Riad – the traditional Moroccan house is now a luxurious boutique hotel

10 September, 2015 | Share: |

Kingdom of Morocco … exotic place, like just came out of One Thousand and One Nights stories, perched on the northwestern coast of the African coast, with access to the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Here their culture left Berbers, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Vandals, Moors, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs; various noble dynasties; Spanish and French colonizers. The transfer of power over the years has marked nowadays Morocco in every respect. Religion, culture, people, architecture … Today Moroccans are mainly of Arab and Berber origin (91%), here and there a little Africans and Europeans and 99% of the population professes Islam. The official languages are Arabic and Berber, as a large part of the population speaks French too. Larger towns are Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Marrakech and Tangier and a number of sites in this ancient land are under the protection of UNESCO.

After a brief historical detour, time has come to move on to what we agreed – I would write, and you will read about – the traditional Moroccan home.

Here live bright colors, colorful ceramics, lavish gardens, extravagant decorations.
Traditional Moroccan house of old time is called “riad” – from the Arabic word for garden “ryad”. And of course, there is necessarily a garden in it – with orange and lemon trees (usually four), often with a fountain (in the middle of the “square”, the trees form). Its architecture is entirely focused on providing privacy of the family. Simple front door and walls hide richly decorated home and its inhabitants. History whispers they served as a dining room and/ or bedroom, as in older riads they had no windows but two large doors with two smaller ones in them – only open in the summer for coolness, but still partitioned with a curtain for preserving privacy.
On the second floor, there are more rooms with various purposes. Small rooms with low ceilings, located between the main floors were used for storing belongings. Older riads have balconies overlooking the courtyard.
On the roof level of the Riad there is also a balcony – in the recent past reserved for women. Once they used to dry grains and laundry there or just slept out in the hot nights under the stars. The view from the roof of some of these houses is panoramic and breathtaking, but the older ones are surrounded by high walls, to protect the life of the family from prying eyes.
Another type of Moroccan house is the so called “dar”. It is a little bigger than riad and instead a garden patio, usually has a fountain in the center. The two types of houses have blurred over time.
Recent years, the traditional Moroccan riad (dar) having the luck to be located in the favorite tourist places in the old country, beat the dust from its rooms, shone in colors and started to host guests from around the world. Often it has a swimming pool and hammam. To accommodate more people, to the usual four to eight bedrooms of the property, often are joined adjacent old houses. The result is an exotic maze of greenery and history. “Riad” is now synonymous with authentic but luxurious boutique hotel. Behind its walls and gates, the stunned tourists revel in authentic atmosphere with modern facilities and … privacy.