Imagine the world’s largest car free area filled with almost 10,000 streets…this is Fez’s medina and inside it sits a little slice of paradise – Palais Amani.
You are dropped just outside the medina and then a smiling porter guides you through a narrow medina street to enter a magical world of mystery. Just as you imagine getting lost you arrive at two huge wooden doors, entering an orange scented palatial courtyard which is at the centre of life at Palais Amani.
Each of the 18 bedrooms and suites are completely different both in design and layout. The Grand Suite (occupied by newlyweds on our visit) covers the whole 100 sq/m of the south wing. Our room had a vast bed surrounded by Moroccan lanterns and stunning local lighting. A nice touch is the gift of traditional Moroccan slippers to wear in the room and at home. The bathroom with Moroccan tiles has rose infused products and has that distinct orange scent we were met with earlier.
Dinner here is taken seriously and can be enjoyed indoors or in the courtyard of this 1930s art deco riad. Eden Restaurant has two styles of menus – traditional Moroccan with French influences or Moroccan tapas. A tajine of lamb shanks with coriander and zucchini was delicate and wholesome.
But it is breakfast memories that we talk about on a foodie tour of the medina. Possibly one of the finest breakfast experiences of the year. Breakfast is a three-course celebration and includes a daily changing traditional Moroccan dishes. Aside from the wide selection of fruit, pastries, breads, eggs and warm and cold drinks, Moroccan specials include Harira and Meloui, M’hammer or Bghrir.
Palais Amani is home to a gorgeous roof terrace with 360 degree views of Fez where we caught the rays of sunshine by day and sipped cocktails in the rooftop bar by night. But the one thing you can’t miss is the remarkable Fez Cooking School on the far side of this huge roof terrace.
Start with a visit out into the medina’s local souks with Palais Amani’s chef. Find your way back for a cooking workshop at Fez Cooking School and finish by enjoying the union of spices and culture in the meal afterwards in the luxuriant Andalusia gardens or on the roof terrace. Without a guide you will get lost in the Fez medina, perhaps that is part of the charm but for those looking for an experience, book into a cookery classes.
After all that action we wanted to relax Moroccan style. The hammam is lit by candlelight only with a hot room, exfoliation room and a luxury relaxation chamber.
Fez may not be as popular as Marrakech but that is part of the appeal. There is no such thing as ‘over tourism’ here, you literally feel you have discovered a hidden destination and all this, less than three hours from major European cities.
To discover more and book, visit: www.palaisamani.com
Top 5 Fez Experiences nearby Palais Amani:
1 – Shop for authentic Moroccan items – With Palais Amani being set on the edge of the oldest part of the medina, a vibrant crafts district awaits. Aside from home furnishings, a wide selection of fashion items can be purchased.
2 – Learn the old skill of bookbinding with a local – CRAFT DRAFT in the medina offer a 4-hour workshop which guides the guest through the step-by-step technique to craft their own handmade leather journal with long stitches.
3 – Head for the hills – Leave the medina behind and head towards the countryside where an altogether different Fez is visible. A 30 minute drive with a guide takes you to the Zalagh hillside where you can enjoy a picnic organised by the hotel.
4 – Visit the annual World Sacred Music Festival – Each June, The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music takes place across the city. Various venues, squares and hotels across the city host music concerts including Palais Amani. https://www.fez-riads.com/fes-festival-of-world-sacred-music/
5 – Eat your way around a growing food scene – From market stalls to traditional riad dining rooms, Fez has choice. Moroccan cuisine is varied but Fez is also home to a unique Thai restaurant called Café Clock. www.cafeclock.com/
By Peter Sousa
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