One of my favorite things about Morocco:
Getting to stay in the Riads there.
Riads were former palaces or private residences that are now run as guesthouses. Every one I went to was restored beautifully and opulently decorated.
Every single one of them was a surprising find. You might be wandering a really dilapidated alleyway in the medina with a sinking fear that your hotel is on this street. They are generally marked with just a small plaque on a big, heavy door. Once you open the giant door and step inside, it's magic.
Traditionally, women were not meant to be seen, so the courtyards are facing inward to avoid any chance of interaction. This ends up being a modern blessing as well since you are now isolated from the noise and smog from an outside-facing window. Many of the riads had a pool, and most of them had a rooftop garden and patio as well. Because winters are a brief affair, the courtyards are either open to the elements or protected with a retractable roof.
The rooms were pretty swank. Most of them had very high ceilings, and completely ornate ones at that.
Our favorite one was in Rabat- Dar Karima. It was a lovely place to stay, but what made it was how the people who ran it were the best hosts.
Warm and welcoming, and they invited us to dinner with their family. Huge platters of fresh, fried whole fish. Oysters. Couscous. So much mint tea.
When it came up in conversation that we were yogis, they called their friend who was a yoga instructor and we did yoga in their courtyard first thing in the morning.
They were the best, and I would head back to Rabat just to stay with them again.
Most of the Riads only have a few rooms. It's best to book in advance. It seems like Morocco is a bit hurting for tourist dollars as there were just a few choice places that were fully booked. No one turned us down if we opted to stay an extra night either. In Chefchouen, we were the only people in our entire hotel.
Riad al Bartal in Fes was by far the most ornate. Our two-story room had a fireplace, gorgeous tile work and carpets, and a very green-thumb gardener attending the courtyard.
You felt a little bit royal staying there.
Every place we stayed had fantastic breakfasts: Carb-heavy with lots of Moroccan breads, honey, butter, cheese, jams and fresh OJ.
Compared to the relative craziness of the streets, these were all lovely places to call home for a few nights.