One afternoon after a long day of work, my friend, Hanna, suggested to ‘go somewhere’ as a celebration for Eid-ul-Fitr; marking the end of the holy month of fasting, Ramadan. By ‘go somewhere’, I would never have predicted the next words that came out of her mouth. She said, ‘How about Morocco?’
Next thing you know, we booked our flights with Ryanair, and began the hunt for a place to stay for the short trip. We decided on travelling to Fes, instead of the more popular Marrakech. When travelling, I love soaking up culture and experiencing something different from my everyday life in London. Looking online, it seemed that Fes had retained its culture and history, making it an attractive option for us!
Once we had booked our flights, we had to search for a hotel. Initially, we were looking for AirBnB places as usually these places are more authentic and cheaper. By chance, we looked on Expedia and found that 4* hotels within the Fes Medina (including breakfast) could be found for the same price as an AirBnB. So we decided to go for Riad Fes Mazar (http://www.riad-fes-mazar.com/), a guest house/hotel located within the Fes Medina, close proximity to all the important locations. We booked a small twin room for 4 nights – Wednesday til Sunday.
The night before we arrived in Fes, I emailed the owners of the guest house (brothers Mohamed and Khalid) to ask for a taxi pick up from the airport. They replied quickly (despite the time of day, and that it was Eid). When we arrived in Fes, someone was waiting for us at the exit with my name written on a sheet of paper. It was quite comforting to know exactly how much we would pay for the journey, and that we were in safe hands with someone who would take us right up the the hotel.
A couple of minutes into the ride to the hotel, Mohamed had called the taxi driver to check up on us and make sure that we had arrived in Fes and that the driver had collected us. We found this so sweet, it was as if a family member was checking up on us to see when we were coming home.
Once we arrived to the Riad (20/25 mins from the airport), we were met with a huge welcome by Mohamed and were told to drop our luggage and sit down. Now, anyone who has stayed in a hotel, in any country, will know the protocol. Check in, sign some details, pay some money, get the key and the wifi password, go to the room and relax. When we sat down, a kind lady came out with some mint tea and coconut biscuits. As we sipped on some mint tea, whilst taking in the grande splendour of the Riad, Mohamed sat down with us and asked about our journey and our plans for the next few days.
As an avid traveller, I always try to have a vague itinerary of places I have researched and would like to visit on holiday. Depending on the size of the city, I sometimes group them into location, to make it easier when planning our day. This time, Hanna had written an itinerary for us and we had planned on going to Chefchaouen (the blue city) on the Saturday. Mohamed advised us to change this trip to the Friday instead. Friday is a day of worship and prayer for Muslims and so shops would be closed for the morning and early afternoon. The trip to Chefchaouen would be more to see the blue streets and so it would make more sense to go there on Friday and then be in Fes on Saturday to continue with our plans. We hadn’t thought about this, so we were grateful for his suggestion.
Mohamed and Khalid were always on call if there was anything we needed, and booked the 3-hour tour guide that we had for the first day, as well as ensuring we had a spacious car for the journey to Chefchaouen. They made sure that the tour guide and driver could speak good English, making it easy to communicate and ensuring we got the most out of our trip.
After finishing the mint tea (which by the way was DELICIOUS), we went upstairs to our room. To our surprise, we were upgraded to a larger twin room due to it being a low season at the time and there being space. Our room as an absolute delight, every corner oozed detail and intricacy. Everything from the bed sheets, to the bathroom sink reminded us of where we were. The room had air conditioning, important for us especially in the sweltering 40 degree heat that we experienced whilst we were there.
The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast at 8am, as we had a tour guide booked for 8.30am. Breakfast is whatever time you wish, there is no set times for this – again another home-like comfort. For breakfast, we were SPOILT with mesemen, omlettes, chocolate cake, natural yoghurt, baguettes and mint tea. It wasn’t like a help yourself buffet of sub-standard food. Everything was made individually, and came out one after the other. The portion sizes werePERFECT and enough to satisfy us without feeling uncomfortably stuffed. The surroundings of the sitting area itself were absolutely amazing, and with every bite of the food, we’d gasp at another fine detail that we spotted on the ceiling, wall or floor.
Every morning was like this. We would look forward to breakfast as if that was what we came here for. The location of the Riad was perfect. 5 min walk from the famous Baab Boujloud, and from the resturants and main market areas. We only took a taxi once to get to the ‘new Fes’ region to see the Royal Palace.
Whenever we needed something, Mohamed and Khalid were a simple phone call away, and we did also see them sitting around the Riad from time to time.
The only possible issue we may have had is that the staff did not speak English (which is fair, considering we were in Morocco). Luckily, Hanna speaks fluent French and was able to relay any messages that we had. It may be a bit of a struggle to communicate to the staff otherwise. Having said that, it wouldn’t be a huge issue, as Mohamed/Khalid were a phone call away.
Overall, I would recommend this hotel to anyone interested in travelling to Fes. Staying at Riad Mazar gave us the PERFECT experience of Fes, it was our home for four days, and we were truly comfortable and happy during our stay. We would like to thank Mohamed and Khalid for the hospitality and warm welcome that they gave us throughout our holiday. If I were to return to Fes, I would without doubt come back to Riad Mazar.
If there are any issues I haven’t mentioned, do leave me a question below – or drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will try my best to answer.
– A Y –