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Owner Thomas Hays, an interior designer and fine art photographer in New York, designed the five-suite Riad Meriem in Marrakech.

Hays bought the traditional Moroccan house, in the North African medieval city, and restored it as a small hotel. Hidden inside its thick walls is a bougainvillea and jasmine-filled courtyard garden and oriental-style pool.

How to get to Riad Meriem

Riad Meriem is located in the Marrakech Medina, the well-preserved 11th-century quarter. It is a short walk from Djemma el Fna Square, the souks (markets), the Marrakech Museum and the largest Koranic school in North Africa, Medersa Ben Youssef.

The luxurious small hotel includes a dining room, a lounge with a fireplace, a library filled with books, a spacious terrace with a Donghia fabric tent and a roof-terrace, from where guests can view the sun set over Marrakech and the Medina.

Interior Design

Hays created the hotel's Arabic color palette of violet, sienna, ivory and aubergine with an ancient plastering technique called tadelakt. Local craftsmen applied organic pigments and lime wash by hand, then rubbed in black olive soap.

A museum of international treasures decorate Riad Meriem — 18th-century Sumatran lawons (ceremonial silk scarves), Philippine fish trap and rice paper lights, Indian bronze cooking containers converted into washbasins, Indonesian and Kurdistan textiles, bridal veils from Morocco's mid-Atlas mountains and fabrics, woven by Cameroon's Ndop artisans. Hays' photographs of Africa and Asia enhance several suites.

The lamp-maker for Morocco's royal family created the lights, which project silhouette constellations on the walls and decor. Moroccan weavers fashioned the carpets, while local artisans designed bed linens and table textiles to match the hues on the walls.

Bathrooms boast Herbeau fixtures from Lille, France, and WaterWorks showerheads imported from the United States.

Special events

Moroccan managers at Riad Meriem arrange transfers to and from the airport, shopping trips, meetings with local craftsmen, shipping of bought items, spa treatments, hammam visits and even belly dancers.

General managers help guests arrange private parties, corporate events and Arabian weddings.


Riad Meriem: www.riadmeriem.com