At private, adults-only, exclusive-use Riad Vivre, a 20-foot-high waterfall cascades melodiously into the courtyard’s plunge pool in purposeful contrast to the explosion of noise and colour of Marrakech’s souks. The scents of bougainvillea and jasmine drift in the air, and palm trees reach past ornate ebony balustrades towards the open sky from enormous vases. The decor is understated, with unfussy mosaics, creamy Tadelakt walls and teardrop-shaped brass lamps made by local artisans. What sets it apart is the whole place is yours (well, you and your family or friends) to set up residence on the rooftop terrace from sunrise to sunset, or gather by the fireplace in the lounge downstairs for cosy evenings.
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One free private transfer per booking (up to ten people) to and from the Riad
Riad Vivre is a private residence that accommodates up to 10 people. There are three double rooms as well as a master bedroom with a copper bathtub. The lounge seating area can also be converted for sleeping, and has an en-suite bathroom.
11am but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £640.12 (€750), 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.
Rates include a daily breakfast of Moroccan breads and crepes, fruit salad and scrambled eggs or omelette cooked to order, as well as jams, juices, teas and coffees. There’s a minimum stay of three nights at the riad.
At the hotel
Fully equipped kitchen, fireplace, Wi-Fi, Nespresso coffee machine, Sonos sound system. In rooms: air conditioning, bathroom with rainfall shower and toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
The riad’s sense of unfussy grandeur continues to bedrooms, where brass lamps hang from high ceilings, creamy berber-style rugs lie atop tiled floors and comfy leather pouffes flank beds draped in locally handwoven white cotton blankets. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms with smart brass fittings and walk-in rainfall showers, but it’s the huge master bedroom – with its fabulous freestanding copper bathtub – that will have whoever is first through the door calling dibs and plonking their suitcase on the bed.
The babbling waters of the courtyard pool may send you into a spontaneous siesta in this most serene of spaces. Or head skywards, where the rooftop plunge pool, warmed by the morning sun, is a fine place to relax with a mint tea, or a mojito.
The riad partners with nearby Les Bains de Tarabel, where traditional Moroccan hammam rituals and a range of massages and facials are available.
Stash a copy of Peter Mayne’s evocative 1950s journal A Year in Marrakech for whiling away days by the courtyard pool. The strategy board game Azul, with its Moroccan-style mosaic tiles, would also be a fun option for long candlelit evenings with friends on the rooftop.
The fully equipped kitchen means you can unleash your meanest tagine-cooking skills on unsuspecting friends and family. Alternatively, remain horizontal by the pool and hire a chef to come over and do the hard work for you.
Riad Vivre is cocooned away in Marrakech’s serene Sidi Ben Slimane neighbourhood, a 15-minute walk from the sensory fiesta that is Djemaa El Fna – the city’s mammoth main square.
The riad is a 20-minute drive from Marrakech Menara Airport.
Reliable services in and out of Marrakech railway station connect the city to Casablanca, Fez, Rabat and more.
Hire cars are available, but driving is not really recommended due to the frequently heavy traffic around the city centre.
Worth getting out of bed for
Every visitor to Marrakech should experience the carnival atmosphere of Djemaa El Fna at least once. The sprawling main square is a sensory explosion of sounds, smells and sights. Expect to see belly dancers, snake charmers and fire breathers, while heady aromas of spice and incense drift (often visibly) on the breeze and market traders vie to make themselves heard over booming calls to prayer.
Escape into the surrounding souks where haggling is practically an olympic sport. Here, in narrow lanes jam-packed with spices, Berber rugs, sparkling jewels and a gazillion other trinkets, even the coolest customer is seduced by the salesmanship (and afternoon heat), and exits triumphantly brandishing fistfuls of saffron and brightly coloured scarves.
Marrakech has some fine gardens for post-souk decompression. Among them, cacti-crammed Jardin Majorelle surrounds an eye-popping electric-blue villa that was once home to Yves Saint Laurent. Oasis-like water features dot these lush gardens, which are home to towering palms, prickly pears and other showstopping succulents. Tickets start from 120 dirhams for access to the garden only; combi tickets add one or both museums.
A (theoretically) short stroll through the medina’s maze-like streets brings you to Le Jardin which – as the name suggests – is an enormous garden oasis hidden within the walls of a 16th-century building just off the main square. High, whitewashed walls surround green-tiled floors and a frenzy of foliage, while the food focus here is on traditional Moroccan favourites: think crispy falafel, waist-expanding tagines and perfect pistachio and apricot frangipane.
Stunning skyline scenery challenges the menu for top billing at La Terrasse des Épices, where views across terracotta Medina rooftops to the hazy Atlas Mountains beyond are almost enough to distract you from the Tanija Marrakchia, a clay-pot lamb dish spiced with saffron, ras el hanout, ginger and cumin, that’s slow-cooked for several hours beneath hot ashes.
Beat a retreat from the frenzy of the souks and make for Café des Épices. This low-key Marrakech mainstay is an oasis of ochre that feels far from the madding crowd. Pause for a refreshing fruit juice or verbena with views over the city’s rooftops.
The renovated palace of Dar El Bacha is a riot of intricate mosaics and carved cedarwood set around a courtyard that’s dotted with fountains and orange trees. Now home to the Musée des Confluences, the palace also houses Bacha Coffee, an upmarket café with a 23-page menu of not inexpensive 100 per cent arabica coffees. Go for the afternoon tea and stay for the ridiculously opulent decor, all checkerboard tiled floors, luxurious patterned wallpapers and huge arched doorways.
There is no better place in Marrakech to enjoy a cocktail or four than in a rooftop bar watching the sun set over the medina. Kabana teams all this with candles, lanterns, soft latin music and a huge range of travel-themed cocktails. Try the Kopakabana Saffron, with Brazilian cachaça rum, saffron, lemon and sugar, or brave the rather more sinister sounding Clutch Hand from Little Italy, with whisky and martini. And good luck with the stairs after a couple of those.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this cute boutique riad in Marrakech and unpacked the four extra suitcases they’ve stuffed with rugs, lanterns, shoes and spices from the souks, a full account of their holiday in the Red City will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Riad Vivre in Marrakech’s Medina...
Step inside Riad Vivre, hearing your footsteps echo around whitewashed courtyard walls, and you’ll wonder if there’s any need to set foot outside again. The promise of world-class haggling in the souks, you may realise, might not be enough to lure you away from the courtyard’s blissful waterfall and pool. Or the roof terrace’s shaded pergola, where it’s oh-so-easy to lose hours sipping iced teas and leafing lazily through your holiday reads.
This private, adults-only residence is a place to enjoy time with friends and family, where a chef will take care of your meals on request, rustling up fragrant Moroccan banquets for nights in, dining underneath the stars. Lazy mornings are spent lingering over breakfasts of freshly baked Moroccan breads and crepes, fruit salads and eggs as you like them, plus as much caffeine as your heart can take.