakt with a clever riff on pisé techniques more traditional to the countryside. WO feels curiously removed from city life – it’s almost as if you’re out in glamorous La Palmeraie or tucked away in the countryside, despite the fact that Djemaa-el Fna square is less than five minutes away. All five rooms are spacious and uncluttered, with simple platform beds and cool grass mats underfoot. An expansive lounge has deep sofas, a dining area and a vast fireplace, but the piece de resistance is the galleried outdoor chillout zone with its L-shaped pool.
• Doubles from €90 B&B, +212 665 367 936, riadw.com