Riad Idrissy, Fez

We only stayed at the Riad Idrissy for one night so there’s no video review as there usually is with our hotel reviews, just this collection of images we snapped on the evening of arrival and morning of departure, and a few notes to help you get an impression of the place.

Location – Most riads in the old city of Fez are impossible to find alone, you really do need somebody from the riad to come out and meet you at one of the many city gates, but we managed to get to the Idrissy ourselves by following the signs for the Ruined Garden restaurant, which is attached to the Idrissy. It took us 20 minutes to walk there from the bus station. Scout around online for directions or if you’re not confident of finding your own way then do ask the owners to send somebody out to guide you in.

Arrival – There’s no recognizable reception area that we saw, you just walk into the Ruined Garden restaurant and ask where the Idrissy is (it’s the building at the back of the restaurant garden). We were greeted by Sue, an Australian lady, and then Robert, one of the owners, in the riad’s central courtyard. They explained about the riad’s history and pointed out a few highlights, the fountain in the wall, for example (Sue said that this makes it a dar rather than a riad, apparently, the main difference being that a riad would have a fountain in the central courtyard whilst a dar would have a fountain in the wall). Robert spent a year designing the interior of the riad as it was a ruin when he and his business partner acquired it and he’s created a place that will occupy photographers for hours, perhaps days (the look and feel of the courtyard changes as the angle of sunlight does). Here are a few images that we took of the courtyard.

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The Room – Our  room on the first floor had a 4 poster bed draped with and enclosed within a single length of white sheer muslin and reached by three steps.

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The bed was as comfy as it looks. Three windows looked down onto the courtyard. The central larger window had ornately painted wooden doors.

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There were no locks on the doors of any of the rooms but we had a safe in the wardrobe, along with two male jalabayas and two female Moroccan dresses in case you wanted to go native (Lamia did).

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The bathroom had two shower heads, heated towel rail, ample towels and a subtle floral scent. The toilet and water worked fine (always the case in Moroccan riads that we stayed in but worth mentioning as not always the case in regular Moroccan hotels).

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The floor was laid with classic moon-white checked tiles whilst the bedside tables were covered in aged racing-green leather. We found it a very quiet, cool space to be in. All in all there was a very individual, contemporary and classy feel to the room with varied influences on show, from the Saharan wood ornaments to the orientalist view of what a sleeping experience in the exotic east should be (which we didn’t mind at all!). Many riads adhere strictly to a traditional look which is nice enough but it’s also good to have an artist like Robert inject some of their personality into the building so it feels different to the average riad experience (which can be almost like staying in a museum).

Outside our room was the library with plenty of guide and travel books that led into what Robert called the Evita balcony which had tables and chairs and a view over the Hidden Garden restaurant.

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Upstairs was the roof terrace which had far reaching views over the medina. From here we watched pigeons circling at dusk among the minarets as their owners called them home to roost.

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After three weeks of travelling in Morocco it was really nice to communicate with people in our native language of English once again. I wasn’t keen on the fact that people could look into our room from the library or from the room opposite if I had either doors or windows shutters open as I like to sleep naked and be free in the room. Obviously some modern people might enjoy the exposure and free feel with this layout but it’s not for me.

On the other hand, you could say that it’s like a family home rather than a private hotel room due to the open concept.

A lot of the guests spoke English as their native language and the restaurant attracted many English speakers so it’s a good place to come if you’re 30+ and want to either meet other people of the same situation (English speaker, reasonably well off) or be in that environment.

Before breakfast a basket with tea and coffee is left outside of each room, so you can have a drink whilst you wake up and get dressed.

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Breakfast is served wherever you want in the Ruined Garden restaurant and is superb. Banana, apple and cherry fruit salad, muesli, plain yogurt, honey, fresh orange juice, tea, crepes, condiments of orange marmalade and lemon jam, all made in house. The main star of breakfast, for me, was a magnificent fried egg and tomato dish, brought to the table sizzling.

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The Riad Idrissy is in our opinion definitely worth a stay. It’s very friendly, comfortable, individual in feel and serves a substantial, well cooked breakfast. See more at http://www.riadidrissy.com/

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