Marrakech is the frenetic and famous city of Morocco. All the rumors are true: it really does have a collection of maze-like streets to get lost down, with countless street vendors selling everything from spices to leather, making it an intense and intriguing experience.
Stand in the madness of Jemaa el-Fnaa in the daytime and watch people bustle back and forth as you sip on a mint tea from a terrace cafe above all the craziness. Return at night time and watch as street food unfolds and the square gets, somehow, even busier.
Though there are a lot of hotels located outside of the more historical and bustling center of Marrakech, you could always brave this part of town. In fact, it wouldn’t even be ‘braving’ it if you chose to stay in a riad. These traditional walled homes went through a period of restoration in the 1960s and are now some of the most charming and luxurious places to stay in Marrakech – and all with the hustle of the Medina on your doorstep.
Map of Marrakech
1. Medina · 2. Kasbah · 3. Gueliz · 4. Hivernage · 5. Agdal · 6. Palmeraie
Speaking of history, Marrakech is undoubtedly full of it. The labyrinthine streets of the Medina themselves date back centuries. There are mosques here more than 800 years old, as well as sprawling botanic gardens of a similar age, stunning palaces, and ornate city gates.
And then there’s the French connection. Once a ‘protectorate’ of France, there is a legacy of boulevards, churches, and art galleries that make exploring Marrakech not only a visit to an old Imperial Islamic capital but a chance to dive headfirst into something strangely familiar and exotic all at the same time.
The historic center of Marrakech is made up of the Medina. This area is the old fortified city from which modern Marrakech sprang up around, and is therefore packed with all the cultural and historical sights that the city can afford.
Here, you will find the beautiful Bahia Palace, the imposing 12th-century mosque of Koutobia, and the stunning palace and gardens of Les Jardin Secret – amongst other attractions like museums and small, boutique art galleries.
This is home to the world-famous square of Jemaa el-Fnaa, right in the center of this already central area. Staying in this area of Marrakech means being close to the center of all the action. You can find yourself a bunk in a budget but boutique hostel for a snip or you could stay in the luxurious confines of a restored Riad, which will come with a price tag to match! There’s a lot to choose from.
Where to Stay in the Medina
- Les Jardins De La Koutoubia – This 5-star hotel most certainly boasts some ornate and palatial rooms for a decidedly upscale stay in Marrakech. In addition to the warmly decorated rooms, there’s a free breakfast served each morning, no less than two bars, and three different restaurants to choose from – as well as a billiards room, gym, indoor and outdoor pools. If that wasn’t enough, the location is also amazing; it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the Jemaa el-Fnaa square and the fantastic Koutoubia Mosque.
- Hotel & Ryad Art Place – There is a lot of style going on at this 5-star hotel, with traditional Moroccan touches and plenty of design-led furnishings spread throughout. In the guest rooms, you will find everything from geometric tiles to ornately woven rugs for a chic stay in the city. As well as a complimentary breakfast, guests can look forward to incredible views of the Atlas mountains from the rooftop terrace, as well as an outdoor pool, restaurant, and bar. In terms of location, this hotel is practically steps away from the hustle and bustle of Jemaa el-Fnaa.
- Riad Nasreen – When it comes to luxurious furnishings, Riad Nasreen has it covered. This place features warmly decorated rooms with touches of traditional décor, like carved wooden beds, ornate tiles, and plush furnishings. Complete with a stunning interior courtyard boasting a fountain, this traditional and polished riad is around two kilometers from the vendors of Jemaa el-Fnaa square, though you might not want to leave, what with the onsite hammam and indulgent spa, rooftop terrace, and tasty restaurant where you can sample the local cuisine.
- Riad Palais Sebban – Another of the traditional riads tucked away down the unassuming side streets of Marrakech, the Riad Palais Sebban is set in what used to be a palace back in the 18th century – so get ready for a regal stay. Alongside a hammam with various spa treatments on offer, there is also a compact onsite restaurant and bar for you to sample. Set along a cobbled alley, you will be able to walk for just under ten minutes and reach all the liveliness of Jemaa el-Fnaa from here.
Step through the famous 12th century Bab Agnaou gate that’s decorated with Quranic inscriptions and be welcomed into the royal Kasbah. The area is home to the modern day Royal Palace and, as such, a calmer, cleaner and more easy-going side to the city.
