Traditional hotels in Morocco

As there’s no international classification of hotels, star-rating system is not applicable to Morocco. I would advise you to pay attention at traditional types of accommodation: riads, kasbahs, ksars etc. Of course you may choose any worldwide hotel chains but they won’t bring you so close to Moroccan culture.

Two main common traits of traditional guesthouses are Moroccan-style decoration and inner yard, that helps women to hide from the eyes of strangers. Actually it depends on the owner, how he will name his type of accommodation. The same type of building may have a different name.



2 or more storied house of a wealthy merchant. Usually riad is located in historical centre of a city. The inner yard (atrium) often has a roof. There’s definitely a fountain in the middle, a small garden (or some trees in pots) and mosaic tiles. Depending on cost riad may be modestly or richly decorated.

A room in Moroccan riad
A room in Moroccan riad with traditional Berber patterns, Rabat
Golden tap and sink
Golden tap and sink in bathroom of riad
Atrium of riad
Atrium (inner yard) of riad
Smaller atrium in riad
In this riad atrium is much smaller, Essaouira
Light well over reception
But it has a function of a light well and gives some light to the reception desk located on the groundfloor
Room of riad in Essaouira
A room of riad in Essaouira
Stairway in Moroccan riad
Staircase of riad. There are no elevators in riads, kasbahs or ksars

Kasbah and ksar

It’s hard to find a difference between these 2 kinds. Both refer to a settlement that is surrounded with a fortified wall. Buildings inside of it border on each other.

As a guesthouse a kasbah is a small square castle made of rammed earth. There are towers on every corner. Ksar is a fortress made of adobes with several buildings on its territory. Ksars are usually located in rural area, while kasbahs – outside a city (town). If one surrounds several kasbahs with a fortified wall, they become a ksar.

Kasbah in Kelaat M'Gouna valley
Typical shape of a Moroccan kasbah
2 kasbahs: ruined and restored
2 kasbahs next to each other – one is ruined, the 2d was restored to be a hotel in rose valley
Paintings in kasbah inner yard
Inner yard of this kasbah is decorated with paintings of the owners
Interior of artists kasbah
Modern paintings in Moroccan kasbah
Modern-style paintings in this kasbah are everywhere. Of course most of kasbahs will have more traditional decoration, but modern art sets this one kasbah off the other
Entrance to a ksar

Berber houses in desert

In Merzouga you will see one- and two-storied private houses that are build in shapes of circle, infinity etc. that surround inner yards. All the streets look the same. The difference hides inside.

For example, «Chez Youssef» hotel – one-storied building erected with the use of traditional technologies and materials – clay, straw, wooden beams and ceilings covered with cane. There are 2 inner yards. Guests can ascend the roof to take a look at Erg Chebbi and the bigger yard with a palm tree. Despite of it the hotel is modern – new beds, air-conditioners and wi-fi.

Inner yard of Moroccan guesthouse
A view from a rooftop to the inner yard of Chez Youssef guesthouse
Inner yard
The number and the size of windows that look to the inner yard are bigger
Table and swing in the inner yard
Inner yard also plays a role of a restaurant. There’s also a restaurant in a room – to hide guests from sand (during sandstorms) and heat
Lounge with fireplace
A lounge with a fireplace
A window in Chez Youssef guesthouse
Owners of any desert hotel try to make an oasis in their yards


Some of guesthouses can offer you some cultural experience too. For example this private hotel in Agadir gives you a possibility to admire stone-carved ceiling in the lounge. Not every historical building has such a ceiling.

Ceiling with stone-carving
The owner said that it took 6 month of hard labour to create such ceiling
Ceiling with stone-carving and illumination
Illumination decorates all the corners of the ceiling
Stone-carving in the lounge of hotel
The lounge is on the first floor, so you won’t see this ceiling unless you book a room here

Chandelier and stone carving


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