I was very excited about visiting Fez for Local Hideaways, because, as you may know, I’m extremely fond of Morocco – nothing quite compares to the smells/sounds and diversity of this country. And once again, I wasn’t disappointed, for Fez’s ancient city centre is one of a kind and is sure to offer you a wonderful experience; it’s like stepping into a time machine and being transported back to the Arabian Middle Ages. In order to present as varied an offering of Hideaways in this city as possible, I first went to Hotel Sahrai, that opened November 2014. The reason I came here first was that it offers the best of both worlds; space and tranquillity, because it is located just outside the busy city, while at the same time being only ten minutes away from the maze-like old Medina. Hotel Sahrai is situated on a very special (historically strategic) location, and literally looks out on the crossroads of the old and the new city: a spectacular view…especially when night falls and the city lights reflect in the lanterns and hotel lights.
Upon entering, the first thing I notice is the building’s wonderful architecture – designed by Christophe Pillet. It is transparent and light and, besides being spacious and quiet, breathes a cosmopolitan atmosphere. But the fact that you are in Fez shows in all the little details: the impressive carved plaster on the walls, the lovely Zellige tiles; Fassi ceramics and copper lanterns, that, even though they were given a more modern look, were actually made by local craftsmen. After all, Fez is a city of craftsmen and the people from Fez are proud that their handmade products are sold all over the world….even in Dubai. Another wonderful example are the arches on the façade of the building: these are exact replicas of the ones on French Marshall Lyautey’s summer palace, that stood here in the days of the French protectorate.
Not only Guillaume, the General Manager, extends me a very warm welcome, but so does the friendly and helpful, overall Moroccan, staff. They make a great effort to please you and win you over with their natural charm.
I’m staying in a Deluxe room, which has a spectacular view of the city and the swimming pool below (in all, the hotel has 50 rooms in four categories). The room is spacious and the remarkable wall with delicate plasterwork and the large open plan bathroom with sunken marble bath and glass partitions are true eye catchers. (Curtains are provided, should you prefer some privacy during your bath or shower ;-)) It is comfortable and luxurious here, with lovely Acqua di Parma bath amenities and a Nespresso machine, a platter of Moroccan delicacies and a perfect bed.
By now, night has fallen and it is time to discover the rest of the hotel….or in particular the rooftop bar :-). The weather isn’t great, so I can’t sit outside (which you should definitely do when the weather’s nice, for the panoramic view is, as at many hotels, stunning here). But there is a tasteful and trendy bar inside as well, with large round sitting areas, warm light that is reflected on the extraordinary ceiling and in the background the sound of hip lounge music. This venue isn’t only popular with the tourists but also with expats and locals. After a pre-dinner drink, I can have dinner either at Relais de Paris – a French Brasserie or at Amaraz –Moroccan cuisine. I decide to go the latter and am treated to a wonderful array of traditional dishes , all prepared according to old Fassi recipes and accompanied by some lovely Moroccan wines.
The next morning I have a quiet day ahead of me. I’m not due in the old city before the end of the afternoon and therefore I have plenty of time to enjoy the facilities of Hotel Sahrai. Unfortunately, the weather gods aren’t on my side, which means I can’t sit in the sun or dive into the spectacular pool…..it is even too wet for a game of tennis! But not to worry, the Hotel Sahrai has one of the most exclusive spas in the world: The Givenchy Spa. This French brand is highly selective when it comes to choosing suitable locations for its Spas and only four hotels in the world have one. This is pure endulgement…..after more than ninety minutes my skin is as soft as a baby’s and I am floating!
And then the afternoon comes to an end and it is time for me to throw myself into the busy Medina of Fez….I am completely ready and fully recharged after my stay at this wonderful Hideaway…..I must definitely stay longer next time!