Riad Maison Bleue located within a few minutes’ walk of the Medina, and a short taxi ride from the buzz of Fes’ contemporary new town with its coffee shops and restaurants.
Fes, or Fez, is Morocco’s second largest city, and sits north west of the country’s stunning Atlas Mountains. This city has always been alluring for me. I first visited nearly 20 years ago, taking the fast ferry from Spain to Tangier and driving down, through rolling countryside, small hamlets, and cedar forests.
This latest visit was a long weekend, made easy made the new direct flight connection with Ryanair. Fes has a remodelled airport, making the arrival and immigration clearance a swift and comfortable process.
From the airport it’s a 30-40 minutes’ transfer to old Fes (Fes el Bali)
Dating from 789, Fes is the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities and has a history steeped in culture, and even today it is known worldwide for the work of its artists and artisans. Old Fes, or the medina, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and thanks to the city having one of the world’s largest urban pedestrian zones, visitors can stroll its landmarks, bustling squares, and souks in comfort.
The city is huge, having continued to expand over many centuries. I like to say that Fes is now a tale of three cities. In addition to Fès el-Bali (the ancient a medina), there is also ‘Fès el-Jdid’ (New Fez) founded in the 13th century by the Marinids dynasty. Finally, the newest part of Fez, is the ‘Ville Nouvelle,’ the contemporary commercial district, with its wide palm-lined avenues, built at the beginning of the 20th century by the French during the era of the French and Spanish protectorates.
Design & Ambiance
Riad architecture always holds such surprises. From the outside, properties look nondescript, their treasured hidden behind high walls.
When you arrive at Riad Maison Bleue the taxi driver will lead you to a modest doorway, that opens to a small reception office. Yet beyond lies the beautiful riad that will delight.
The elegant combination of traditional Moroccan design infused with modern elements is in evidence throughout the Riad, which is constructed of three interconnecting houses that reflect the iconic laneways around Fes’ ancient Medina. Guests are greeted with a traditional welcome of refreshments, such as any Moroccan family would offer to visitors: large dates stuffed with walnuts, suffused with a drop of fragrant rose water, accompanied by a small shot of milk. It’s a greeting that sets the scene for an authentic experience with contemporary touches.
Rooms & Suites
The rooms are spacious, and great care has been taken to deliver a design ambiance that is typically Moroccan using an imaginative blend of antiques and modern comforts like air conditioning and spacious bathrooms.
The suites are where an Arabian Nights dream comes alive, and offering the highest level of comfort, with beautifully decorated with ornamental tiles, chiselled plaster ceilings, antique furniture, and the finest fabrics, while the prestigious rooftop residence offers guests unrivalled views over the Medina’s North Gate and old city walls.
The riad also offers guests the chance to learn how to cook Moroccan cuisine at home with a masterclass from La Maison Bleue’s Culinary School – the first of its kind in Fes. The hotel also offers “Epicurean Experiences” – a package that combines the cookery classes with tasting tours of the Medina, a visit to a winery in Meknes, couscous hand-rolling workshops in a village in the countryside and seasonal excursions such as orange-blossom water making and olive oil pressing.
Restaurant La Maison Bleue is proud to offer generational cuisine with recipes passed down through the El Abbadi family for centuries and has a reputation of producing the finest traditional Moroccan cuisine in Fes. The restaurant offers classic Moroccan dishes, such as tagines, cous cous and aromatic salads, all served with finesse. Each meal starts with fresh, authentic salads beautifully presented in small tagines.
The elegant terrace restaurant offers panoramic views of the city while dining.
There are two bars: one is an elegant cocktail bar where the staff prepares drinks wearing traditional fez hats, situated on the Riad’s terraces with views of the Medina, and the newly renovated Blue Lounge, which is a contemporary space in which to enjoy pre-dinner drinks, tasting plates and cocktails.
La Maison – dining with live music
Guests can also visit sister property La Maison Bleue for a captivating dining experience with live entertainment. This property also offers accommodation. Although we only went for dinner – an enjoyable evening of traditional cuisine and music. The team is a delight, so friendly and I was impressed by the thoughtful gestures, like decorating the table with my name.
Spa, Hammam & Gym
Although closed during my recent visit, typically guests can relax by indulging in the Moroccan hammam experience that uses the traditional methods sauna treatment and exfoliating body scrub, followed by a massage using exotic aromatic oils and scents, whilst its well-equipped fitness studio with views of the hills enables guests to keep in shape, and during summer, the rooftop terrace is a space for revitalising yoga classes.
Find Out More
Address: Riad Maison Bleue, 33 Derb El Mitter, Ain Azleten, Old Fes, Morocco