During our big round trip through Morocco we had the pleasure to stay 2 nights in Fes, and soon found out that this white washed city was pretty special. Although it has a modern and old part with 2 ancient medina’s, similar to Marrakech, it gives off a different vibe and has so much to offer. We definitely preferred Fes and found it a diverse, authentic but also classy city which I can highly recommend to visit. More about that at the end of this blog post.
But first I want to tell you all about our stay in a royal riad in the middle of the ancient town walls of the medina: Palais Amani
What is a riad exactly? The word: ’riad’ is derived from the Arabic term for garden and is actually a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. They used to be the city homes of wealthy families such as royalty or merchants.
These traditional houses usually have 2 or more storeys built around an Andalusian-style courtyard with a fountain or pool. Riads were always focused inwards to offer the family privacy and protection. In the most traditional ones the courtyard has a garden with 4 segments with at least 4 citrus trees and a fountain in the middle, as they have at Palais Amani. This 17th century palace was rebuilt in the 1920’s and restored to its old grandeur with addition of some modern features and art deco touches.
Arriving at this authentic mansion just around the corner from the cultural and buzzing medina shops, markets and tanneries, was like entering the Garden of Eden itself!
It’s magically cool inside this tiled courtyard with wonderful patterns all around, and citrus trees filled with fruit, flowers and small birds.
This beautifully restored riad feels intimate but spacious with only 15 bedrooms, including 9 suites, providing authentic but modern accommodation. Offers refined dining, a wonderful rooftop terrace including bar and many seating options, a traditional mosaic tiled hammam, and extensive terraces, a library and salon.
They even offer a special yoga retreat next January from the 19th until the 23rd including accommodation, a special detox menu and a multitude of unique yoga classes and workshops.
Go to their website for more information.
For an authentic traveler like me, who loves to explore the heritage of each destination but also enjoys comfort and luxury, this was definitely the perfect accommodation.
The authenticity of this riad combined with their impeccable service, high ceilings, wonderful tile decorations, authentic Moroccan carpets, wooden doors with beautiful glass stained windows, combined with all the modern facilities in the spacious setting of the rooms and the riad itself were truly on point!
Next to that the atmosphere and beauty of the lush courtyard, the flower filled rooftop terrace and the contrast of the authentic medina surrounding it is hard to describe in words. Therefore let me show you through my personal and a few of the hotel’s pictures, and by telling you about the exceptional features of this hotel, so you can convince yourself.
(Remember to click on the pictures to see the full version and description)
Unique features Palais Amani Fes
- This riad is located above the Atlas mountains in the middle of Northern Morocco, which makes it the perfect place to explore this beautiful region from,
- The staff is welcoming and the service excellent with many activities offered, such as city tours, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, classes in henna painting or anything else you might desire,
- Their courtyard is the perfect example of a traditional Moroccan riad design with beauty everywhere you look! The gardens are lush, well kept and create a wonderful atmosphere including a stunning fountain in the middle,
- The design and decoration of the courtyard, rooms, windows and hallways is opulent but combines Moroccan charm perfectly with all the comfort and maintenance you can expect from a 5 star hotel,
- All rooms are comfortable with king-size bed, modern bathroom with bath, free WIFI, sound system with preloaded iPod, air-con, most have flatscreen TVs and all of the rooms have traditional door panels and stained-glass windows looking out onto the large private garden,
- Although there’s no pool at Palais Amani, the showers on the rooftop terrace and the courtyard fountain provide refreshment during the warm Moroccan summer days,
- The riad offers an excellent breakfast on the first floor terrace with views onto the courtyard with many small birds visiting the trees in the morning. They also have a wonderful rooftop bar with a big offering of alcoholic drinks, and an organic in house restaurant,
- The riad’s hammam is wonderfully decorated and exclusively uses organic products. Here they offer various traditional treatments while being immersed by beautiful authentic mozaik decoration and soft candle light.
The riad’s restaurant is open all day to serve a healthy lunch or a la carte dinner in the courtyard until 9.30 pm. Because we loved the rooftop terrace so much and wanted to enjoy the sunset we asked to have dinner there, and the Palais Amani team happily prepared a special table for us in the privacy of the flower filled terrace.
Watching the medina light up during night fall was so romantic and special. And the experience of having dinner outside in this wonderful atmosphere while enjoying their tasty dishes was truly unique. We had the pleasure to sample the newest 3 course dinner concept: ‘Market Moroccan’, with healthy authentic Moroccan dishes prepared only with fresh seasonal produce from the market around the corner. Everything is produced locally and some ingredients even come from the riad’s own garden!
The French-Moroccan cuisine of the restaurant is highly recommended, and with many seating options in the private open-air courtyard under the citrus trees or inside the riad’s salon, you don’t even have to leave the premises to enjoy authentic Moroccan quality food.
About Fes and surroundings
Palais Amani is located in the middle of the largest medina of Fes, which has been listed a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Fes is the 2nd largest city of Morocco and is called the cultural capital. I totally understand why, as there is so much to do and see here; a visit to the Jewish quarter while walking around the extensive and ancient medina with many traditional souks and shops, and experiencing the unique sights and smells of the leather tanneries.
(Remember to click on the pictures to see the full version and description)
But also a visit to the Koran schools (madrassa) which are well hidden inside the medina and beautifully decorated, and of course taking a picture in front of the renowned Royal Palace gates can not be missed!
If you fancy a day trip; only 75 km outside Fes you will find Volubilis, the best preserved Roman ruins in north Africa including many amazing mosaics. The Atlas Mountains are a drive away with stunning views over the colorful mountains towards the desert, while passing by many rural mountain villages.
And Chefchaouen, the blue pearl of Morocco, can be also be visited during a day tour from Fes. For more pics of this beautiful blue Unesco town you can check my
I hope to have convinced you to visit Fes and its beautiful surroundings when planning a trip to Morocco. If you do, a stay and dinner at the beautifully authentic but chic riad Palais Amani is something you certainly won’t regret.
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Would you like to visit Fes and stay in this riad while visiting Morocco, or have you been here already? Always love to hear your opinion, just leave a comment below!