Etymologically speaking, the word ‘Riad’ originates from the Arabian term meaning garden. As legend goes, when Marrakesh was founded in the 11th Century, the ruling Sultan had a sumptuous palace built for himself and his servants, comprising of numerous buildings set in beautiful gardens, with intrinsic outhouses and edifices, all enclosed in a blind wall, like a hidden private city. This first Riad paved way for the concept to develop and adapt, passed down through centuries of Moroccan dynasties and discoveries. Over time, the original concept of an enclosed building in a garden setting has been embellished by traditions of adorned archways, additional upper stories, geometric sculpture work and monumental fountains.
Today, Riads are synonymous with luxury pampering; a riad is defiant in the face of generic hotel culture and acts as a testament to the limitless possibility of imagination when it comes to hospitality. Tucked away around many a Marrakesh corner, and wall a plethora of beautiful and elaborate Riads subside, offering accommodation of the highest quality. Many propose spa treatments, steam rooms, pools and restaurant, yet each differs in their mood, setting and design.
Ultra stylish Riad Enija is a top choice for many a Marrakesh bound celeb. A converted 200 year old silk traders’ palace, the Riad is composed of 3 houses filled with antique and elegant objects. Breakfast is provided, as well as evening dining, which is served on round mosaic tables, each one hidden between luscious tropical plants and stone columns, set out in a fabulously exotic courtyard. Rooms are meticulously decorated, with rich textiles, flowing tapestries and four poster beds. Morning awaits you with fresh fruit, and then a 2 course breakfast of pastries, fresh orange juice, homemade breads and jams.
Yet, if you are attracted to the idea of a Riad for its promise of tradition and heritage, Dar Sbihi is definitely a timeless choice. The owners have used classical Moroccan technique and local craftsmanship to create a design which perfectly balances simplicity and meticulous attention to detail. Enjoy each curve of the hard-carved archways, the poignancy of the tiled walkways around the perfectly cultivated gardens. Rooms are effortless spectacular, each unique yet sharing the overall theme of blue mosaic tiled walls and wooden fixtures.
La sultana is the place for the best spa treatment; the spa is a beautifully lit room offering a ‘Hammam’ (Moroccan bath) for washing away the city’s impurities, a Jacuzzi, sauna beauty centre and a hydrotherapy bath. Treatments can be taken out in the open air, on the pavilion of the roof, for you to afterwards relax on sun loungers and admire the stunning rooftop views of the outstretching Kasbah.