We did what most visitors do and rented a room in a Riad in the Medina neighborhood of the city. 

A Riad is essentially a bed and breakfast of a traditional Arabic typology – rooms are situated along the four sides of the building facing an interior courtyard. The ground floor is usually reserved for communal spaces such as living/sitting rooms, breakfast, etc and upper floors contain the guest rooms. Ground floor spaces can also be used as coworking.

Riad architecture is quite unique – the outside is a tall blank wall revealing nothing of the interior. But once you step inside through a heavy, low door, the vibrant colors, textures, aromas of flowers and freshly baked bread, and coolness await you. 

For a digital nomad, a Riad is a great place to stay as it provides spaces to work and socialize outside of your room that are quiet and cool and, importantly, open 24/7 unlike a typical coworking space or a cafe – great for those working across timezones.

Marrakech has several coworking spaces – I’ll list them here but full disclosure – I didn’t use any of them as I worked from our Riad during my time in the city.

Cowork in Marrakech

Goworking

Coworking B’Lassa

 

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Now in terms of the neighborhood, the Medina is the famous centuries-old walled city of historical Marrakech. Outside the tranquility of your riad madness awaits – scooters, donkeys, bicycles, compete with pedestrians, dogs and cats for the narrow passageways lined with countless stalls selling everything from Argan oil to carpets, pottery, homewares, fruit, clothing, jewelry… You get the idea. Everything is constantly in motion, in a perpetual state of chaos…. Yet the chaos has a flow to it, it is a hypnotic dance of people, goods, vehicles, animals, sounds, aromas, colors, light and shadows. Curiously, all this happens without any aggression or shouting – as if by magic everyone gets where they’re going and what they need.

Want to really feel the city as if you were there?  Check out this REEL I made.

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If you’re nomading in Marrakech, staying in the Medina means diving into this madness every time you need to come out of your riad, so if you’re not up for that I highly recommend staying in the nearby Gueluz neighborhood.

It’s totally modern with wide streets, apartment buildings, cafes and restaurants and all the conveniences of a modern city. I found some excellent contemporary art galleries there as well as specialty coffee shops, international cuisine, and shopping.

contemporary art gallery in marrakech
contemporary photography in marrakech
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Health and Hygiene tips
Our Riad owner suggested I don’t drink tap water so I used bottled water even to brush my teeth. I followed the same precautions in other locations we visited in Morocco. Not sure if it was 100% necessary but better be safe than sorry.

Cosmetic products
Since I traveled with a carry on, I was only able to bring about 100ml of each of my skincare products in my Muji travel containers. Which meant that I ran out of pretty much everything after a week. Depending on how specific your skincare needs are you may want to ensure you restock in Marrakech before venturing out into the country as you won’t find the nicer brands anywhere else. The larger shopping malls will typically have some shops carrying small selections of some of the brands you’d find at Sephora etc. Don’t expect miracles so if your regimen is quite specific, you’ll need to bring the products with you.

This brings me to a rather personal but important topic – the way your body and skin will react to the climate.

It’s dry and a bit dusty everywhere in Morocco and the high altitude of the mountains adds more stess to your skin if you’re not used to this type of climate. I suggest investing in a good non-abrasive face wash and non-greasy nourishing face creams to nurture your skin back to life overnight. Hamams – Turkish baths – also help get rid of the dust, open pores, and let moisture in. Make sure you read reviews carefully as quality and sanitation standards vary greatly.

Working out
If staying at a Riad, you’ll typically have a roof terrace. This can be a beautiful way to do a bit of yoga and stretching. If you’re a runner, early mornings are best for both heat and traffic. Tbh if you’re a woman and staying in the Medina I wouldn’t recommend running as in order to beat the morning craziness you’d have to go when it’s still dark and I wouldn’t do that. Most likely nothing will happen but you may get stared at which can be unpleasant and unnerving when alone.

roof terrace of a traditional moroccan riad
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Now it’s time to bid farewell to the magical Red City and transport ourselves to the desert, the town that bills itself the Hollywood of Morocco. On to Part 2!