Moroccan Riads – Lessons in Hospitality

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Moroccan Riads are a classroom for people interested in Hospitality

If you pay attention, the things you experience in Moroccan Riads will teach you more about hotels and how to be a good host than anything else.

Riads are more than just traditional Moroccan houses, they’re enchanted worlds bathed in sweet scents and Berber music, vintage furniture, and a myriad of colorful textiles dressing each corner. But the ethereal ambiance of a Moroccan Riad might lie in its walls, its architecture – not in a tangible sense, but in its power to let your imagination run wild.

When looking from the outside, nothing sparks the interest of the viewer – walls are too high to see beyond, no windows to let you glance inside and no decorations to admire. A beautiful door is the only element that breaks the monotony of this plain architecture.

So when stepping inside, you’re dazzled each time by this magnificent world, and your sense of wonder will surely be accompanied by the feeling that a secret realm was open just for you.

Patterned Berber carpets, Zellige (Moroccan mosaics) on each column, floor or over-sized wooden door, birds singing in the few palm trees around, silk curtains embellishing sitting areas, a small pool, and blue fountains are some of the sweet details that create a magical vibe within each Riad.

Walking in each room feels like landing in an Arabian Nights story, with soft pillows, handmade stainless lamps, handcrafted wood furniture painted in vivid colors, and a kaleidoscope of dreamy textures.

Still, the secret to Moroccan Riads doesn’t reside in the traditional feel or the beauty of these houses, but in the charm and opportunity that small spaces provide.

Small spaces hold a remarkable power: to nourish relationships, especially within a couple, but not restricted to one. And this tiny nugget of insight is more than a nice read about interiors and home design.

Two years ago, an unpleasant event in my home led to an unwanted, but amazing experiment with the power of small spaces. All summed up, we were restricted to using 3 out of the 4 rooms in the apartment for almost two months. As a result, our relationship flourished and we discovered so many tiny details about each other, the kind you miss when going about your daily routines.

Moroccan Riads hone this power of small spaces

Most are one-floor houses, with six to eleven rooms, and three or four people around, taking care of the guests.

Moroccans working in a Riad have an elegance about their spirit and a fascinating openness you’ll rarely find in the hospitality business. Conversations run smoothly, smiles are exchanged, pampering is included, and desires are anticipated.

The manager of a Riad takes at least 20 minutes each day for every guest, sparking an interesting conversation about traditions and attractions, being helpful, and trying to cater to your every wish: a relaxing hammam, a special dish, a massage or a visit to a beautiful place.

Moroccan people redefine the concept of “hotel manager” 

He is not just a person in an office who you’ll never meet unless you have a big problem, as it’s the case with most European hotels.

The Moroccan hotel manager is a charming man, always present at breakfast, lunch or dinner, always with a smile on his face and ready to help, pour you tea, or even take you on a walk to the downtown hammam to retrieve your tangia.

He will give you recipes in a 5-minute break from his other duties, walk with you for 1km in the medina’s arid heat to retrieve your car, find you a better parking space, and cook you a meal that takes 5 hours.

Being pampered also earns new meanings in Morocco. You always feel like a guest of honor, special without being embarrassed by the attention, like a dear friend just welcomed you into his house.

These people are so warm and personal, smiling naturally, passionate about their work, and proud to introduce you to Morocco’s magical realm. It’s hard not to upgrade your hotel standards after such a splendid experience.

Thank you, Mohamed.
Thank you, Samir.

You’ve both taught me more about the hospitality business than I would have ever dreamed.

*Mohamed is the manager of Riad Melhoun & Spa Marrakech, Samir manages Riad Fes Baraka.


Riad Fes Baraka – Fes, Morocco


Riad Melhoun & Spa – Marrakech, Morocco

Road Trip in Morocco: Marrakech, FezChefchaouenRabat, Casablanca, Imlil –  the Atlas Mountains, Rif Mountains | October 2017All Photography ©Ana Matei > Instagram: @MateiAna

Read more about Morocco:

3 Moroccan Riads for your Moroccan Holiday >

Moroccan Food Culture & Tour >

Exploring Fez, the best preserved old city in the Arab world >

Rabat, Morocco in 24 hours >

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