Set within the ancient medina walls, Riad Fès is a grand former family residence that provides palatial living in modern-day Morocco. Guest rooms are spread out over five interconnected buildings, each with a different decorative theme, adding tons of personality to the interiors of an already unique structure. With its many inviting nooks and crannies and an almost labyrinthine quality to the corridors, terraces and stairwells, Riad Fès is essentially an upscale echo of the winding medina outside. Arrive at reception and look left to take in the first of several welcoming sights: the Moroccan patio is a lofty communal lounge, softly lamp-lit and splashed with bursts of navy and gold upholstery, twinkling tile-clad columns and floors, and thick folds of luxurious drapes, proffering a royal welcome to all new arrivals, whether or not their blood is blue.
30 rooms, including eight fabulous suites, over five buildings. Rooms vary in style – take your pick from traditional Moroccan, modern, Baroque or Andalusian styling. Some rooms can be connected for parties travelling together.
12pm, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in is 3pm.
Double rooms from £211.66 (MAD2,700), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of MAD4.00 per person per night on check-out.
Room rates include a breakfast buffet of fresh fruit, juices and vegetables, breads, pastries, preserves, cheeses and meats, plus hot drinks and hearty cooked dishes, such as Moroccan eggs and crepes.
Four of the ground-floor guest rooms are wheelchair accessible, and there are three more accessible by elevator. All of these rooms are fitted with walk-in showers.
At the hotel
Free WiFi, on-site boutique, compact gym with a handful of machines and workout equipment. In rooms: Free WiFi, TV, phone, air conditioning, free bottled water, minibar stocked with drinks and snacks, Nespresso coffee machine, Tchaba teas, bathrobes, slippers, hair dryer.
Our favourite rooms
Special occasions call for La Royale Suite, the only two-bedroom suite in the riad. This collection of rooms was used to welcome the former housekeeper’s prestigious guests and has been updated in a luxurious style that’s still in keeping with the building’s heritage. With its softly lit rooms, shimmering zellige tiling, soaring 4.5-metre carved cedar ceilings and ornate hand-finished stucco, it’s something of a stunner. The vast private terrace, all 180 square metres of it, comes with far-ranging views over the city. The sofas were designed by Piero Lissoni for Living Divani, and the fabrics are from Lelièvre Paris. There are two luxurious bathrooms, the larger of which centres on a rolltop tub with sturdy white feet standing in a sea of monochrome tile that stretches out to the decorative fireplace. The suite is a wonderful option for couples or families requiring more space, privacy and decorative eye candy.
The 14-metre open-air heated pool is free for languid laps in the Moroccan sunshine from 9am to 6pm each day. It’s bordered with a wooden deck, ripe for lounging poolside, and the small gym is located to one side.
Designer Christophe Pillet is behind the soothing stone and wood environs of the hotel spa. Guests can enjoy a range of treatments conceived by Cinq Mondes and marocMaroc in the tranquil treatment rooms. There are two hammam cabins, a steam room and an infrared sauna, plus bookable sessions with a personal trainer or guided classes in yoga and other mind and body-boosting pursuits.
Your most Insta-worthy swimsuit and top picks from your TBR pile – you’ll be glad of them when you spy the palace’s many comfy reading nooks.
Guests are welcomed to their quarters with mint tea and pastries.
A babysitting service is available on request at 100 MAD per hour.
Babies and up.
L’Ambassadeur suites, or go all out with the decadent La Royale Suite.
Miniature chefs can hone their culinary skills on a special children’s baking class – book in advance (and get ready to taste the results).
Children must be supervised by an accompanying adult while in the pool. Flotation aids are available on request, but other pool toys are not permitted.
A babysitting service is available on request at 100 MAD per hour.
The hotel has a selection of children’s toys to choose from.
