HOTEL WANDERLUST: STAYING IN A RIAD IN MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

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They’re unassuming, achingly beautiful and homely. For the privileged few, a riad is the quiet sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the streets of Marrakech. Walking through the city walls of the medina, the senses are assaulted with bright colours, large sounds and delicious smells. It is very easy to get lost in Marrakech and there are numerous places to stay, from five star hotels to low budget backpackers. However if you plan on visiting the vibrant city, make sure you choose a riad for your accommodation.

Rich in history, a riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. In fact the word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, ryad. Inwardly focused, which allow for family privacy and protection from the harsh weather, this allowed a central location for the interior gardens and courtyards. Subsequently, there are usually no windows on the exterior. This design principle supports the Islamic notions of privacy and hijab for women.

Walking down countless winding narrow laneways, which get quieter the further you walk, it is very easy to get lost when trying to find the front door of your riad. Usually you will find yourself at a totally ordinary door without any bells or whistles. When I was in Marrakech, I had no idea if I was even knocking on the right door. However, when the door opened I felt like I had stepped into the garden of Eden. Paradise, found.