Riad or hotel in Fez

Moroccan Riad vs Hotel: pros and cons

Staying in a Moroccan riad is to the cities what sleeping in a camp like Kam Kam Dunes is to the desert.

In other words: stay in a typical Moroccan building that will make your visit to the country as authentic as possible. It will allow you to experience the exoticism of these lands and feel more like a traveler than a tourist.

We admit that maybe we’re being a little bit too obvious and that our favorite urban accommodations are riads. Since we’re here to help you clear your head, let’s break down the big question: Moroccan riad or hotel?

Let’s get down to it.

What is a Moroccan riad

Let’s start at the beginning: what is a Moroccan riad.

A riad is a typical construction of the cities where traditionally several branches of the same family stayed.

While it is true that most of these buildings have been converted into tourist accommodation, especially in larger cities such as Fez and Marrakech, this is a custom that still occurs and it is not uncommon for the same house to be inhabited by grandparents and grandchildren.

And of course, to accommodate such a large number of personnel, they are usually large buildings. With at least five or six rooms.

These rooms are distributed around a central courtyard where there is usually a fountain and abundant vegetation. In the hottest areas there is even a swimming pool to cool off.

Image of a swimming pool at a Riad in Morocco

To complete the atmosphere: colorful tiles with geometric shapes, mosaics, carved wood with Arabic inscriptions, carpets…

In short, you will find all the elements of typical Moroccan decoration in a Moroccan riad.

Where are they located? They are usually located inside the medina of the cities. It is a clear advantage to know the historical centers because you are already in the very heart of the city.

But let’s not jump to any conclusions and let’s dive deeper into the pros and cons of a Moroccan riad.

Advantages and disadvantages of staying in a Moroccan riad

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you will already know that for us, immersing ourselves in the traditions of the places we visit, for example, sleeping in a Moroccan riad, is a must.

However, as we also have a lot of experience hosting people from all over the world and accompanying them on tours in Morocco, we also know that there are a few things it is better to know before choosing to stay in a Moroccan riad or hotel.

Take notes:

Advantages of staying in a Moroccan riad

Let’s take a look at its main advantages:

  1. As we said before, if you stay in a riad, you are inside the medina, which is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating places in Moroccan cities.
  2. Although there are luxurious riads that can cost an arm and a leg, there are also affordable ones; they may be more modestly decorated, but they are equally authentic and comfortable.
  3. And speaking of decoration, what is certain is that a Moroccan riad is always dressed with traditional objects, textiles, and furnishings creating a special atmosphere.
  4. The feeling of peace you experience when you move from the bustle of the medina to the silence that the walls of the riad provide.
  5. The treatment is more personal and personalized.
  6. Staying in a Moroccan riad is a unique and unforgettable experience. It makes you feel part of the rhythm of the place you are visiting.

We’ll leave it here, we got too excited and we are trying to put objectivity in this analysis.

Disadvantages of staying in a Moroccan riad

Yes, yes, we are also able to see the less positive points of sleeping in a Moroccan riad:

  1. As we have said, riads are usually located in the historic center, so if you are going to stay in one as your headquarters and travel around Morocco from there, you might want to stay in something less central.
  2. Riyads are more scarce than hotels, so finding one that lives up to your expectations can become a somewhat tedious task.
  3. If for whatever reason you can’t go without going to the gym or you need rooms for teleworking and meetings, in a riad, nanai de la China.
  4. If you don’t like Moroccan décor and prefer Western standards, you will probably be better off in a chain hotel than in a riad, although there are many that have made a very interesting cultural hybrid.

Well, well, well, if you are still not clear whether you want riad or hotel, we continue analyzing them.

Image of a courtyard of a riad in Morocco.

Advantages and disadvantages of staying in a hotel in Morocco

Like everything in life, hotels have two sides:

The advantages of staying in a hotel in Morocco

Let’s start by commenting that in a country with a culture with as much personality as Morocco, hotel standards are very different from Western ones, so research well where you are going before booking to avoid surprises.

That said, here are the advantages of this type of accommodation:

  1. Hotels are generally easier to find than riads because of their size. In addition, they are on most of the booking platforms you are familiar with.
  2. Hotels usually have all the amenities and services you might want or need, such as parking, a swimming pool, a gym, or a spa.
  3. Most of them are air-conditioned, which is very much appreciated in the hot season.
  4. If you are one of those who prefer to go at your own pace all the time, in a hotel, it is more impersonal.

And on the other side of the coin, we have….

The disadvantages of staying in a hotel in Morocco

It would be enough to turn around the pros of the riad, but here is a summary of the disadvantages of a Moroccan hotel:

  1. Te pierdes la experiencia de dormir dentro de la medina.
  2. La decoración es más fría y menos genuina.
  3. Los precios suelen ser elevados si quieres encontrar un hotel bien.
  4. El ambiente de las zonas con hoteles no tiene tanto sabor como la medina.
  5. No tienes tantas opciones de interactuar con los locales.

Do you have it clearer now?

Image of a Moroccan hotel living room

Moroccan riad or hotel: which is better for you?

The answer to this question is a “it depends”. Why? Because each person and their circumstances are different.

The riad is the same as when you come to the desert of Erg Chebbi to live the experience of spending the night in a unique environment with its silence, its play of light at sunset and immense starry skies: when it’s time to sleep, everyone prefers their own thing.

However, we also know that staying in a camp like Kam Kam Dunes, in the middle of the dunes, with Berber tents made in the traditional way but with all the comforts, has nothing to do with staying in a hotel or in a camp with PVC tents in a village on the perimeter of the desert.

It is one thing to stay and another to immerse yourself in an authentic and exotic experience.

The same with the Moroccan riad.

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Guide to travel to the Moroccan desert in style

How to plan your adventure in Morocco. It also includes the best restaurants, riads and hotels in Marrakech and Fez.