Renting a Riad in Marrakech with Kids
After our jaunt into the Sahara we thought it would be nice to have a home base for a few days.
A riad is a house arranged around a central garden which is also located inside the medina (walled city). There are many riads inside Marrakech available to rent at all price points. Many are used as hotels when not rented out in entirety.
My sister found a rental property, Maison Africa, that seemed perfect for our family.
Maison Africa had a splash pool in the center of the courtyard that was lovely, but far too cold to use during our December visit. In addition to the three bedrooms, there was a living/dining room, a kitchen and a rooftop terrace that were perfect for our group. Each of the three bedrooms had several beds that could be arranged in different configurations.
Renting a riad gave us more schedule flexibility with the kids. Breakfast was at the Riad each morning. We just informed Muhammad (the house manager) what time we wanted breakfast and he had it ready on time. Moroccans’ typically eat dinner late. Most restaurants open around 7pm for dinner. Typically my kids go to bed before 7pm. We scheduled a few dinners to be cooked for us at the riad and a few nights we cooked for ourselves. After dinner Muhammad would make a fire in the living room and a large pot of mint tea for us to enjoy while the kids slept in their rooms upstairs.
Having the riad to ourselves also meant lots of space. The kids had plenty of space to play when we were not out exploring. We were also able to have kids napping or sleeping at different times while the adults all hung out together.
The riad also provided a cell phone for us to use in country, which was excellent. We carried this phone with us and were able to confirm reservations and touch base with Muhammad at the riad.
Since the riads are inside the walled city most are not reachable by car. There are guys with carts who will move your baggage from the “parking lot” to the riad if you cannot carry it yourself. I was prepared to walk from the car to the house but my mom was a bit shocked when the driver parked the car and started unloading in the street.
The disadvantage of being in the riad is dealing with the hustle and the bustle of the medina every day. Motorbikes speed down the crowded streets and there are people everywhere. I get easily overwhelmed by crowds. It took a day or two of being in the medina to adjust to all the people. I never fully felt comfortable. That being said, it was incredibly convenient to be walking distance from everything we wanted to do.
Your other option is to stay in a resort outside the medina. This would provide more western comforts. Our first night in Morocco we stayed in the Opera Plaza Hotel a modern resort outside the medina. It has a wonderful pool and several restaurant options.
It is really a matter of comfort for your family. Despite feeling completely overwhelmed when we ventured out I felt at peace and calm inside the walls of our riad.