Words by Sara D'Souza
Riad El Fenn
First things first, Riad El Fenn is owned by Vanessa Branson (none other than Sir Richard’s sister), which probably gives you an idea of the sort of luxury you’re in store for. Ideally located right off the central Djemaa el-Fna, it’s not only one of the best Marrakech riads, it's a sanctuary of the most stylish and indulgent kind. The 21 bedrooms are all individually designed and packed full of Vanessa’s personal art collection (it's worth keeping an eye out for beautiful works by Bridget Riley and sketches by Anthony Gormley), while relaxing with a mint tea amongst the scattered cushions in one of the candlelit courtyards under the stars is a wonderfully atmospheric way to start the evening.
Riad Dar Sara
We’re not really supposed to be biased here on team ELLEuk, but Riad Dar Sara is a personal favourite. It’s undoubtedly tricky to find, but once you’ve slipped through the heavy wooden door into the orange tree-filled courtyard, you're met with complete tranquillity. It may be a little less extravagant than one or two of our other best riad in Marrakech picks, but it’s no less beautiful: cool whitewashed walls, traditional Moroccan furnishings, a small pool, and an expansive roof terrace make it a complete haven. Plus, the resident chef whips up a mean lemon chicken tagine. The best bit of all is that rooms start from as little as £48 – luxury on a shoestring, what more could you want?
For anyone who's thinking about their Christmas shopping already, Riad Meriem is perfectly located right outside the main souks - souks that are packed full of beaded slippers, tea glasses, fine leather goods and all manner of things that sparkle. Retreating back to the riad after a hard day's haggling, you’ll be greeted with cool flagstone floors, filigree lanterns, a hammam-style pool and five exquisitely decorated bedrooms. The tented roof terrace opens out onto panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains and makes for the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner by candlelight.
Dar Darma well and truly ups the stakes in the glamour department in our pick of Marrakech riads - think rich velvets, leopard skins (we don’t mean prints) and distressed metal stripes. It sounds like it shouldn’t work but it does. Exceptionally well. The 17th-century building has been sensitively restored with 300-year-old zouak ceilings and is so packed full of antiques that you won’t know what to marvel at first. The hammam can be described as nothing less than cocoon-like; afterwards you can retreat, in a blissed-out state, to one of the five palatial suites and beds.
Most riads open upwards to the sky, streaming light into the courtyards during the day and revealing twinkling night skies come sundown. Riad Ariha is no exception. In fact, once you’ve got yourself thoroughly wrapped up in the serenity of the place, it can be pretty hard to leave. Nowhere is this more the case than when you're up on the roof terrace, with its low-slung seating areas and overstuffed cushions, wrought-iron lanterns and sweeping views over the Atlas Mountains. And if the smell of home-cooked food does tempt you down from the roof, then you’re in for a treat – the tagines are well worth it.
Like our pick of the best Marrakech riads? Check out our full Marrakech guide.