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Rustic Retreats

A meeting of History and Culture at Marrakech’s Riad Porte Royale

Ask “What’s the most stylish city in the world?” and you’ll get a variety of answers – New York, Miami, and even Berlin may come up on the list. But ask a true travel and style aficionado, and we think you’ll get a different answer: Marrakech. And where does one stay in one of this exotic city? Riad Porte Royale.

The history of Marrakech from its founding to what it is today is far too long for one post, but suffice it to say, it’s always been a centre of style. From it’s famous textiles to it’s cultural influence in North Africa, Marrakech has brought a unique, culturally blended style to the world stage for centuries. And perhaps nowhere is that stylish influence more evidence than in its architecture, in the forms and shapes of it’s traditional dars and riads.

As such, when you’re in Marrakech, you’d do yourself a true disservice if you deny yourself the chance to stay in one of these stylish, historical buildings. And if you’re looking for a Riad in a peaceful area of the Marrakech medina, look no further than Riad Porte Royale.

Unlike a dar, a Riad is usually a little larger, and often has a fountain or pool in the courtyard. Riad Porte Royale’s small pool, surrounded by tile, offers a peaceful place to dip your feet after a day of strolling in the medina, or a cooling spot to relax to get away from the hustle and bustle. Additionally, the shadows caused by the tall walls surrounding the courtyard cause the air in it to cool down in the shadows, creating cooler spaces during the hot Moroccan days.

In terms of location, Riad Porte Royale is hard to beat. It’s in a less touristy and more residential part of the medina, allowing visitors to walk freely around the area without being stopped every few minutes to buy something or sample some wears. It’s location is also a benefit in terms of peacefulness, as there’s far less foot traffic and outside noise, especially in the evenings. Yet because it’s still in the medina, it’s only a 15 minnute walk to the central square, filled with street performers, fresh food and plenty of local artisans. The area around Riad Porte Royale has traditionally been occupied by wealthier families, and the Hermès family of fashion fame still owns a luxury home just down the street from Riad Porte Royale.

Though the exact date is unknown, Riad Porte Royale likely dates from the mid 1700s. One way in which they can come to this approximate date range is by the fact that you need to step down to enter the Riad – if the home were more modern, the steps would have been filled in several times as newer homes were built on the old foundation.

Architecturally, Riad Porte Royale offers many interesting details. Rooms are long and narrow, not just to allow the courtyard to let enough light in, but because the rafters are made with a traditional building material: palm trunks. As such, they can’t reach for too far, or they’ll start to bend. Other traditional elements are incorporated into the rooms, like the hand woven and local bedspreads, a tadelakt plaster and stone sink, or rich wardrobe doors, hand carved by the Dogon tribe from Mali.

Like most riads, Riad Porte Royale only has a small number of rooms, which allows them to provide a variety of personalised services, like a traditional Moroccan breakfast at any time and location of your choosing. Though the rooftop is lovely in the morning, it’s hard to beat a breakfast in the courtyard next to the tiled and refreshing pool.

In addition to the rooftop and courtyard, Riad Porte Royale offers another communal space on the second floor, furnished with traditional north African arts in a traditional beige and white colour scheme. In the heat of the afternoon, this is a lovely space to relax, catch up on work, or research where to go for dinner while escaping the direct sunlight.  

If you’re looking for an authentic, high-end riad that celebrates the best  of Moroccan and north Africa, look no further than the elegant and relaxing Riad Porte Royale.


If you’re enjoying the design of this riad and that rustic hotel vibe, read about Dar Seffarine in Fes here.


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