No need for a hotel in Marrakesh (Hotel review: Riad Irene)

Given its stature as a huge tourist destination there are surprisingly few hotels in Marrakesh. Those that do exist are nearly all outside the heart (and walls) of the old city, the Medina. And yet the Medina does not lack for places to stay within her walls, thanks to the many, many Riads that exist in the tiny back alleys and around random corners. A Riad is much more like a bed-and-breakfast than a hotel. Generally they are small (ours was only7 rooms) and run by a family who manages the property as well as cooking and other tasks.

IMGP7936Nearly every door within the Medina is rather unassuming. No need to advertise to the outside world your great wealth or sense of style. But step in to a Riad, behind that simple door, and you will discover an oasis away from the crazy that is Medina life. The Riads are built around a central courtyard with rooms and galleries on each side. Some have pools while nearly all have a roof deck from which you can catch a glimpse of the surrounding area without the noise or crowds pressing down on you.

Our stay in Marrakesh was at the Riad Irene. Charming and unassuming, Riad Irene is located at the northern edge of the Medina. Indeed, it wasn’t even on the maps that our guidebook offered that vaguely attempted to show how the Medina is laid out. And while this led to us getting a bit lost more than once, it also meant that we were way outside the hustle and bustle but still close enough that it was an easy walk to be in that scene when we desired.

The room was perfectly functional and breakfast each morning included pastries and a hot option, pancakes or crepes of some sort, to go along with fresh juice, coffee and tea. Free WiFi that I got to fix while I was there to actually make it functional worked in all the rooms and even up on the roof deck.


Ahhhhhh, the roof deck. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t a better way to enjoy the Medina than from above it. And the views were stunning. The chaos of the Medina unfolding in front of you in the form of buildings, wires, laundry, small gardens and satellite dishes. And then the Atlas mountains providing the backdrop on the horizon.


Indeed, no need for a hotel at all in Marrakesh, so long as you can find a Riad with rooms available.

Read more of my Marrakesh adventures here!

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.