"Walk alongside a dry stone wall, push open an anonymous large door that resembles all the other doors, walkthrough a dark corridor… and there you discover the calm and the freshness of the courtyard, the murmur of the fountain in between the orange trees, jasmin falling from the terrace in sweet-smelling cascades.With a garden beautifully laid out, the riad is a vestige of a lost paradise".
(From Anonymous French Eastern poet from the late 19th century)
This is how the poet describes a riad…Built in the heart of the médina of certain towns (Rabat, Fes, Marrakech.. ), riads display a fine example of traditional architecture : Andalusia and Arabic style arches, finely sculpted plaster, columns… In short, all the traditional elements of the arabic-andalusian culture. The oldest riads are made from pisé (a mixture of earth, stone and straw compressed together), an extremely solid material that is also an efficient heat insulator.
Pisé is also the materal used to build kasbahs, the historic fortresses of South Morocco, whose solidity was enough to scare off a potential aggressor.
The typical riad is built around an inner courtyard in which you'll find 4 garden sections, full of flowers and trees, with a fountain or a small pool at the centre : legend would have us believe that this is a representation of the Garden of Eden, riad certainly being the arabic word for garden. The courtyard quite often has an outside salon, tucked in the recess of one its walls. This salon is called a bou'hou.
The reception rooms, the largest and most finely decorated of all, are usually on the ground floor. The other rooms are found on the first floor. Overlooking all this, you will find the rooftop terrace, traditionally reserved for the domestic chores and chatting between the women of the neighbouring riads. Today, under the European influence, the terraces have become a place for dining, for relaxing etc… In the summer, life revolves around the ground floor where it is naturally cooler, and in the winter, life moves upstairs !
A Riad welcomes several branches of the same family making it a community house. The social status of the family determines the size of the riad and the degree of luxury inside. If a building doesn't meet all the criteria to be called a riad, it is called a Dar (house).
To spend some time in a riad or a Dar is above all an art of living, a privilege. It is a living history lesson, experiencing unique places that you would not be able to discover by chance just out walking…Because the golden rule of a riad is to be hidden in the town.
Small traditional house with charm ( typical and tasteful decoration – a simple, all round comfort ), a bathroom and sanitary facilities for a maximum of 2 bedrooms, service by permanent staff, possibility of ordering meals at the riad. Ideal for those with limited budget looking for authenticity.
Traditional house with character ( typical and tasteful decoration – a simple, all round comfort ) communal areas available, a bathroom and sanitary facilities for almost every bedroom, service by permanent staff, possibility of ordering meals at the riad. Ideal for those looking for a cosy, family atmosphere.
Nice house (small riad or charming house) with a family atmosphere, a relaxed welcome : communal areas (salon, dining room), pretty bedrooms, a bathroom and sanitary facilities for almost every bedroom (certain houses occasionally have 2 bedrooms sharing a bathroom), service by permanent staff, possibility of ordering meals at the riad.
Very nice riad, charming house or villa, beautiful areas with fine facilities (swimming pool, hammam or Jacuzzi for certain), meticulous decoration, communal areas (salons, dining room), beautiful suites and bedrooms, private ensuite bathroom for each room, quality service by permanet staff, possibility of ordering meals at the riad.
Riads, charming houses or villas with remarkable architecture, high quality facilities : large courtyards for the riads with either swimming pool, hammam or jacuzzi, large gardens and pool for the villas, mateculous and refined decoration, spacious communal areas (salons, dining rooms…), beautiful suite and bedrooms, privates ensuite bathroom for each room, quality service by paermanent staff, possibility of ordering meals at the riad.