Surrounded by ramparts, the Kasbah is home to the ruins of the 16th century El-Badii Palace, as well as the 12th century Moulay El-Yazid Mosque, which was architecturally groundbreaking and remains one of the most important in the city.
The royal Saadian Tombs also impressive, with burial chambers decorated in ornate mosaic tiling and stucco. The Kasbah area has its own souks and street food stalls to enjoy and taste the flavors of the city. There are also plenty of upscale hotels to luxuriate in, alongside cool coffee shops and chic spas.
Where to Stay in the Kasbah
- Les Jardins De La Médina – With a bus stop on its doorstep, and only a few minutes’ walk from the sprawling and historic botanical gardens of the Jardins de l’Agdal, this 5-star hotel has it covered in terms of location. Here, you can learn to cook Moroccan-style with an in-house cooking class, enjoy an evening drink at the bar, and have breakfast in the dining room. There’s even a garden here, where guests will find the outdoor pool. Rooms are airy and elegant and come with their own satellite TVs.
- Riad Kasbah & Spa – The rooms at Riad Kasbah & Spa are all about refined, whitewashed elegance mixed with touches of traditional decor, making for a calm place to stay. Guests will also find a chic onsite restaurant, where you will be able to enjoy meals with mountain views. There’s also an indoor pool to splash around in. In terms of location, there’s a lot of history on the doorstep: the ruins of the 16th century El Badii Palace and the famous Saadien Tombs are within easy walking distance of this riad.
Just west of the old Medina area is the district of Guéliz. This part of this lively Moroccan city is known for its French heritage, laced as it is with wide, 19th-century boulevards, upmarket shopping opportunities, and a lot of chic dining options.
The affluence and the French connection continues, with interesting sights like the Majorelle Gardens. This sweet little spot, filled with grasses, cacti and eye-catching blue vases, was created by French painter Jacques Majorelle and later owned by none other than Yves Saint-Laurent.
Other sights include the French era Church of the Holy Martyrs, as well as various museums and galleries – like the Matisse Art Gallery or the David Bloch Gallery.
Guéliz is well placed for anyone arriving by train, with Marrakech Train Station just a stone’s throw away. Accommodation is, on the whole, a little more pricey than Medina, with less in the way of hostels, but still affordable.
Where to Stay in Gueliz
- Radisson Blu Hotel Marrakech Carré Eden – A sprawling hotel complex, this branch of Radisson Blu has it covered when it comes to modern, contemporary luxury. Rooms at this 5-star offering are spacious and streamlined, with plenty of light from the large windows. There’s a large outdoor pool for guests to enjoy, as well as a terrace restaurant which turns into a buzzing club after dark. The area surrounding the hotel is decidedly upscale, filled with shopping opportunities and chic restaurants – worlds away from Jemaa el-Fnaa, only three kilometers from here.
- 2Ciels Boutique Hôtel – 2Ciels Boutique Hôtel boasts funky, modern rooms that mix colorful, design-led boutique style with traditional touches and furnishings for a unique place to lay your head. Set amidst a choice of eateries and places to shop – as well as being across the road from the charming Parc El Harti – this 4-star hotel also features a spa, salon, hammam, and a variety of dining options, ranging from high-end seafood to tapas on the rooftop with fantastic city and mountain views.
- Hotel Almas – Comfortable, spacious, and with warm and simple yet stylish decor, the rooms at Hotel Almas come with their own balconies, which means you can sit and watch the world go by. There is an onsite restaurant where you can tuck into an evening meal, as well as an outdoor pool to splash around in, complete with sun loungers. Surrounded by eateries, galleries, and bars, this 3-star hotel is also just a 12-minute walk from Marrakech train station.
If you’re looking for a more polished and luxurious place to stay in Marrakech, Hivernage provides a sizable helping of central city nightlife combined sprawling high-end resorts.
Located away from the ornate magnetism of the Medina, Hivernage may not be as rich in history, but its wealth of entertainment and shopping options make it an attractive area to unwind and have fun in the city.
Don’t expect to find small passageways and roads clogged with street vendors here, instead, late-night casinos and nightclubs packed with wealthy patrons.
Set just to the south of Guéliz, Hivarangae is well connected by transport, with the city’s train station and many bus routes running through the area. This means it’s an easy journey to the bustling traditional districts of Marrakech further into the center.
