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Riads are hidden in the rabbit warren of narrow lanes that make up the centuries-old medinas of Marrakech and Fes. They sit between the dusty streets of Sahelian caravan towns where spices and silks were traded across North Africa. They fringe bustling bazaars and mint-scented teahouses from the Atlas Mountains to the palm-topped boulevards of Casablanca. The traditional accommodation of choice right across Morocco, these charming and enchanting accommodations rarely fail to get the wanderlust flowing.
Just a glimpse at the unique architecture of these places is often enough to get travellers pining for a getaway to the mystical lands of Morocco. Laden with ornate archways and filigreed balconies, riads certainly look the part. But it's not just for show. The meticulous design of these age-old stays is said to help manage the desert heat. A central courtyard is cooled by a babbling fountain or a freshwater pool, while carved windows are strategically placed to allow air to flow freely throughout. Riads are, quite literally, an escape from the heat of the bazaar.
Because they were once the homes of North African nobles and rich merchants and sometimes even sultans, riads are no stranger to the luxury side of life. Riads in Marrakech lead the way, with spots like the opulent Riad Le Jardin d'Abdou promising rooms of rich wood and soothing cream colours, a full-service hammam spa and a kitchen that cooks up medleys of cinnamon-scented tagines and Moroccan lamb kebabs.
There's more opulence to come with the Riads in Fes, too. 4.5 stars set the elegant Riad Fes Maya apart from the crowd there. Head inside to get lost in a montage of geometric tiles and Arabic ornamentation, all topped with a refined spa and a cafe that serves spice-infused coffees and teas.
You can find them pretty much all over Morocco and even beyond, especially in towns centred on ancient medina districts. There are plenty of riads in Essaouira along the Moroccan Atlantic coast, for example, and others hiding out in the citrus-spotted lands of the Maghreb or amidst the dusty desert towns of the Sahara and the Sahel. They are jewels laden with art and silks and sumptuous Arabic suites that are just waiting to be discovered.
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