Palais Amani is one of the largest and most spectacular of the grand riads within the walls of Fez‘s old medina. Most of the building dates back to the 1920s and thus displays a very distinctive Moroccan Art Deco style with beautiful monochrome mosaic work and ornate stained glass windows. In the center of the property, there’s a citrus and jasmine scented courtyard garden, where little more than birdsong and the fountain’s gentle tinkling disturb the silence and the rooms look out onto this captivating central garden courtyard. A meticulous renovation enhanced the century-old palace with calligraphy, copperwork and embroidery stitched by local artisans. Moroccan wooden furniture, handwoven rugs and colorful ceramics are found throughout the communal areas and ornate staircases.
Former family home of a wealthy fabric merchant, the Palais Amani was rebuilt in the 1920’s after a serious landslide. The turn of the century restoration included many modern building techniques of the time and a strong art deco influence that is unusual in the medina. It was bought by its current owners in 2006 and transformed into a luxury boutique hotel with the official opening on 2010. The refurbishment took three and a half years during which all modern comforts were installed, transforming it into the luxury hotel that it is today. Amani means desires or wishes in Arabic and Palais Amani seeks to fulfil your wishes. If one of your wishes is a taste of the riad experience but with luxuries like elevators and extra sound proofing, Palais Amani will fulfill those wishes too.
The 17th century home had been almost uninhabited since the 1970s. Only a guardian, his wife and two children lived in a small part of the then-dilapidated mansion, preventing the building from being ransacked. The Palais Amani has 15 rooms, 9 of which are suites; all offering the same level of comfort and amenities. During the restoration all original room dimensions were respected resulting in unique rooms and suites each with its own character and some of the grander suites measuring as much as 100 sqm. Several of the 15 spacious rooms and suites are split-level, and all share ornate tilework and lofty, carved-wood beam ceilings. Original artwork and beds with crisp, hand-embroidered linens sit harmoniously alongside such high-tech gadgets as Bose sound systems, flat-screen TVs and preloaded iPods. The state-of-the-art bathrooms have large tubs or tiled rain showers and are stocked with natural aromatic bath products.
The Palais Amani is also renowned for its modern moroccan restaurant and à la carte menu. Palais Amani’s restaurant offers both traditional and more inventive Moroccan cuisine. Dishes include slow cooked beef with wild artichokes, monkfish tajine with peppers and saffron or the infamous chicken pastilla to name a few. Combining Arab, Berber, Moorish and Mediterranean influences, the food at Palais Amani is a marriage of ancient ways of cooking with a modern touch of serving. A Moroccan tapas menu is also available throughout the day. Clients can dine in the garden under the trees or in the dining room.
A rooftop bar is another feature, where guests can star gaze with a cocktail and tapas selection. After a day in the frenetic medina, unwind in the hammam with refreshing and exfoliating steam and scrub treatments. The relaxing 600 sqm garden leads the Hammam where guests travel to a world of sensations and relaxation enjoying a selection of traditional Moroccan rituals. The Hammam is designed in true Moroccan style complete with a hot room, an exfoliation room, separate showers and a luxury relaxation chamber, all perfect after a day out. There are also a salon, a library and dining terraces, each offering guests private luxury and impeccable service.
Steeped in centuries old traditions and culture, Fez makes a fascinating holiday destination. As the cultural and spiritual centre of Morocco, its medina is one of the best-conserved historic towns of the Arab-Muslim world and the largest in Africa. Take the short walk through the labyrinth of streets and souks to the town’s center from Palais Amani’s quiet corner in the ancient medina. Don’t miss the Al-Karaouine, the world’s oldest university; the stunning 14th-century Bou Inania Madrasa and the pungent but colorful tanneries, not to mention the workshops of other traditional craftmakers. The golden triangle is the centre of the medina where the major mosques and monuments are located and the Palais Amani is less than 200 metres from here, making it an ideal choice for any sightseeing of this fascinating ancient city.
Imagine this all to yourself. For a true taste of life in an authentic Moroccan riad exclusive use means immersion in the lifestyle, customs and traditions yet with the ultimate privacy for a group of family or friends. A riad really is the ultimate exclusive-use holiday pad, full of history, style and charm, yet peaceful and private due to its inward-facing design.
The beauty of the building is that each room is different: in the luxury room category, some are low beamed and cosy, others are high ceilinged, all have the same amenities and comfort. These six elegant bedrooms allow you to enjoy the luxury of this exceptional hotel at a competitive rate. Features a daily housekeeping, in-room safe, ipod docking station, air conditioning, turndown service and free wifi.
The Mezzanine suites are intimate and cosy and spread over two floors. The luxury Junior Suites are high ceilinged rooms traditionally used to entertain prestigious guests. Both the Mezzanine and the Luxury Junior Suite have a master bedroom, elegant salon and bathroom with choice of either bath or shower. They can accommodate an extra rollaway bed so can sleep up to three. Features a daily housekeeping, in-room safe, ipod docking station, air conditioning, turndown service and free wifi.
