Navigating Fes El Bali with Riad Anata
Our 3 weeks in Morocco started and ended in Fez. Fez is a north-eastern Moroccan city often referred to as the country’s cultural capital. It’s one of the 4 Moroccan imperial cities, a UNESCO world’s heritage site and has the world’s largest medina (Fes El Bali).
Well, our first experience of the medina occurred in the dark at midnight.
It was just our luck that our evening flight was delayed by an hour or two. After another hour of getting through passport control, we finally picked up our bags, which were, of course, the last to appear on the conveyor belt, it’s safe to say: at this point it was getting late.
We found some people who looked as clueless as us, to share a taxi with to the medina, which is roughly 17.5km away (30-minute drive) from the airport. After quickly agreeing on a price of 200DH (£16), we hopped into the beat up taxi and made our way, very staggeringly, to the medina. I say staggeringly because the driver had a habit of not always using the steering wheel the whole time.
We arrived in the middle of the medina at 1am and wandered around the maze with our useless Google maps. The Fez El Bali is known to cause problems to first-time visitors, especially when navigating around the alleys. Google maps is practically useless for us travellers because most streets are unnamed or not displayed on the map. Therefore, if it’s your first time visiting, try to arrive during the day so you have plenty of hours of sunlight, or even better, it’d be wise to ask the hotel staff to meet you.
After endless corners, a few stray dogs, even more stray cats and two self-proclaimed guides, we found ourselves at our hotel. Only to find that our room had been given away. After 30 more minutes and a new guide, we finally found a place that would accept two exhausted travellers at 2 in the morning.
This was one way to start our trip in Morocco & a good story to tell. From that point on, our time in Fez thoroughly improved because Riad Anata opened their doors to us the next day. Created and owned by Valerie Janczewski, Riad Anata is an elegant, cosy, contemporary oasis in the heart of the medina. Restored by interior designer, Audrey Vermeersch, Riad Anata has a very simplistic and monotonous exterior, yet holds a well designed, clean-cut interior, which encompasses a fine mix between modern and traditional Morocco and caters to both travel and culture.
After a lovely conversation with Valerie over a cup of mint tea, it was clear that Riad Anata is used as a hub for travel enthusiasts and creatives in Fez. With only 5 rooms, a well-supplied library and a roof terrace overhanging the medina, it was the perfect getaway from the fast and furious Fes El Bali.
The bedrooms are spacious, bright and adorned in pastel colours with Moroccan details. The beds are big with soft sheets and there are 3 large windows looking out towards the centre of the Riad, with shutters and thick curtains to keep out the morning light! There’s a floor to ceiling mirror for endless posing, a large bathroom and a confined working space. Not to mention plenty of wardrobe space!
We thoroughly recommend Riad Anata. It is well designed, comfortable, has great food and is in a great location!
Derb El Hamia, 16b, 30200 – Fez, Morocco
+ 212 (0)535 74 15 37