Accommodation in Morocco varies widely and, apart from the large chain hotels and tourist resorts, most places to stay do not have official star ratings. This does not mean, however, that they are not good quality. Many guesthouses and maisons d’hôte in places like Marrakech, Fez and Essaouira are of a four- or five-star standard and, though they may not have certain amenities like televisions, minibars and telephones, they are often much more characterful. We've created a hand-picked list of some of the best places to stay in Morocco.
Bear in mind that prices fluctuate significantly between high and low seasons, and it is always worth asking about discounted rates during low seasons. During peak periods in the most popular destinations, booking ahead is essential. Marrakech, the High Atlas and the southern and desert regions are most popular over Easter, Christmas and New Year. July and August are very busy on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, when much of Morocco as well as France and Spain take their summer holidays. During the Gnaoua World Music Festival in Essaouira and the World Sacred Music Festival in Fez (both in June) accommodation is extremely hard to find.
Hotel standards vary hugely. There are many truly luxurious five-star hotels, renowned for their character and style, such as La Mamounia, the Royal Mansour and the Mandarin Oriental in Marrakech, Palais Jamai in Fez, El Minzah in Tangier and La Gazelle d’Or in Taroudant. Hotels in the next level down, the equivalent of a four-star hotel, are usually excellent but without the price tag of the highest-end hotel. For resort-style or chain hotels in this range, you can expect air conditioning, a pool, a good-quality restaurant or two, bar and rooms equipped with all the usual modern amenities. If the hotel in this range is a boutique hotel, such as a riad or maison d’hôte, expect more character, and perhaps fewer amenities but all the usual elements of a four-star hotel – excellent food, a high level of service and beautiful decor. These hotels are arguably the most popular places to stay in Morocco – for the experience, level of exoticism and personal service, they are very often the best and the best value for money.
For three-star levels, guests can expect a reasonable restaurant and bar, en suite facilities in all rooms and often a pool. Rooms will usually be modern and clean but can often lack character.
Budget hotels at the higher end have private facilities in most (but not all) rooms, sometimes a modest bar and restaurant, but rarely a pool, and at the bottom of the scale – in hostels and very basic budget hotels – quality varies wildly. Expect shared facilities, a basic restaurant/café (if any at all) and no amenities such as air conditioning.
Riads, auberges and maisons d’hôte
Unclassified hotels vary more widely than any other category and can charge what they like. In Morocco, however, these are for many the best places to stay – full of character and authenticity, with personal service and very good food, and which can also arrange, especially in place like Fez and Marrakech, tours, excursions and guides into the medinas, surrounding region or further afield. For more on riads, click here.
Avenue Bab Jdid, Southern Medina
tel: 0524 38 86 00
The ‘Grand Old Lady of Marrakech’, La Mamounia is the most iconic hotel in town, where everyone from Winston Churchill to the Rolling Stones have stayed. Having recently undergone a lavish restoration, she is back and better than ever. All rooms have a view of the magnificent gardens and Atlas Mountains. There are three elegant restaurants – Le Marocain, L’Italien and Le Français – as well as the legendary Churchill Bar, an award-winning spa, and a casino.
41 Derb Boutouil, Central Medina
tel: 0665 36 79 36
Minutes from Jemaa el Fna is one of the most stylish riads in the medina. Riad W is the height of simplicity with a fashionable and modern feel – stripped-back wooden doors and exposed brickwork, carefully placed antiques and stylish pieces of furniture. The rooms are cosy, there is a little plunge pool in the courtyard and the roof terrace is a lovely place to unwind and have breakfast or lunch.
25 Derb Ferrane, Azbest, Central Medina
tel: 0524 38 51 50
It’s all about attention to detail at this incredibly stylish riad. Clean white rooms are punctuated only by one-off pieces – an antique, a lantern, a vintage carpet or contemporary piece of furniture; it’s the exact opposite of heavy oriental design, yet cleverly inspired by Africa and Morocco. The staff are welcoming and discreet, and the food is excellent.
108 Rue de Berrima, Southern Medina
tel: 0524 38 27 40
Opposite the Royal Palace, there was once a wealthy merchant’s house… Today, that house has been transformed by architect Charles Boccara into one of the most opulent hotels in town. With carved stucco archways and elegant bedrooms with roaring fires and four-poster beds, you can imagine you’re living the life of a Moroccan sultan (or sultana). The hotel arranges excursions, cookery and photography courses and a ‘foodie harvest season’, involving olive pressing, picnicking and visits to the spice souks.
