Relais & Châteaux Riad Fes is one of the most enchanting hotels in the city and the very essence of Moroccan splendour.
Fes is Morocco’s cultural capital; an Imperial city rich in history and tradition. Riad Fes is set in the heart of the historic quarter – the beguiling labyrinth of the ancient walled medina known as Fes El Bali. Yet, stepping through the threshold into the exquisite, palatial lobby feels a world away from the bustling souks. Guests will be delighted by the ‘Arabian nights’ ambiance, the distinct Spanish-Moorish interiors and the sweeping views over the old medina.
Discretely located down a nondescript alleyway in the old part of town, it’s a welcome surprise to enter the striking lobby with a vaulting ceiling, Moroccan mosaic tiling and sumptuous décor.
Grand columns hold up the imposing atrium and intricate tiles ornament the space from floor to ceiling – where a golden chandelier hangs in prime position. The lobby of Riad Fes is bedecked with opulent furniture including a handsome piano, plush fuchsia settees and Baroque chairs that wouldn’t be out of place in a French château.
We are offered a pot of mint tea and served a pretty tiered stand of sweet pastries and dates. Having just arrived after an arduous journey from the Sahara Desert, it is a treat to luxuriate on the sofa in such fine surrounds. After tea our concierge guides us through the marble courtyard, passed a romantic candle-lit Andalucían pool and then through a beautifully carved archway that leads away from the pavilion.
The Standard Room
Set on the top floor of the modern extension of Riad Fes, our room is spacious and has a private balcony with views over the medina. The ‘Standard Room’ is nicely appointed – a comfortable double bed, a sofa, a desk equipped with stationery, and a television. We are spoilt with complimentary selection of Moroccan pastries, dates, fresh fruit and a kettle to make tea and coffee. There’s a large en-suite with a bathtub and all the comforts of home – plush bathrobes, slippers and Relais & Châteaux toiletries (including a traditional Berber coal face mask).
Around the hotel
Despite the authentic style, Riad Fes has no shortage of modern luxuries. There’s gorgeous outside swimming pool, a traditional hammam (spa) and a fully equipped gymnasium. As well as plenty of peaceful outdoor settings such as the small garden with a fountain shaded by orange trees, a sunny outdoor terrace with panoramic views and the Andalucían courtyard. Here you’ll find the lounge bar, L’Alcazar, where you can relax with a tea or smoke the shisha. There’s also the intimate Restaurant L’Ambre, which means you needn’t leave the riad to taste the flavours of Morocco.
Riad Fes’ breakfast buffet is a tempting spread of fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereals, cakes, bread and pastries. You can also order an a la carte meal such as the Fassi egg tagine (fried eggs with local cured beef) or Moroccan Beghir pancakes (also known as ‘pancakes with a thousand holes’) slathered with honey. There’s a selection of fresh juice to choose from (classic orange to vibrant beetroot), coffee or tea.
It’s an excellent location in the historic district; a suitably quiet area within walking distance to cafes, the bustling souks and historical sights.
Riad Fes is a luxury hotel with a touch of Moroccan elegance. Attractive features include the noteworthy views over the medina and the hotel’s convenient location for exploring Fes. The concierge can kindly arrange a guided tour of the city. Ask for ‘Sammy’, the charismatic local has been guiding tourists around Fes for decades.
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The writer was a guest of Riad Fes. My opinion is, and will always be, my own. The Portmanteau Press only includes content that aligns with the aesthetic, standard and values of the brand.