Every nook and cranny of Morocco just begs to be photographed, from forgotten corners of the souks to brilliant white seaside villages. But the jewel in the country’s Instagram crown is the riad hotel – converted traditional courtyard houses that are unique to Morocco.
Staying in one of these architectural gems, with their geometric tiles and shaggy Berber rugs, is like stepping into the pages of an interiors magazine. It’s not surprising that the very best of them have a devoted following on social media, like the over-snapped shot of the pool at Le Riad Yasmine in Marrakech. Its turquoise tiles, mint-striped cushions and artful fronds of greenery provide the ultimate background for your own photo shoot – although it might be a tad oversubscribed by now. Beat the crowds and find the next big thing by staying at one of these five alternatives.
What Art Deco gem with cool green garden and honey-coloured interiors.
Where Tangier, on Morocco’s northern coast on the Strait of Gibraltar. This formerly dingy port city has been transformed with a new marina and business district. La Maison feels tucked away in the suburbs, but is still central – just a handy five-minute walk from the Grand Socco marketplace.
Who goes With only five rooms and three suites, La Maison is designed for an easygoing escape – think crisp white sheets, orange trees in the courtyard and sweet reading nooks to hole up in for hours.
The USP The jade-green, tiled pool and generous breakfasts of juicy fruit, fresh eggs, homemade bread and creamy yoghurt.
What The most modern riad on the list, chic and understated Dar Maya, with its bright white interiors, clean lines and Art Deco fireplaces, is as fresh as the Essaouira sea breeze.
Where In the surf city of Essaouira, the riad is just a few minutes’ walk from the beach, where blue fishing boats bob out in the distance and waves crash on the crenellated sea walls.
Who goes Beach bums and music fans – the town plays host to the Gnaoua World Music Festival in June.
The USP When Morocco’s frenetic, occasionally overwhelming souks all get a bit too much, seek solace in Dar Maya’s softly lit hammam. Full body scrub, anyone?
What This boutique riad was recently renovated by interior designer Willem Smit and a crack team of Moroccan artisans. It has its own hammam, and a bar on the roof terrace with views across the city.
Where Buzzy Marrakech, in the popular Bab Doukkala district of the medina about 15 minutes’ walk from Jemaa el-Fnaa square and on the doorstep of shisha bars, art galleries and fragrant tea shops.
Who goes Young couples who want to feel the pulse of the city but still want to chill out at the end of a dusty day of exploring.
The USP The courtyard pool here gives Riad Yasmine a run for its money, and makes the perfect spot for an aperitif and that all-important Instagram shot.
What All chalky white walls and grand, intricately painted cedar doors.
Where Fes is slightly off-the-beaten path compared to Morocco’s other cities (though Etihad Airways flies direct to Rabat, a two-hour drive away), but it’s worth it. The city is touted as the calmer, quieter antidote to the madness of Marrakech.
Who goes Foodies on a pilgrimage to Morocco’s culinary capital, to taste dishes like the tagine, the legendary rich and fragrant, slow-cooked stew.
The USP Dar Seffarine really is all about the decor. The building is over 600 years old and it took 25 craftsmen two years to restore it to the jaw-droppingly gorgeous standard you see today – a true labour of love.
Dar El Kebira
What Like staying in an ornate palace dripping with mosaics, carved wood panelling and antique furniture, Dar El Kebira’s 10 rooms (and nine more in nearby Dar El Kebira Salam) are an education in traditional Moroccan decor.
Where Rabat. Morocco’s capital is often overlooked, but with a seaside location, a 12th-century kasbah and an easily walkable centre, it’s time to add this city to your must-visit list.
Who goes History buffs on a pilgrimage to the city who want to stay in a traditional grand Moroccan house.
The USP Breakfast on the rooftop terrace with panoramic views.