19 Derb el Ferrane, Riad el Arous, Northern Medina
tel: 0661 24 52 38
Don’t be put off by the scruffy alleyways you have to negotiate to get here. This is a blissfully peaceful little riad decorated with refreshing subtlety – whitewashed walls, simple fabrics, gentle colours. Two courtyards are shaded by a huge orange tree and banana plants and there is a secluded roof terrace with a cushion-filled Berber tent. The nine charming rooms are situated around the courtyards, there is a decorative pool, and dinner can be arranged on request.
31-33 Derb Jdid, Bab Doukkala, Northern Medina
tel: 0524 38 09 75
The co-owner of Riad Noir d'Ivoire is a designer and her hotel is the height of elegant, understated luxury. This is a mind-blowing yet subtle place: beautiful antiques placed artfully, a white sofa against a carved wooden door, a candlelit lantern in an alcove, soaring columns, jazz on the piano and linen billowing on the roof terrace. There are nine magnificent suites, two courtyards, a pool, library and gym. Winner of the Traveller's Choice Award 2011.
Rue Abou el Abbas Sebti, Central Medina
tel: 0524 80 80 80
Built by King Mohammed VI to celebrate the very best in Moroccan design and craftsmanship, this is one of the most spectacular hotels in the world. Accommodation is in one of 53 private riads, each with their own plunge pool. The two restaurants - French and Moroccan - are supervised by three-starred Michelin chef, Yanick Alléno; the spa has Sisley, Chanel and Dr Hauschka products; the bar has walls of rose gold and the library a star-gazing telescope.
72 Derb Arset Aouzal, Northern Medina
tel: 0524 38 76 29
In the heart of the prestigious Dar el Bacha quarter of the medina, this hip boutique riad evokes all the splendour of traditional Moroccan design and architecture, but with perfectly judged modern twists. The four suites are super romantic, there is a bookshop, a spa with hammam, as well as the services of a yoga teacher and masseuse. The roof terrace, one of the highest in the medina, has exceptional views.
Place des Nations Unies
tel: 0522 43 12 34
Conveniently located in the centre of town, with all the amenities of a modern five-star hotel, indlucing a squash court. Even if you are not staying here, come for a drink in the "Casablanca" bar, inspired, of course, by the film.
tel: 0522 40 19 84
Like other members in the Moussafir chain, this hotel is within spitting distance of the railway station. SImply furnished, but clean with good bathrooms and excellent service. Good value. Booking recommended.
tel: 0539 98 92 44
A stunning and excellent-value riad with seven gorgeous bedrooms, a sitting room with open fire and a roof terrace with chill-out area and views over to the Rif Mountains. Welcoming hosts and delicious Moroccan food.
Outa el Hamam
tel: 0539 98 63 24
A large, old-fashioned Spanish parador with pool (open in summer only), restaurant, bar and sweeping views over the town and mountains. Located in the heart of the medina, just off the main square.
tel: 0535 63 43 31
Nineteenth-century palace with beautiful gardens and views of Fez. Excellent Moroccan food in El Fassia restaurant, as well as a good French restaurant for those tired of tagines. Stay here if you possibly can. It is well worth spending extra for a room with a medina view.
14 Derb Sbaa Louyate
tel: 0671 11 35 28
Stunningly decorated boutique riad hotel in Seffarine, the oldest part of Fez el Bali. Six charming rooms and the possibility of renting the riad in its entirety.
Avenue Mohammed V
tel: 0539 93 78 70
Fantastically located, this 1950s stalwart remains a good option in the heart of the Ville Nouvelle. Large, but basic rooms and a decent bar (sometimes with piano player) overlooking the garden, outdoor pool and bay in the distance.
231 Route de la Montagne
tel: 0539 33 45 35
One of the most magical places to stay in the city. Situated on the Old Mountain, this idyllic colonial villa - built by Times journalist Walter Harris and the last summer residence of the Glaoui family - is a nostalgic, and luxurious, step back in time to the golden era of Tangier.
Read more about hotels in Morocco in Insight Guides: Morocco
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