Planning a trip to the fascinating imperial city of Fez? I recommend staying at the Riad Laaroussa which is located inside the Medina. This 17th century palace is a welcome retreat of peace after spending the day exploring the chaotic Medina. My Mom and I had the pleasure of spending 3 lovely days at this riad in September 2012.
What’s a Riad?
Historically, it is a traditional Moroccan home with an open garden or courtyard. However, now most function as hotels/resorts. Riads are more inward focused. You won’t see large exterior windows. In fact, the exterior is plain and you are unable to tell if the home is upper or lower class. There are clay walls with a huge (and in some cases, ornate) door. Once you enter thru the massive door, you will be amazed at how lovely the interior is. Beautiful tiles & mosaics, water fountains, lush fabrics…riads provide you with the opulence of a grand mansion combined with a cozy atmosphere. These lovely “homes” only have a small number of rooms (i.e. 5-10). Riads provide you with a unique Moroccan experience that you won’t get staying in a hotel.
Riad Laaroussa will arrange for a taxi from the airport, train station, or other cities at your request. Your taxi will drop you off just outside one of the gates to the Medina. The streets are very narrow inside the Medina so no cars are allowed…only push carts, donkeys & mules. They will also arrange for a luggage porter (who will have a wooden cart) to greet you at the gate and lead you to the riad which is just a few minutes walk away. My advice…do not try to find the riad on your own. The Medina has over 9,000 streets and this riad is located off a side street from another side street. A 20 Dirham (which is approximately $2 USD) tip to a luggage porter is money well spent. Plus, this will allow you to take in the sights and sounds of the Medina while walking to your destination.
This riad surrounds a breathtaking courtyard that has 2 water fountains and beautiful landscaping. There are open lounge/sitting areas surrounding the courtyard. Each area makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Tables surround the courtyard so you are able to eat breakfast or dinner in a lush environment.
The courtyard is also where you will find 3 of the Riad Laaroussa inhabitants. Mimi the Cat and her 2 canine companions are extremely friendly (and very lazy). If you are an animal lover, you won’t want to leave them at the end of your stay. Typically, Mimi & crew are waiting to greet you as you enter the courtyard and hang around long enough for belly rubs before dinner (and will stick around during dinner just in case you are feeling charitable & want to share). As you can see from the pictures below, they aren’t missing any meals 🙂
Rooms & Suites
There are 8 rooms (4 rooms & 4 suites) at the Riad Laaroussa. Each room has a theme color (we stayed in the Orange Suite). Be sure to check out the pictures on the riad website (linked above) or tripadvisor.com as each suite is different. Upon arrival, we were taken to our room and given time to relax before heading up to dinner. Words really can’t describe how wonderful this place is so I created a video. My videography skills aren’t that great (this is my first one) but I hope it captures how fabulous this place is.
The chef at the Riad Laaroussa is PHENOMENAL! You can dine in the courtyard or on the terrace (which is up several sets of very steep stairs). The riad provides a bountiful breakfast of fruits & pastries (you can request eggs as well) and a daily set menu. Want to learn how to cook the fabulous Fassi cuisine? Join the chef on her daily trip to the market and spend an afternoon in the kitchen watching her create delicious dishes for the evening. Make sure you are camera ready as the staff will stop by your table to take pictures then email them to you so you have a keepsake of your time in Fez.
The Hammam & Spa
What better way to unwind from a day of sightseeing than to enjoy the Riad Laaroussa’s hammam & spa? The massage is fab-u-lous! You pick between a couple of fragrant oils (my choices were “orange flower” and “jasmine”). Those magical hands lulled me right into a light nap. Want to know more about what to expect when visiting a hammam? Check out my Tale of 2 Hammams post.
If you are looking for the perfect place to unwind and relax during your visit to Fez, this is the place. Have insightful conversations over mint tea while learning about Moroccan culture from the locals. I must warn you that this riad is not suitable to those who are wheelchair bound or have mobility issues due to the amount of stairs. Other than that, this place is perfect. Centrally located with delicious food and an absolutely phenomenal staff, the Riad Laaroussa is a wonderful place to stay during your exotic trip to Fez. So forget using hotel chain rewards points and enjoy the unique experience of staying in a riad!
Nikki’s Rating: Absolutely Wonderful 5
Rating Scale 1-5 (1 = GET OUT NOW; 2 = Seriously?; 3 = Eh, it’ll do; 4 = Fabulous; 5 = Absolutely Wonderful)