Riads today


However authentic or otherwise they may be, the riads on offer to today’s clientele have naturally enough undergone major refitting in order to ensure that all those essential ‘modern comforts’ are on tap. As a result, over the last few years the Marrakesh Medina municipality has had to come to grips with an unexpected rise in water and electricity consumption, and to entirely rethink its wastewater disposal systems.
A Herculean task when you consider the medina’s complexity and the ‘urban disorganisation’ that gives it its character!
All “guesthouse” riads have turned every spare inch of free space into guestrooms, each of which is air-conditioned or heated and has to have its own bathroom. This being so, the increase in energy and water needs is easy enough to imagine.
The fountain, whose gentle murmur once livened up the patio, has lost no time in becoming a “pool”, soon rebaptised “swimming pool” or jacuzzi.
Hammams, with which only the riads of the wealthiest were once endowed, are now (as a result of customer demand) thick on the ground, and often accompanied by massage rooms – once again in order to meet a growing demand for the oriental version of this particular road to well-being.
Riad Khadija’s patio has been fitted out as a summer lounge, set around a somewhat unorthodox fountain that nonetheless has a charm all its own.
In cases where the patio is of no great size, it has become the custom to cover it with a sliding glass roof or transparent sheeting, in order to keep in the warmth during the winter and, in particular, to keep out inclement weather. This turns the patio into a comfortable, carpeted lounge area, with the space it provides usable whatever time of year.
What has changed more than anything else is the use to which terraces are put. Once the exclusive domain of the staff and devoted to household chores, they are now primordial ‘living areas’: from breakfast in the morning to dinner beneath the stars of an evening (in the summer months at least), via the solarium during the intervening hours.
Daniel Smith