The Grand Suite
This splendid room covers the whole 100 sqm of the South Wing. Salon, his and hers dressing rooms, spectacular bathroom and breathtaking views onto the gardens and the hills beyond. Features a daily housekeeping, in-room safe, ipod docking station, air conditioning, turndown service, and free wifi.
The Senior Suite
The Senior suites are simply superb. Either the Misriah Two, an opulent suite with reception room and stairs to its private roof terrace or the communicating suites, spacious and exuberant. In this category, all the suites have an additional single room so are priced for three. They can easily accommodate an extra rollaway bed. Minimum dimensions 45 sqm, they have a salon and dressing area as well as comfortable bathroom. Features a daily housekeeping, in-room safe, ipod docking station, air conditioning, turndown service and free wifi.
The Misriah Apartment
The Misriah Apartments are self-contained apartment comprising of two suites and private roof terrace, ideal for friends or families. Covering two floors and a total of 87 sqm these apartments can be booked for up to 4 adults and two children under 12. They are the only rooms having views onto the street below and can be booked by combining an exceptional suite and junior suite category. Features a daily housekeeping, in-room safe, ipod docking station, air conditioning, turndown service and free wifi.
The relaxing 600 sqm garden leads the Hammam where guests travel to a world of sensations and relaxation enjoying a selection of traditional Moroccan rituals. The Hammam is designed in true Moroccan style complete with a hot room, an exfoliation room, separate showers and a luxury relaxation chamber, all perfect after a day out. The effects of a Hammam: Glowing elasticity and softness of skin. The Guests can benefits of ritual massages which take place in one of massage rooms overlooking the garden but the tented pergola on the roof terrace is a unique site for guests to enjoy massages and beauty treatments during the spring and autumn months. They offer a tailor made of oils using products from the aromatic gardens of the Ourika. Their base is argan oil produced only in Morocco and different essential oils to suit your needs.
Roof Terrace and Solarium
On the roof terrace you can dine, have a drink in the bar, enjoy a massage in the open air. Or simply absorb the 360° views of the ancient city and the mountains beyond. There’s not another hotel in Morocco with a terrace quite as spectacular this one and, just think, you’ll be able to enjoy it for the duration of your stay.
Many guestrooms overlook the 600 sqm riad’s magical gardens; an oasis of serenity filled with fountains, citrus trees and a tiled courtyard.
“Top 50 Honeymoon Destinations 2016” – awarded by The Telegraph
“Top Romantic Hotel since 2011” – awarded by Tripadvisor
The history of Palais Amani:
After four years of meticulous reconstruction and renovation, the Palais Amani opened its doors in April 2010. But the palaces origins date to as far back as the 17th century. The previous owners, the Lahlou family, a prosperous merchant family trading with anchester, bought the palace in the 1920’s to be their family home. Shortly after they bought it, a landslide destroyed most of the building, and the majority of the building was rebuilt between 1928 and 1930, using modern building techniques and architectural styles of the time, which explains the art Deco feel that the building still has today. In the 1930’s and 40’s up to 50 family members lived together in the palace. Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and children lived together here in Fassi cultural tradition.
During the French protectorate, the medina (ancient walled city) was used to control the indigenous population and curfews were frequent. By the end of the 50’s, the medina was seen as a place of repression and after the departure of the Europeans, those who could afford to move out did so, moving into the new town that was seen as a place of free movement. In the last fifteen years, the treasures of the medina, that were run down and abandoned, have been given a new lese of life as both European and Moroccans alike have come to realise the full value of this incredible site. When the Palace was bought in 2006 it had been uninhabited since the 1970’s apart from a guardian and his family who lived in what is now room 2. Their presence meant that the majority of the wrought iron, stained glass and exquisite (but tired) carved doors remained in the building for the day someone would come to restore them.
When to go:
As far as the climate goes, the best time to visit the south or at least the desert routes outside midsummer, when for most of the day it’s far too hot for casual exploration, especially if you’re dependent on public transport. July and August, the hottest months, can be wonderful on the coast, however, while in the mountains there are no set rules. Spring, which comes late by European standards (around April and May), is perhaps the best overall time, with a summer climate in the south and in the mountains, as well as on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. Winter can be perfect by day in the south, though desert nights can get very cold. If you’re planning to hike in the mountains, it’s best to keep to the months from April to October unless you have some experience of snow conditions. Weather apart, the Islamic religious calendar and its related festivals will have the most seasonal effect on your travel. The most important factor is Ramadan, the month of daytime fasting; this can be a problem for transport, and especially hiking, though the festive evenings do much to compensate.
