1. Best for history: Riad Star
The riad where jazz era star and resistance heroine Josephine Baker once stayed is now a quirky venue for discovering the city’s lesser-known sights. Opened in 2013, it is hidden along a narrow alley. Reached on foot, the manager sends helpers to take your bags and walk you through the bustling medina streets. A wooden door in the wall opens to reveal seven rooms centred around a small covered courtyard with its own rose petal-strewn plunge pool.
Rooms are spacious with large comfortable beds. There is also a small hammam on the terrace where guests can be vigorously pummelled and scrubbed by a local therapist, before dining on local specialties in the riad’s small restaurant. (riadstar.com)
2. Best on a budget: Riad Al Jazira
It’s difficult to find the door leading into this medina riad but once inside, the space is astounding. Made from several riads removed to make one, there are 15 rooms overlooking a huge courtyard with a magnificent colonnaded swimming pool. Bright rugs and sofas invite lounging and there are lots of brightly-coloured cushions and flowers in pots. Since this riad is a budget option, rooms are comfortable but fairly basic with low tables and comfortable beds. (riad-aljazira.com)
3. Best for home-style cooking: Dar Najat
A 10-minute walk from the main square, Djemaa Al Fna, this is another difficult-to-find riad in the middle of Marrakech’s ancient medina quarter, but it’s worth seeking out. Renovated like a typical Moroccan home, the walls are covered with local artwork and there’s a lovely terrace where you can relax with a mint tea. Seven good-value rooms are comfortable, but there are no telephones or TVs. With a bijou restaurant serving a sapid selection of tagines and other Moroccan specialities, food is the strong point of this charming little riad. (dar-najat.com)
4. Best for hipsters: Riad Edward
More like a private club than a riad hotel, this hip property is built around a large pool surrounded by daybeds where you can lounge and listen to chillout music. There are ten rooms decorated in wildly different styles, but all of the rooms are dazzling, with carved wooden ceilings, ornate fireplaces and glittering tile work. (riyadedward.com)
Five things you must do in Marrakech
1 Visit the brand new YSL museum. Opening in October, and covering an area of 4,000sqm, it will have a permanent exhibition space displaying Yves Saint Laurent’s work, as well as a 130-seat auditorium, a bookshop and a café. (museeyslmarrakech.com/fr)
2 Explore the souks – from spices to woodwork and leather, each area is devoted to a different product.
3 Soak in a hammam – there are plenty of these traditional bathhouses all over town.
4 Hang out on Djemaa Al Fna – the city’s main square is the place to drink fresh orange juice, get a henna tattoo or watch the snake charmers.
5 See the sights in a caleche – a horse-drawn carriage that starts from the main square and goes on a tour of the city walls.