What is a riad?

What is a riad in Marrakech?

What is a riad?


If you are looking at options for where to stay in Marrakech you will have discovered some terms that you are perhaps unfamiliar with!

As well as hotels, Marrakesh, or Marrakech accommodation is also available in places referred to as a riad or a dar.

So, what is a riad? Or a ryad? And what is a dar? Is a dar also a riad? If not, what is the difference?

Well, a riad is a traditional Moroccan house or it can even be a palace if it’s really big and sumptuous, with a garden on the inside in the centre of the building. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, “ryad”.

To help you understand what is a riad, consider the following:

The structure of most houses in the western world is a solid block with windows looking to the outside and if there is a garden, it is on the outside, going around the outside of the house. People who are passing in the street can generally see in to the garden.

A riad is the opposite to this. It’s as if an exterior wall is erected to fence off the plot of land, and then everything is constructed inside these walls, including the garden. So the exterior walls form the walls of the house and in the middle, a wide open space is left, with an opening up to the sky, where a garden is planted. Windows in the rooms open on to the inside of the house overlooking the interior garden. These houses, or riads, are all joined together, like terraced houses, but not just on two sides of the property, but all sides. Sometimes the only visible outside wall of a property that is not joined to another is the part around the front door.

What is a riad?

So you can imagine now, that this riad design creates an incredibly private, secret world, hidden behind a wooden door. Riads make wonderful retreats to hide away from the outside world and they also make fabulous guest house and hotel accommodation.

What is a dar?

A dar is a smaller version of a riad, without the interior garden. It still has the interior space in the middle, just a bit smaller, without trees planted in the soil. If you remember that riad is arabic for garden, then dar is arabic for house.

It’s really just a technicality – nowadays not many riads that operate as guest house accommodation actually have a garden or trees growing in the centre. Most have instead opted to put a small swimming pool, and the remaining area will be paved.

When referring to holiday accommodation, riads and dars are all referred to generally as riads.

For more a more in-depth explanation visit the wikipedia page for an explanation of Moroccan riad.

What is a riad in Marrakech

The Marrakech medina is a mass of many thousands of riads all joined together. Marrakech riads that operate as guest houses currently number around 1,500. They are typically referred to as boutique riads, boutique hotels, guest houses, and bed and breakfast.

Book riad accommodation Marrakech

As someone choosing a Marrakech riad for a holiday in Marrakech, apart from price and whether you like the style and decor of the riad, there will be other factors to consider, for example:

  • Does the riad have English speaking staff?
  • Will they cater for a gluten free diet?
  • Have other guests written positive feedback on TripAdvisor?
  • Will they organise airport transfers?
  • Do they offer no hassle day trips from Marrakech?
  • Will they give us a map and a good explanation of what to see?
  • Is it a gay friendly riad?

When you find one that ticks all the boxes, book it! 🙂

Our own Marrakech Riad is Dar Zaman – it means “old house”.   It’s the perfect base for an adventure in the Marrakech medina. If you like what you see, contact our riad reservations staff today to book riad accommodation in Marrakech.