Moroccan cuisine is one of the most diverse cuisines in the world but very often visitors to the country do not get to sample the immense variety of what everyday Moroccans eat. The aim of Palais Amani therefore is to introduce you to the variety of Moroccan cuisine by cooking the type of dishes found in Moroccan homes revitalized with a twist of creativity, sophistication and modernity brought to the table by their acclaimed chef. Their chef creates a three course meal every week using fresh, seasonal produce from the market just around the corner from the Palais, farmed just outside of Fez, to marry traditional recipes with contemporary methods and presentation. Fez’s cuisine derives from the 13th century Arabo-Andalusian cooking. Typical Fassi dishes include tajines and couscous with plenty of fruit, vegetables and spices. As the cultural and spiritual centre of Morocco, its medina is one of the best-conserved historic towns of the Arab-Muslim world filled with many small stalls and shops selling vast varieties of food.
Roof Top Bar
Located in what used to be the winter salon on the roof terrace, the bar is bathed in sunlight and has breathtaking 360° views of Fez and the hills beyond. From the roof top you can enjoy looking down on the Riad’s spectacular garden. It is a perfect place to unwind while listening to the sounds of the medina. Tapas menu to accompany a drink or cocktail available from 3.30 p.m. till late.
Sadly many tourists only schedule a couple of days in Fez. They leave knowing they could have spent at least a month exploring the Medina and taking trips to Volubilis and Meknes. Fez is the cultural and spiritual centre of Morocco, its medina is one of the best-conserved historic towns of the Arab-Muslim world and the largest in Africa. Palais Amani is located with the walls of Fez’s ancient medina, just a few minutes walk from the Golden Triangle. It is advantageously placed near the Cultural, Historical and Religious Center of the Fez Medina. Fez itself is a vibrant tourist hub whilst the nearby Atlas Mountains offer ample opportunities for adventure. Fez is also a dream destination for food lovers and a visit to Africa’s largest medina found in Fez will arouse the taste buds like nowhere else. The almost 10.000 car free streets are filled with Moroccan street food served as visitors stand and move between tiny stalls often with one food item in hand. Diverse cafes, pop up restaurants and more luxurious restaurants in riads can also be found across the medina.
Get lost in the Old Medina – Fes El Bali in the Old Medina, a Unesco World heritage site, is thought to be the largest car free urban area in the world and is home to the world’s first university. Fes El Bali has beautiful Islamic gates on the main entrances and exits which stand where the old city wall used to be some of which is still standing. Bab Al Jeloud is a good place to start your wandering as taxi’s can drop you there. Although there are tourist aspects to several parts of the souk (also known as the markets), almost all sections are for locals and so despite people crowding you out, very few actually want anything other than for you to get out of the way. Everything you need for a magical Aladin theme, from slippers and spices to carpets and genie lamps to be found here. The whole area is saturated with history and interesting stalls, nooks and crannies. Right in the centre of the Souks is the kissaria, where luxury items and export specialities of the area such as colourful, rich brocades and silks or intricate jewellery are sold.
Discover Chouara Tanneries – One of the big tourist aspects of Fez is the tanneries where hard manual labour turns leather different colours. Before you see them though you will smell them and some shops even give you a mint bouquet as you enter to take away the pungent odour. The odour comes from the mix of bird poo and cow pee that makes them up! Boys with aspirations to be the next tanners collect the pigeon droppings each day and it’s this that the goat skins are soaked in to soften them up. You will get a vantage point through a surrounding leather shop looking down on the huge stone pots that contain the dyes and leather skins left drying on the roof. Gazing around at the old low rise buildings with openings for windows it is not hard to believe very little has changed since it started in the 11th century except the occasional washing machine.
Explore Merinid Tombs – This is a fascinating area north of the medina where the ruins of the once magnificent palace and necropolis dating back to the 16th century are perched on the hillside overlooking Fez, offering a good view of the city below. Once magnificently clad in marble they have been looted by thieves over the centuries, leaving only the bare shells behind. Below the tombs are the old remains of the city’s wall dating back to the 12th century, built as a defence against marauding tribes and incorporating the leper quarters that were there at that time.
Enjoy Fondouk el-Nejjarine – This is probably the most well known building in Fez and was declared a national monument in 1916 and a World Heritage Site. Built as a stopover for trading caravans in the 18th century it currently holds a privately run Museum of Wood which has beautiful displays of the unique wood carving skills that the Moroccans are famous for. The elegant fountain and delicate arches on the interior are prime examples of the craftsmanship and love of beauty that is so typically Moroccan. The building is near to the Henna Souk area of Fes el-Bali.
