Wow Factor: The Moroccan Riad
Instead of staying in a traditional hotel, experience a slice of Moroccan culture by staying in a riad, or small hotel converted from a traditional Moroccan home or palace centered around a courtyard or garden. Marrakech is bursting with stylish luxury riads, many of them European-owned. For a taste of something more authentic, check out Riad Kniza. This is one of the city’s most luxurious riads, which also happens to be Moroccan-owned. Dating from the 18th century and restored with traditional artisan-crafted materials, this 11-room gem is owned by a renowned Marrakech antiques dealer, who also doubles as a tour guide whose client roster includes former American presidents and celebs like Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman.
Design & Style
Riad Kniza is centered around a tall open-air courtyard filled with hand-carved wood and marble accents, surrounding a mosaic fountain filled with rose petals. During the day the riad is filled with boisterous bird-song, while at night stained-glass lanterns illuminate the halls with dancing light. Extra-tall wooden doors open onto luxurious suites filled with sumptuous fabrics and unique decorations like inlaid mirrors, Moroccan lanterns, and hand-painted tables.
The staff at Riad Kniza are attentive and friendly, and the riad has a homey feel about it. Moroccan tea and pastries are served upon request in your room or anywhere on the property, as is breakfast and dinner. There’s a spa and hammam, plunge pool, and rooftop terrace, as well as Moroccan cooking courses and city tours available upon request. Rooms are large, air-conditioned, WiFi enabled and equipped with all the modern amenities of a luxury hotel.
Location, Location, Location!
Located in the city’s historic medina, or walled old town, Riad Kniza is near Marrakech’s famous Jema l’ Fna square, filled with snake charmers, storytellers, musicians, food stalls, and endless shops peddling Moroccan crafts and souvenirs. It’s also near the city’s souks, or markets dedicated to specific crafts. However, Marrakech’s medina will disorientate even the most savvy traveler, so be prepared to wander and get lost.
The food at Riad Kniza is amazing. Not surprising since they host Moroccan cooking workshops, which are a great way to experience another facet of Moroccan culture. Dinners are prepared with fresh ingredients gathered daily from local markets, and begin with a Moroccan salad course, which by the way doesn’t include a shred of lettuce. Instead you’ll encounter close to a dozen vegetable dishes ranging from carrots to beets, to pickled cucumbers, lentils, and lima beans with chiles. The trend here is spice, and lots of it. Many of the dishes include a hearty dose of favorite Moroccan spices: cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, and paprika. The tagine dishes, cooked in a clay pot over low heat, are absolute heaven, with choices ranging from lamb with dates, almonds, apricots, and figs to chicken or fresh fish with lemons and root vegetables. There’s also hand-made berber bread and tempting desserts like cinnamon drizzled orange slices with cream and caramel. The Moroccan pastries are fabulous as well, especially the ones with a slight aroma of flowers.
34 Derb l’Hotel, Bab Doukala
Tel. +212 5 24 37 69 42