Riad Al Jazira

Marrakech, Morocco Book from

Reviewed by Viv Monahan
Hippie deluxe: a beautifully restored trio of 17th-century riads hidden in Marrakech's medina, keenly priced and very chilled with just 15 rooms
The warren-like, almost subterranean tunnels leading to the door of this unpretentious riad are, frankly, unpromising. Outside it’s all hustle, bustle, barrows, the cries of the muezzins and high, blank walls. But inside it’s a jaw-dropping scene-shift to a palmy oasis at this hippie deluxe riad, where 3 courtyard homes have been converted into a single stylishly understated residence.

15 spotless, blisteringly white guestrooms are hidden behind heavy wooden doors and layers of linen drapes. Airy central covered courtyards have comfy seating areas: red rugs on golden brick floors, leafy palms over wooden chaises and - spectacularly - a colonnaded swimming pool in a setting reminiscent of great Carthage. Colourful accents are provided by red or purple cushions and kilims, and artfully arranged rose petals. We like this riad. It’s smart, cool and roomy enough to let you escape to in some forgotten salon when you need to; and you get budget prices with no scrimping on style or comfort.


  • Covered courtyards keep out the cold in winter but still give you those delicious, spirit-lifting blue skies
  • Oasis feel, especially around the small pool, with cosy niches to make your own
  • Delicious, help-yourself breakfasts with Italian coffee
  • Decidedly un-ethnic art cleverly lifts the décor into the 21st century
  • Just a 10 minutes walk from Djemaa El Fna


  • Service can be a bit hit and miss, be prepared to order coffee twice and, inshallah, it will get there in the end
  • Steep, winding steps aren’t great for toddlers or if you have any mobility problems
  • Guestrooms are uniformly long and narrow
  • Courtyard acoustics amplify some sounds better kept en famille
  • There’s a 100-yard approach to the riad which can only be made on foot

Best time to go

Spring and autumn are the least challenging times to visit Marrakech, which is now an all-year round destination. Because the courtyards are covered and the rooms individually heated, the riad is great for long weekends, even in winter. And the cool, white rooms make a welcome escape from high summer temperatures which can top 40º C.

Our top tips

An on-call tattooist will paint a scorpion or a daisy chain on your back for about a fiver. It’s done in henna and, as long as you don’t go straight down to the hammam, it will last a week or so.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Riad Hotel
  • 15
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service


The 15 guestrooms are arranged along flower-filled balconies around the courtyards, each hidden behind heavy Moorish doors-within-doors, keyhole arches, and windows dressed with intricate iron grilles or wooden moucharabieh. All can be made up as doubles or twins, and most are identical, furnishings are basic but comfortable: big soft pouffes, a low table, bouncy beds and clothes hanging space and shelves fronted by linen drapes. The only difference between the Standard Rooms and the Superior Rooms is the amount of space you have.

Bathrooms are stylish: polished wooden or tadelakt basins beneath copper taps, showers with satisfying water pressure, lots of room to put your toiletries, and well-lit mirrors make them better than your average medina bathroom.

Because the bedrooms have high ceilings and small windows, most of the light comes in through your open door, which, for privacy, is swathed in acres of creamy linen. It’s enough to make you come over all Hideous Kinky: drag cushions into corners on the balconies and sip mint tea while sketching the tumbling trailing plants that fill every nook and cranny. It doesn’t get much more Sixties than this. Reassuringly though, hygiene’s improved since then and rooms are absolutely spotless, with electric fans for the summer months and heaters for winter.

Exclusive use of the Whole Riad is available, and is an ideal place for a wedding group - or for a group of family and friends celebrating a special occasion - to retreat to.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Terrace
  • WiFi


Continental breakfast at the Al Jazira, which is included in your room rate, is taken on low tables around the pool. It’s all very civilised: you can expect freshly pressed orange and grapefruit juice (or whatever’s seasonal), Italian coffee, English and Moroccan tea, a variety of fresh breads, cumin-seasoned hardboiled eggs, and baskets of those thick, square Moroccan pancakes (unpronouncably called m’smn) that you spread with butter and fig jam. Help yourself to as much as you can eat.

During the day, you can have fresh juices, mint tea and coffee in the courtyards, or request a simple, traditional lunch or dinner - couscous, tagines, pastillas and fresh fruit are the order of the day. Or head out to any of the excellent coffee shops, cheap eateries and fine restaurants ten minutes’ walk away in the medina.

In common with much of Morocco, the riad does not serve alcohol, but guests are welcome to bring their own.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Soak up the early morning (or the late afternoon) sun on the riad’s roof terrace: this is where the horizon is punched by minarets and satellite dishes, cacti and treetops, and washing lines full of billowing sheets and pillowslips. It’s the perfect place for watching the sun fall behind the palms, or the full moon race above the clouds

  • Explore the souks - they’re only a short walk away and they’re both safe and interesting. Each area is devoted to one type of produce: leather, spices, woodwork, babouches (you can’t go home without a pair of toe-crushing bejewelled slippers or no-one will believe you’ve even been to Marrakech). If you’re happy to pay over the odds for what you buy, go on your own. Otherwise, take a guide

  • Scrub up in the hammam - if you’ve come down from the Atlas mountains, you’ll want at least the top two layers of skin removed. You’ll need to book - the riad’s hammam is small and popular

  • If you don’t get lost, a ten minute walk will take you to the razzling dazzling Djemaa El Fna where you can buy woolly hats, watch a snake charmer, listen to a story teller or drink a fresh orange juice on a terrace overlooking the hubbub

  • Take a ride in a caleche, a horse-drawn carriage, around the rampart walls. You can pick one up near the Café France, just off the main square

  • The riad can also organise pottery, cooking and dance courses for a minimum of 4 people and if arranged in advance - see Rates

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming


Families will appreciate this good value, unpretentious and friendly riad. The three courtyards provide space and some privacy for families. You can also book out the whole riad for family reunions and special occasions. Under 3 years olds and cots are free.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots and extra beds can be provided on request in all Superior Rooms


Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Large pool

    Families Should Know:

    The riad isn't suitable for over-confident toddlers in our opinion: the pool has no guard rail or attendants, and the steep twisty steps aren’t for learners. The open doorways together with courtyard acoustics tend to amplify noise, so teething babes might not be appreciated by fellow guests

  • Distances:

    • Airport: 20 minutes
    • Shops: 3 minutes
    Kid Friendly:

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