Visit Musee Dar el-Batha – This museum is a few minutes walk from Bab Boujeloud and is housed in a palace built in 1873 by Moulay el-Hassan. There is a impressive tiled courtyard with a fountain and a beautiful Andalusian garden encompassing the area. You may need some time to properly take in all the displays that are spread over 12 rooms in the building. 11th century gold embossed leatherbound books, Andalusian manuscripts dating back to the 8th and examples of illuminated calligraphy will be of interest to bookworms, historians and scholars. Fine old specimens of Moroccan craftsmanship such as Berber jewellery, ceramics, embroidery and calendabras and other everyday articles used hundreds of years ago can be seen in rooms 2 to 5 of the museum. Woodwork has always been a highly esteemed craft in Morocco with exotic woods such as cedar, thuya and citron used for beautifully designed chests and furniture examples of which are on display. Zellij tilework adorns most mosques and fine buildings in the country and the display of this colourful art is not to be missed.
Discover Royal Palace – Fez’s Royal Palace and gardens are strictly closed to the public, but even from the outside they’re an impressive sight. From Place des Alaouites, take a close look at the door’s giant brass knockers, made by artisans from Fez el-Bali, as well as the imposing brass doors themselves. Inside are various palaces, 200 acres of gardens, and parade grounds, as well as a medersa founded in 1320. One of the palaces inside, Dar el-Qimma, has intricately engraved and painted ceilings. The street running along the palace’s southeast side is Rue Bou Khessissat, one side of which is lined with typically ornate residential facades from the Mellah’s edge. Note: Security in this area is high and should be respected. Guards watch visitors carefully and will warn that photographs of the palace are forbidden; cameras are sometimes confiscated.
Enjoy Amani Cookery Workshop – Fez, spiritual capital of Morocco, is also the birthplace to the most refined and diverse cuisine. So, where better to venture than to the source itself for to discover Morocco through its food? Lift the lid of an earthenware tajine and get under the surface of this fascinating country, by plunging into the souks with the chef of Palais Amani as a guide and tasting simple delicacies that are on the doorstep, experiencing hands on workshops in a meticulously restored palace in the medina and rounding off the experience with lunch or dinner in the gardens enjoying the food you have created. This is a journey with a difference, a cultural exchange that goes well beyond the list of ingredients or a visit to the tourist sights.
Things are not always what they seem and Morocco is a luxurious travel destination that has been branded in a way that doesn’t do it justice. Morocco is always billed as a destination with sand dunes as far as the eye can see and camel rides to dinners in the desert. This little corner of Northern Africa is one of our favourite places to plan in. Why? Because there’s nowhere else in the world quite like Morocco. Here are a few of our top reasons to visit:
1) Get the blues: Pink may be the navy blue of India (as Diana Vreeland, fabled former editor of Vogue, once said), but the joltingly bright Majorelle blue is most certainly the navy blue of Morocco.
2) Man, can they tan: Moroccans still make stuff. Exquisite handicrafts by the hundreds. But most of all they know how to work a piece of leather to perfection.
3) Great for a date: The blazing sun works small miracles on palm trees, delivering heaps of delicious dates.
4) Kings of courtyards: How refreshing it is to experience domestic architecture that keeps its treasures hidden. Modesty can be so magnificent.
5) They never forget a face: Moroccans have an uncanny knack for recognizing a person years after first meeting them. And they’re always keen to catch-up over a glass of mint tea.
6) Roses by the dozen: For the price of a single long-stemmed red rose at a restaurant in New York, you can buy an armful at the market in Marrakech.
7) They make mud houses: And they make them incredibly and intricately well. Play your cards right and you can stay in one of these kasbahs. Otherwise you can stay in one luxury boutique riad as Palais Amani. This latter is the biggest authentic riad in Fez home to 15 luxury suites and bedrooms. Set with its ancient walls, Palais Amani is an immaculately restored luxury riad with a panoramic roof terrace and mosaic-tiled hammam. There are shaded courtyards fragrant with jasmine and citrus, terraces in which to sip a glass of mint tea or indulge in a massage using Morocco’s famous argan oil.
8) Crazy carpets: Blocks of wild colour and irregular patterns have a way of working themselves into your heart. And often, your home.
9) A knack for theatre: Whether they’re pitching tents in the Sahara, lighting a billion candles for a dinner for two, or simply pouring tea, Moroccans know how to make the mundane marvellous.
10) Scriptly delicious: The swooshing, curving calligraphic lines of Arabic script communicate a beauty beyond words.
11) An Atlas high: Like a dragon’s spine, the majestic High Atlas mountains curl through the country from near head to toe, keeping that big blue sky propped up.
12) Markets & mazes: Virtually all of the large cities and towns have a labyrinth of streets and alleys hiding remarkable local markets. Seek out those souks and enjoy!
If all these tips are not enouth for you…to this end we have an extra invaluable asset: a video! Watch the 6:33 minutes of images by Federico Toraldo to discover a country with a thousand faces and a thousand colors, that in every day and in every place is different from himself. Enjoy!