A stay in a riad will likely be one of your most memorable experiences in Marrakesh. Push open the heavy wooden door, and you enter a world far removed from the hubbub outside; one where you can rest in the shade of an orange tree, dip into a lantern-lit pool, or peer across the minarets of the historic city from the roof terrace, mint tea in hand.

La Maison Arabe

La Maison Arabe is one of Marrakesh's most luxurious riads (Photo courtesy of Experience Morocco)

La Maison Arabe is a class act on a car-accessible street in the central Bab Doukkala neighborhood. The interiors showcase all forms of Moroccan craftsmanship, with smooth tadelakt (lime plaster) walls, carved stucco, cedar wood ceilings, and decorative moucharabieh window screens. Flower-draped courtyards and corridors filled with antiques lead to 32 rooms and suites, all individually designed, with marble-and-granite bathrooms, minibars, and satellite TV. The majority come with fireplaces and private terraces.

Service is discreet yet attentive, and the atmosphere is serene, especially beside the olive tree-lined pool. The subterranean hammam is one of Marrakesh's best, with a relaxation area lit by teardrop-shaped lanterns. Go for a classic treatment like gommage (body scrub) followed by an orange-flower water rinse. A hotel shuttle bus can transfer you to the sister property in the countryside, with pretty gardens to explore and highly regarded culinary workshops led by a dada (home chef).

In winter, you'll dine in the traditional Moroccan restaurant, serenaded by Arabian lute music, while French-Moroccan dishes are delivered poolside in summer. Fresh pastries, seasonal fruit, and eggs to order are served in your room or by the pool at breakfast.

Almaha Marrakech

The courtyard pool at Almaha Marrakech (Photo courtesy of Experience Morocco)

With interiors inspired by Baudelaire's poem L'invitation au voyage, Almaha Marrakech is tucked away in an untouristy corner of the  Kasbah neighborhood, a five-minute walk from the Saadian tombs and a 20-minute stroll from Jemma el-Fna square. This five-star escape bears the contemporary hallmark of Belgian designer Charles Kaisin, who playfully enlivens the riad's original architecture with one-of-a-kind design touches like a cityscape mural depicted in silk pixels. A lantern-lit pool, an underground spa with twin hammams and a hot tub, and a bougainvillea-draped roof terrace invite lounging. There's little formality here: dine as and where you wish.

Scented with orange blossom, the 12 rooms and suites are huge (and hugely luxurious), with Berber rugs, bespoke furnishings, handpicked art, and marble-and-tadelakt bathrooms with rain-showers and deep soaking tubs.

Dar Kawa

The inner courtyard of Ben Youssef Madrasa, a five-minute stroll from Dar Kawa

Hidden down a dead-end alley in the medina, Dar Kawa was built in the early 17th century and later transformed into a guesthouse by Belgian textile designer Valérie Barkowski. From here, it's just a few minutes walk to the Marrakesh Museum and the astonishingly ornate Ben Youssef Madrasa (Islamic school).

The riad-as-home concept comes into its own at this minimalist-chic retreat, with just four rooms and suites, ranging from a cozy double with a four-poster to more lavish suites with Barkowski-designed linens, black-and-white photos of the artists who once stayed here, and monochrome colors that amplify the feeling of space and allow the architecture to speak for itself.

The vibe here is very laid-back, whether you're lingering over a Moroccan breakfast with pancakes and seasonal fruits, relaxing in the orange tree-shaded courtyard, or getting a soothing massage with 100% natural products in the spa.

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Riad Farnatchi

A roof terrace overlooking Marrakesh's medina

A luxurious conversion of five historic properties in Marrakesh's medina, Riad Farnatchi is an A-lister on the riad scene. The 10 sleek, lantern-lit suites reveal a razor-sharp eye for detail, with handmade beds draped in Egyptian cotton sheets, beautifully carved woodwork and stucco, open fires, Bose iPhone docks, on-demand movies, and Molton Brown bath products. Some have four-poster beds and marble bathrooms with sunken fossil bathtubs. Free djellabah (traditional Moroccan robes) are provided and are yours to keep.

But what really makes Farnatchi stand out from the crowd is its five-star service. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff: whether you want breakfast at midday, a full hammam with argan-seed scrub and rhassoul clay in the spa, or a perfectly mixed drink, just say the word. The restaurant, Le Trou au Mur, is superb and features its own méchoui (slow-roasted lamb) oven. The concierge can advise on how to get the most out of Marrakesh and arrange airport pick-ups and drop-offs.

Villa des Orangers

The tranquil pool at Villa des Orangers in Marrakesh (Photo courtesy of Experience Morocco)

Near the striking 12th-century minaret of Koutoubia mosque and 10 minutes walk from Jemma el-Fna, Villa des Orangers cleverly brings together restrained French elegance with Moroccan charm. Spread across two early 20th-century mansions; it has two large courtyards, one shaded by a namesake orange grove and another with a large pool surrounded by olive trees.

Intricately carved stucco, zellij (mosaic tilework), and tadelakt are nods to Moroccan craftsmanship, while a palette of muted colors keeps things contemporary and sophisticated in rooms with smart TVs, Nespresso machines, and minibars. All-natural NUXE treatments feature in the spa, and breakfasts are delicious, with fruit salad, homemade jams, and flaky pastries. Add to that lunch, soft drinks, and airport transfers all included in room rates, and what's not to love?

Riad Kniza

A sumptuous room at Riad Kniza (Photo courtesy of Experience Morocco)

You'll receive the warmest of welcomes at Riad Kniza, tucked just inside Bab Doukkala gate, in an easy-to-find corner of the medina. It has been in family hands for 200 years, and the current owner is Mohamed Bouskri, a prominent antique dealer and VIP tour guide. He enlisted master craftsmen to decorate the riad, filling it with a museum's worth of treasures so the look is lavish and 100% Moroccan. In the 11 rooms and suites, you'll find silky tadelakt walls, Berber rugs, intricate lanterns, and rich fabrics in gold and crimson.

Everything here has a personal touch, from the library where a fire crackles in winter to the quiet spa and private dinners (order in advance as the chef shops fresh).

La Sultana

A room fit for a sultan at La Sultana, Marrakesh (Photo courtesy of Experience Morocco)

From the palatial La Sultana roof terrace, you can peek into the Saadian tombs next door and spy the Atlas peaks on cloudless days. What sets this cluster of five riads apart is its discreet-yet-attentive service and attention to detail and history: each riad covers a different epoch, from the brick-built architecture of the Almohad dynasty to the extravagantly carved stucco and zellij tilework of the Saadian era.

The rooms are exquisite and, at times, eccentric, with decorative cedarwood, African objets d'art, and Roman temple-like marble bathrooms. There are nods to modernity, too: iPhone docks, complimentary (non-alcoholic) minibars, and DVD players. Add to this a highly atmospheric spa (one of Marrakesh's best—go for the "royal hammam") and fine Moroccan dining beside an arcaded poolside, and it's five-star all the way.