Where to Stay in Hivernage
- Savoy Le Grand Hotel Marrakech – With its sprawling outdoor pools, an indoor pool, a selection of three restaurants, four bars to choose from, a chilled out spa area, and even a gym, the Savoy Le Grand Hotel Marrakech really exemplifies a 5-star stay in Marrakech. Waking up from a good night’s sleep in the plush, contemporary, and comfy rooms, guests are treated to a complimentary breakfast before they explore the leafy surrounding area; though there’s a bus stop on the doorstep if you’d like to go further afield. In the evening, you can explore the restaurants and bars nearby. As an added bonus, the airport is close by.
- Hivernage Hotel & Spa – Taking Marrakech luxury to the next level, Hivernage Hotel & Spa features rooms that mix modern mid-century minimalism with traditional Moroccan touches for a stylish place to stay. While there are no less than two onsite restaurants, a pool lounge, and a cocktail bar on the roof, guests can explore the eateries found in the local area too; you will even find a casino nearby. The Koutoubia Mosque is just over a ten-minute walk away, but thankfully, there is a bus stop nearby to beat the heat.
- Mogador Opera – Mogador Opera features unfussy rooms that are simple and stylish in their own way, but best of all, this 4-star offering is located right next door to Marrakech train station, which makes arriving – or departing – by rail a thing of great ease. Guests will be able to enjoy a free breakfast here, dine at one of two restaurants, enjoy a beverage at the tea lounge, or just treat themselves to the sauna and hammam. With nearby restaurants and bus stops to choose from, exploring the city from here is simple.
A sliver of an area to the south of the central Medina area, Agdal may not appear to have a lot going for it on the surface. But look a little closer, and you’ll be wowed by some nearby sights — namely, the Agdal Gardens.
This sprawling botanical garden, set just slightly to the east of the district of Agdal itself, was created all the way back in the 12th century. It’s still in existence today, with all the fruit trees, irrigation canals and olive-lined walkways that were used all those centuries ago.
Staying in Agdal means being a little away from the hectic center of Marrakech, but there are still hotels to choose from – mainly in the mid-range bracket and mostly to the east of the Boulevard Mohamed VI.
When it comes to things to do after dark, you’ll find a few nightclubs in the area, including a Marrakech branch of Pacha.
Where to Stay in Agdal
- Sirayane Boutique Hotel & Spa – The Sirayane Boutique Hotel may not be in the center of Marrakech – in fact, it’s not very near to anything – but staying at this 5-star hotel is an experience in itself. With rooms that are spacious and design-led, it’s set in the desert but boasts its own beautiful, lush gardens for guests to enjoy. There’s a pool, spa treatments to indulge in, a complimentary breakfast, a Moroccan restaurant – even a choice of bars. Getting here should not be too hard since the airport is relatively close.
- Mogador Kasbah – With its warmly decorated rooms – some of which boast their own balconies – Mogador Kasbah is a value for money option featuring a number of convenient amenities. These include a hammam, a large outdoor pool – complete with deck chairs – as well as a spa, a gym, and onsite restaurant serving up tasty Moroccan fare. Not far from this hotel – around a 10-minute walk – guests will be able to reach the extensive grounds of the Jardis de l’Agdal, while Marrakech Airport is a few kilometers away.
Well away from central Marrakech a few miles north, Palmeraie is an unexpected oasis, hugging the banks of the Tensift River. A palm oasis around 54 square miles in area, Palmeraie is home to numerous resorts, such as the Palmeraie Palace, which offers complimentary golf at the neighboring PalmGolf Marrakech Palmeraie.
It’s safe to say that the hotels in this part of Marrakech are relatively high-end, arriving in the form of 5-star hotels, spas, and villages that span this lush area.
Linked to central Marrakech via bus connections – nearby stops include the Pont Tansift and Entree Palemerais – the area of Palmeraie ‘officially’ starts closer to the city center.
But the more high-end resorts are to be found further to the north, near the sought-after golf course. Needless to say, this is the place to stay if you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city and simply kick back in a desert oasis.
Where to Stay in Palmeraie
- Hotel Kasbah Le Mirage & Spa – For out and out Moroccan style luxury, a stay at Hotel Kasbah Le Mirage & Spa will reveal rooms that revel in traditional design. From luxurious four-poster beds and geometric tiles to ornate furniture and billowing drapes over the windows, these warmly decorated rooms will truly wow visitors. With its gorgeous outdoor pool, lovely rooftop bar where you can recline and admire the view with a cocktail, and traditional restaurant, this sumptuous hotel may be far from the center, but it’s worth it.