Riad Sakkan is a sultry, smouldering boutique hidey-hole tucked away in the Mouassine district of Marrakech’s famous medina. Traditional elements – heavy carved wooden doors and shutters, remarkable tilework – are brought up to date in striking juxtaposition with the highly individual, modern stylings that you find around each corner. The riad centres around two soothing courtyard gardens, one with a heated pool bordered with chequerboard tile and overlooked by skyward-climbing greenery, the other with a babbling fountain and potted palm and banana trees. The rooftop houses the restaurant and bar, serving up magnificent city views over the medina’s many highlights, including the minaret of the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque.
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A signature cocktail each and a selection of tapas
There are 12 rooms, including two suites. Each has been individually reimagined to tell its own visual story – whether that’s with dramatic colour palettes or unique artistic pieces that make the space pop.
While checking in is an ultra-flexible affair and you’re generally welcome to arrive around the clock (simply talk to the concierge in advance), check-out is no later than 11am.
Double rooms from £161.44 (€180), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.00 per person per night on check-out and an additional service charge of 5% per person per night on check-out.
Rates include a locally sourced continental breakfast with healthy intentions. From 8 to 11.30 am, try home-baked multigrain breads, honey, cheeses, yoghurt and fruit. You can also opt for eggs however you like ‘em, Nespresso coffee, tea and juice.
At the hotel
Free WiFi, concierge service, including hotel transfers, laundry service. In rooms: water and fruit, daily home-made cake and cookies at teatime, free bottled water, free WiFi, air conditioning, in-room safe, bathrobes, hairdryer, Botanika bath products.
Our favourite rooms
For maximum drama, check into the standout black Junior Suite, a sparsely adorned sanctuary with dark, moody walls and a gleaming copper in-room tub tucked behind a trellis screen. It’s definitely the most unusual room in the riad, but take the full suite upgrade if you need more space to spread out.
The open-air heated pool sits at the core of the riad in the larger courtyard. This is one of the most enticing spots on the premises, surrounded by vegetation and climbing plants scaling the lofty walls. Swimming hours are 7am to 9pm.
The hotel has a hammam with a massage-heavy menu to cater for guests’ R&R needs. There’s no gym on site, but guests can use the rooftop area for yoga practice with the best view in town, or the garden's fountain.
A bottomless tote to stuff full of souk spoils and your best poker face for closing each deal.
Because of the layout of the riad, the hotel is not suitable for wheelchair users
The standard efficient towel-use approach applies here to sidestep wasteful over-washing, bottled drinks all come in recyclable glass and the hotel makes good use of solar power. All suppliers for the hotel are local, and the kitchen picks fresh organic veg and avoids industrially farmed meat in its menus.
The best vantage point is an open-air balcony table with views across the palm-studded rooftop and down over the gorgeous arches and tilework of the courtyard below.
Understated elegance, with a flash of vintage scarf.
The Rooftop is an elegant, elevated space combining the hotel restaurant, bar and lounge. The open-air terrace offers views over the medina and has a fountain and fireplace, by which you’re welcome to lounge all day long. Food is served up here for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, which you can enjoy outdoors among the springy palm fronds or within, where a welcoming modern Moroccan interior awaits, featuring bold stripes and super-soft lighting. Watch your meal come into being in the open kitchen, where Chef Kenza presides over a menu of modern Moroccan cuisine and European-inspired bistrot dishes. For us, top pick is the beef tagine with candied apricots and honey.
Part of the restaurant, the bar serves snacks including delicious briouates, pastry parcels stuffed with tempting sweet or savoury fillings. The signature drink is the ultra-refreshing Hibiscus Fizz, a mix of hibiscus, egg white, cane sugar, strawberry and soda. Nothing beats a rooftop seat here with a view of the lowering sun and the Atlas Mountains while listening to the call to evening prayers.
Brunch is served from 10am to 12.30pm, lunch from 1 to 4pm, afternoon tea from 4 to 6 pm and dinner from 8 to 10pm. The bar closes at 11pm.
You can order in-room meals from the restaurant menu between 8am and 2pm (and other times upon request).
Riad Sakkan is in the Mouassine district of the meandering ochre marvel of Marrakech medina.
Marrakech Menara airport is 20 minutes away by car. You can pre-book a hotel transfer for 20 euros a person.
Marrakech Central station is three kilometres away. Hotel transfers are available for 15 euros a person.
The private car park is located 350 metres from the hotel and costs 20 euros per day (to be arranged in advance).
Worth getting out of bed for
Don’t miss Le Jardin Secret, a riad museum and garden, formerly the private domain of several key political figures, that’s now open to the public. Also worth a mooch is the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech, a museum celebrating the life and work of the lauded French designer, with a gift shop full of fashiony souvenirs. Call in for a wake-up call at the enlivening Bacha Coffee emporium, where the shelves are stacked to the ceiling with beans and all the coffee-making accoutrements you never knew you needed for your morning cup.
