Marrakech’s ancient medina is filled with thousands of tiny riad guesthouses, a series of rooms that open onto a central courtyard in a converted residence. The word riad means “garden” or “paradise,” and at Riad Kaiss, they took that literally: step through a wooden door in the Riad Zitoun Jdid district and you’ll briefly wonder if you’ve entered the Garden of Eden. If you head down to breakfast early enough, you’ll have the lush venue to yourself as you tuck into an authentic Moroccan spread of fresh jams, local crepes, breads, fruit salad with apples and peaches, and fresh OJ, all the while feeling as though you’re in your own secret garden.
The nine suites are simple and rather dim — at first glimpse ours seemed like a hostel room with quirky touches like a series of straw hats inexplicably strung across the wall. The wall-to-wall-tiled bathroom was beautiful but grimy, and standalone tub may be charming in theory, but it’s terrible in practice — I challenge you not to either trip or get water everywhere. The mirror is also too high for the average human. And don’t leave any valuables in your room when you’re not in it – I had money stolen during my stay.
But forget the cramped, poorly executed sleeping quarters — your best bet is to spend most of your time on the riad’s (literal) crowning glory, a stunning roof terrace looking onto the green-tiled roof. Each level reveals another gem: an inviting plunge pool greets you after you’ve exited the stairwell; the towering palms that have their roots in the courtyard two stories below culminate at the roof; a lovely daybed is studded with soft pillows, just the place to while away a lazy afternoon flipping through magazines; potted plants give the space a lush feeling, akin to a hanging garden. This is a riad, after all, in every sense of the word.