Riad Maison Bleue
Riad Maison Bleue is a stylish boutique riad created from three neighbouring houses and the perfect balance of traditional and contemporary furniture just a few minutes walk from the Bab Bou Jeloud or Blue Gate entrance to the famous medina of Fez.
All 18 rooms have en suite bathrooms with six of them overlooking the palm-fringed central courtyard and swimming pool. The rest of the accommodation is in the so-called Pavilion of the Astrolabes, which can be taken privately as a self contained entity, and the Mesria, which contains the final four suites, decked out in a more contemporary style.
Drinks, tastings and dinner are all served in the super-stylish Blue Lounge while spa treatments such as massages and exfoliating body scrubs are available in the small spa, alongside the obligatory hammam steam room.
Why We Love It
The views across the medina are simply the best from one of the roof terraces.
Tucked away down a narrow medina lane behind gold-studded doors, you'll find this intimate five-star palatial riad; a true oasis amid the hustle and bustle of booming Fez. Newly renovated, Palais Amani retains its original 1930s art deco feel, spiced up with Moroccan design and smoothed over with the latest mod-cons.
The interior is all authentic wooden doors and mosaic floors, laid out around a lush tiled courtyard complete with a beautiful tumbling fountain. Choose from five guestrooms and nine suites, each individually decorated with its own feel and boasting its unique city- or courtyard- view. For a truly special stay, the Grand Suite is the most spacious and impressive, occupying an entire wing on the first floor with views stretching to the hills. For groups of friends or family wanting an unforgettable experience with top-notch service, exclusive use of Palais Amani would certainly fit the bill; your very own Franco-Moroccan-chic palace escape.
And it only gets better when you hear about the cuisine. Your evenings at Palais Amani begin with cocktails and aperitifs of cured olives and home-smoked almonds on the roof terrace while the chefs prepare traditional dishes using fresh market produce. Forget Westernised recipes churned out to the masses, Amani's restaurant aims to introduce guests to the too-often underappreciated variety of Moroccan cuisine - and if you let them know in advance, they are more than happy to rustle up just about anything you fancy.
The chef has acknowledged the appreciation of his creations by offering cookery classes, focussing on tagines to Moroccan breads and pastries, starting with a trip to the medina to source ingredients and finishing off with a well-deserved lunch. For those after something a little different, calligraphy classes are a must, while those in need of a re-charge after a day in the hectic souks and tanneries should head straight to Amani's own spa. Using exclusively organic products, including argan oil from the gardens of Ourika, the spa offers a full range of treatments, including the traditional - and must-try - hammam experience.
Why We Love It
The cooling shade of Palais Amani's courtyard, together with its sweet scent of citrus and jasmine, makes the perfect 'welcome home' at the end of a day in bustling Fez. Perfectly located within the city's ancient walls, this haven will undoubtedly make you fall in love with Fez - as if it needed any help.
Much of the charm in visiting Fez is to experience a city much unchanged since medieval times; but even the most history thirsty traveller would presumably want the whole Middle Ages thing to stop at their door of their hotel. Fortunately, in Riad Fes they can retire to one of the finest riads in Morocco, let alone Fez.
Riad Fes, part of the Relais & Chateaux group, is a perfect blend of Moorish and Andalucian styles with all the quintessential riad features present and correct - think fountains, hammams, courtyards, elegant tile work and roof terraces with spectacular views. And as with all good riads, Riad Fes is an oasis of calm yet located right in the heart of the narrow lanes of a medina.
There are 15 rooms and 11 suites in three differing styles - Moroccan, Oriental and Baroque-Andalucian - each different but always tastefully thought through and executed. The rooms and suites branch off from three patios, and all have sumptuous beds and well appointed en suite bathrooms.
The restaurant specialises in Moroccan cuisine and excellent buffet breakfasts while the small but perfectly formed Cinq Mondes spa offers treatments from massages to hammam steam room sessions. A decent sized lap pool and sophisticated bar complete the very, very alluring picture.
Why We Love It
The restaurant is so good that guests often choose to eat in rather than sample the wares on offer other medina eateries.