Visitors to Riad Fès are encouraged to follow the usual planet-friendly practices, such as reducing unnecessary changing of towels and bed linens, and mindful usage of in-room energy while they’re out hunting for souk treasures for the mantelpiece. All used coffee capsules are returned to Nespresso for recycling and kitchen oil is processed by a local oil recycling company. The restaurant menu is created entirely from local produce, such as fruit and veg from the souks, and foie gras from a Fez farm.
The dining room is undeniably charming. But in fine weather, the best place to feast is a fountainside table just outside.
Think comfortable chic, with colour and prints that pop.
Head chef Lalla Abida takes care of guests’ appetites at Gayza, the hotel’s beautifully remodelled restaurant. The formal dining room is done out in rich colours, with heavy drapery, wood panelling and pendant lighting, lending it an intimate atmosphere further enhanced by the strumming of the resident lute player come evening. The locally sourced menu is made up of dishes inspired by Moroccan cuisine, as well as flavours from around the globe. Try the Lham Mhamar: lamb served with onion jam and caramelized onions.
The main hotel watering hole is Gayza Le Bar, open 12pm to midnight daily and serving bar plates and a tempting afternoon tea. There’s a broad selection of wines and cocktails. The signature drink is, of course, the Funky Old Medina. Take the elevator up as far as it goes to find yourself at Le Rooftop Bar. This is the highest point in the medina, with correspondingly superlative views over majestic old structures and city fortifications, watched over by Tghat and Zalagh mountains. Listening to the call to prayer up here at the end of the day is a highlight. The bar is open from 4pm to 11pm for canapés and delightful mises en bouche to accompany the range of cocktails and wines.
Breakfast is served at the restaurant between 7am and 10.30am. Dinner is served between 7pm and 11pm.
A room service menu is available for in-room meals until midnight.
The stately sprawl of Riad Fès sits within the walls of medieval Fez medina, moments from the activity of busy artisans and traders.
Fez Saiss airport is 30 minutes away by road. You can request a hotel transfer for 250 MAD for two to three people, or 500 MAD for a minivan to transport four to six passengers.
You can book a hotel transfer from Fez train station (around ten minutes by car) for 100 MAD each way.
As Fes El Bali medina is blissfully car free, there’s no parking on hotel premises. Drivers can park at Batha Square, around five minutes’ walk away, and call for a porter to escort them to the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
First stop has to be a wander through the medina passageways to shop artisanal creations and appreciate the local architecture, such as the university building, the mosques and the ancient medina ramparts. Take a different view on a hike in the Atlas mountains, stepping through olive groves frequented by frolicking goats, and peering down on the medieval tangle of streets below. Meet more local wildlife on a walk through a cedar forest, stopping to treat the curious macaques to morsels of fruit. Wine-tasting sessions are available to book, either at the hotel itself or at a local vineyard.
For a change of scenery, be sure to seek out the riad’s sister hotel, Hôtel Sahrai, for drinks in the green-and-gold confection that is the Jungle Bar, or a relaxed lunch under the white vaulting of the Arcades Bar.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this lavish abode tucked away in the medina and unpacked their souk trouvailles, a full account of their riad adventure will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Riad Fès in the magnificent city of Fez…
You’d be excused for pausing, awestruck, on entering the lavish interior of this 14th-century riad. Here, traditional Moroccan features are celebrated and overlaid with elements of Baroque, Andalusian and contemporary styles that become evident as you explore each meticulously remodelled area. Colourful mosaic glimmers all around, punctuated with vast sweeps of sumptuous fabric, pops of stained glass, intricately carved wooden doors and delicate latticework, allowing intriguing glimpses into further tantalising spaces. The guest rooms are correspondingly dazzling, illuminated by the soft glow of standing lamps and sconces, and finished in warm tones, with gorgeous tilework interrupted underfoot with the occasional soft rug. A seemingly endless network of passageways and stairwells dotted with bulbous urns runs through the place, opening onto courtyard lounges with vertiginous ceilings or charming terraces offering differing perspectives over the city below. Find the crowning glory up on the rooftop: a formidable tableau of sky, mountain and medieval engineering laid out for you.