More than simply a city hotel, Riad de Tarabel is a romantic hideout embracing a timeless design with a French twist, in the heart of the old medina—and featuring one of the best spas in Marrakech.
Nevermind finding the right door in the maze of the pathways and streets of the old city—we would never have guessed that the small door hidden at the end of a dingy pathway could be an entrance to a glamorous riad, filled with family heirlooms, souk-sourced antiques, and cedar furniture.
But here we were, taking the first steps inside, through a dark corridor, and then onto the main courtyard of Riad de Tarabel, green from the orange trees planted in the middle.
Four interconnected houses
Each of the four houses making up the riad has a central courtyard, but it is the first one that was designed for a dramatic effect. With the neat orange trees, finely furnished porticos and grand salons, the first house makes great use of light and shade, offsetting the green lawn and white walls with the traditional tadelakt tile patterns and blueish-grey design theme.
From here you can go directly into the truly beautiful spa, accessible from the first courtyard through a secret door, hidden in a mirror. It certainly feels like a secret. It’s an utterly tranquil space where you can truly switch off. The entire house here is devoted to the spa—and the building’s courtyard is converted to a tranquil lobby, or lounge, with a glass roof.
The two other houses of de Tarabel are accessed from the first courtyard through a small boutique shop. The main attraction there is a black granite pool in the center of one courtyard, with lounge areas on four sides. One of these is a bar designed as an orangery, sporting a fabulous mural.
To the side is the fourth riad, with a small paved patio at its core. Quiet and cozy, strewn with old books and period objects, it is also here where we checked-in and stayed for a few days in one of the ground-floor suites.
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Riad de Tarabel design
Riad de Tarabel has ten rooms and suites in total. Each has its own identity, realized in thoughtfully curated interior design. Old photographs, large paintings, old prints, and mirrors adorn the walls, and elegant, black lacquered furniture, sparkling chandeliers, and Venetian mirrors help to create the look.
Rather than going for the Moroccan decoration and style, often ornate, if not gaudy, the designers of Riad de Tarabel set the interiors in a neutral palette of beiges, taupes, and soft grays. They brought in wooden shutters, dainty garden furniture, wrought-iron railings, and freestanding rolltop baths—enriching the traditional Arab-Andalusian architecture with Provençal aesthetic and European styles.
Relaxing and lounging
The living areas include sunbathed roof-terrace with views of the Atlas Mountains in the distance, salons and alcoves furnished with ornate rattan sofas, as well as a reading room and grand dining salon with a fireplace.
In summer, breakfast is served on the sunny terrace (and in the dining room in winter), but de Tarabel has no formal restaurant. The chef is on call throughout the day though and dining can be arranged in several attractive spots, including a lantern-lit patio, in the Orangerie-style bar, or one of the romantic cloister lounges.
Where you’d want to spend time most often is around the swimming pool. Built out of black stone, and placed in the shade of the ground floor in one of the courtyards, it can be the focal point of daily activity, especially on hot summer days. For those who are here precisely to enjoy the heat of the Moroccan sun, a special terrace has been readied just one floor above the pool. It’s ideal for working on that perfect tan.