Dine in the open air at the rooftop Terrasse des Epices with a view of the Koutoubia Mosque and the Atlas Mountains. The menu blends Mediterranean and Moroccan influences for an appetising lunch in the sun or dinner beneath the stars. The glorious riad garden setting of Le Jardin is enough of a sell for a visit, but the menu of market-fresh dishes, including tantalising briouates, grills and tagines, will bring you back again. For a fine vegetarian feed, reserve your table at La Famille and sample the daily-changing menu at a table set among fragrant lemon trees.
Cocktails, dancers, music – Comptoir Darna is a favourite party spot for good reason. Great for a meal, a romantic drink, or a bigger celebration.
Not all holidays are created equal. Some escapes feel greater than others, and Marrakech (with a relatively conservative three-and-a-half hour flight time from London) is just far-flung enough to conjure ‘big-adventure’ levels of excitement.
Travelling to the Red City in September, as the UK weather begins to turn wet and windy, the prospect of 30-degree, sunny days (and oodles of shopping opportunities, ofc) proves too tempting to resist.
Fast-forward to the date stamped on our boarding cards and we’re touching down in Menara Airport. Here, we’re met by a Riad Sakkan driver – for a pickup charge of €15pp, it’s well worth arranging a car collection, as trying to navigate your route from curbside drop-off to your hotel when you’re not in the company of someone who knows the way is not without its challenges. After a short traipse along the medina’s crisscrossed narrow lanes, we reach our traditional riad (guided here by the hotel’s porter, Mustapha).
Positioned in the Mouassine district of the medina, the 12-room Riad Sakkan, our home for the next couple of nights, offers respite from the crowded marketplace to we, the travel-weary.
Arriving in such an oasis makes us instantly perk up. First glimpses of the property take in two courtyard gardens: one with a large pool engulfed in vegetation, its surrounding walls overrun with fragrant jasmine climbing plants; the other, plant-lined and home to an array of animals, from the feathered to the hard shelled.
Pausing our curiosity and desire to explore, we check in at the compact reception before being shown to our Junior Suite. Despite being one of the mid/larger accommodation options, the suite is by no means vast, but it certainly is charming.
A portrait of Mick Jagger hangs over the king-sized bed, which is dressed in Egyptian cotton. Walls are distressed in style. The flooring is camel leather. The room is punctuated with interesting furniture, including a chevron patterned chest of drawers and an intricate copper stool. As you venture further in, you’ll spot the marble tub (a bath, enhanced by organic toiletries from local brand Botanika, is a must while you’re here).
After unpacking we head up to the roof and are surprised by the absolute gem of a spot we’ve happened upon. Finding a seat in the rooftop bar area, surrounded by earthen objets, African masks, brass candlesticks, and monochromatic tiles, we concur that this is a rather lovely place to see out the end of the day. With snappable views in every direction, we toast to our first night in Marrakech.
After prying open the shutters and adjusting to the morning light we unlock our carved wooden door and head out for a closer inspection of the tuneful des oiseaux who’ve been serenading us from the courtyard.
Mindful of our step (tortoises roam freely across the parquet floors here), we pause at the trio of gilded cages for some chirpy chat and then head upstairs for breakfast. Morning mealtimes are simple, comprising of conserves and bread, fruit, yoghurt, and granola, plus eggs your way – and all served until 11.30am (a real holiday win when breakfast extends this late). It’s enough to set you up for a morning of exploring and/or bartering in the bazaar. From the breakfast table we plot our route around the souk and then, freshly squeezed orange juice sloshed back, head out.
Returning with a delicate mirror and a couch’s worth of cushions (well, cushion covers), we celebrate our successful haul with a simple afternoon tea of pastries and a traditional mint tea (offered gratuitously to guests) before retiring to the pool.
After a much-needed cooling off, we take position on the two-person mustard yellow daybeds. Clocking the little bell that sits alongside the loungers, it’s a relatively safe bet that our next drinks order won’t be too far away.
While lounging by the pool (lucky we), our eyes zoning in on certain design details and then wandering about again only to be stopped in their tracks by some other colourful creation, it becomes clear: this is a design enthusiast’s nirvana.
More contemporary than many other riads you’ll find nearby while staying true to traditional architectural elements, Sakkan’s juxtaposed style really appeals. Take, for example, the provocative black and white photographs snapped by Marc Lagrange which are dotted throughout the property. At odds with the walls on which they’re mounted, these pictures are arresting – one of the most alluring in the collection stares back at us from across the pool, fringed by banana leaf plants and brass orb-shaped lighting fixtures.
By the time dinner rolls around we’re too lazy to go anywhere else. The menu at the rooftop restaurant isn’t extensive and doesn’t appear to cater to vegetarians (however, if you notify staff the kitchen will be more than happy to whip something up for you) but it hits the spot.
Traditional Moroccan cuisine is your best bet here – try the chicken tagine or kofta with eggs – though more European dishes (such as roast chicken and beef fillet) are also available. When chat inevitably turns to ‘tomorrow’s plans’, it’s wise to seek the advice of Veerle, who co-owns the hotel together with her husband, Tom. Affable Veerle knows the ins and outs of the city, and is up to date on the latest openings and closings medina wide. But for now that bathtub beckons…