Riad 11 Zitoune is a luxury riad and one of the hidden gems Marrakech seems to have in abundance. It's bang next door to the city's main square Jemaa el-Fnaa, and comes with oodles of cosmopolitan flair and urban cool, while still retaining an authentically Moroccan feel. That’s thanks to the international background of its owners, Bavarian-born Alexandra and her partner Ahmed, who grew up in London and worked in Germany and the USA before realising his dream to open a hotel in 2014.
The aim? To create ‘a place where your soul feels at home’. Just 4 bedrooms ensure an atmosphere more like a private house than a hotel (though the service here is charming and second to none).
Arabic styling comes to the fore in simple bedrooms adorned with traditional woven textiles, while rich colours and local artefacts create an atmosphere of traditional luxury. The bustling medina with its winding medieval streets is on the doorstep; when you need to retreat, head to the roof terrace for tea at dusk.
Combine spa relaxation (think a hammam, or steam bath, followed by an argan oil massage) with meditation and yoga organised in partnership with Desert Rose Yoga – a sun salutation in the wild loneliness of the Sahara Desert is quite something. Packages also include week-long yoga retreats.
Outside the riad, the architecture, culture, food, drink and glorious shopping opportunities of Marrakech await (see our guide to Marrakech for more). Head to the Atlas Mountains for a taste of Berber life, or spend a couple of days surfing or sightseeing in the coastal town of Essaouira for a change of pace.
Think simple but delicious Moroccan cuisine, including freshly baked breads, tagines, salads, fruit and almond pastries, a local speciality. Meals are served with either mint tea or fresh coffee.