Marrakesh has exceptional hotels. Five stars are dropped at every turn, the spas are superb, and the loving attention to detail is overwhelming. If, however, you'd prefer not to spend a fortune sleeping in the bed where a movie star once slumbered, solid budget and midrange options abound. They're small, clean, and suitably Moroccan in style to satisfy adventurous penny-pinchers.

To take on the historic heart of Marrakesh and live like a pasha of old, head to one of the medina's riads. Riad restorations, many by ultrafashionable European expats, have taken over the city; you'd trip over them, if only you knew where they were. Anonymous doors in the narrow, twisting derbs of the medina, and especially the souks, transport you to hidden worlds of pleasure. There are cheap ones, expensive ones, chic ones, funky ones, plain ones. Riads normally have around four to six rooms arranged around a courtyard and each room can be rented individually on a nightly basis. For special events and larger gatherings, it’s worth considering booking the whole property.

Marrakesh is something of a Shangri-la for designers who, intoxicated by the colors, shapes, and patterns of the city, feel free to indulge themselves in wildly opulent and ambitious designs. Although it isn't all tasteful, much of the décor and style in Marrakesh hotels and riads is fascinating and easy on the eye.

Most of the larger hotels (classified with three, four, or five stars by the Moroccan government) are in Guéliz, Hivernage, and a new zone touristique located beyond the Agdal Gardens heading out of town on the route de Ourika. If you prefer something authentic and inexpensive near the action, choose one of the numerous small and clean hotels in the medina near Djemâa el Fna.

Hotels and riads vary their prices wildly between high and low season. This means that if you time your trip right you can find some great deals. High season runs from October to May, with spikes at Christmas, New Year's, and Easter.