It was obvious from our first emails that Valérie, owner of Riad Anata, and I had a connection. Often, these virtual conversations are a good indication of whether we are like-minded…In other words, whether this is indeed a potential Local Hideaway or not. When Valérie sent me a travel guide that she put together, with all her personal tips for Fez, I was even more sure….What a cool guide! Therefore, I couldn’t wait to visit her dream come true – a house in the medina of Fez. Unfortunately, when I was visiting, Valérie was abroad, so I couldn’t meet with her personally. However, simply by staying at Riad Anata and through the people working there I was able to get to know Valérie a little after all, and my first impression was confirmed: like-minded indeed!
Hidden in the maze of small alleys – the medina (old city) of Fez, is a beautifully restored traditional house. This is where Valérie, together with interior designer Audrey Vermeersch, created her ‘home away from home’: a small guesthouse with only five rooms: The White Room, The Red Room, The Green Room, The Orange Room and The Azure Room. All five rooms are similar and decorated very tastefully in the colour of their name. Small heaters provide a comfortable warmth during the winter months. In the summer, its thick walls keep the house nice and cool and if this doesn’t suffice, there is also air conditioning. The Green Room offers a beautiful tadelakt (Moroccan plaster) bath, the others come with a lovely shower. I was immediately fond of the ‘savon noir’ provided in the bathroom; it smelled of eucalyptus and made me want to shower with it every day!
The central patio on the ground floor is where everyone comes together and, when it’s too chilly to sit outside, this is where breakfast or dinner are served. It is cosy and tastefully decorated, with a large corner sofa and all kinds of books, travel guides, and souvenirs brought home by Valérie from her travels (and some giving away her roots: Janssen & Janssen bookends, from the Belgian comic Tintin). An even better place to lazy about , have breakfast, dinner or a drink is the spectacular roof terrace with wonderful panoramic view of the old city. Unfortunately, the weather doesn’t allow me to crash here, maybe next time! Breakfast is lovely and fresh, providing substance for an active day.
The employees are the ones who truly give Riad Anata that ultimate ‘home away from home’ feel. They are very helpful and attentive, hospitality in the truest sense of the word. Take Samira, for instance, who spoils you with her wonderful cooking skills; or Simo, the perfect receptionist, who knows the city like the back of his hand and will book your activities and restaurants in no time; then there is Farida, who takes care that your room is clean again upon your return from a day of wandering around Fez; and, last but not least, Mustafa, eager to learn and super friendly, who is present during the evenings to make sure everything goes smoothly. These people give Riad Anata a personal touch and go out of their way to make your stay as comfortable and pleasant as possible….great!
Riad Anata is situated very conveniently in the medina, and, with Valérie’s guide in hand, I advise you to go out and explore the city. Or you can book a private guide, as I did, to show you around. Because the old medina is such a large maze that you might get lost without a guide telling you where to go . You can also refer to Valérie’s book for some great tips for excursions to places just outside Fez or for her favourite wellness addresses; a perfect end to a day of hustling & bustling around the city. After which, you can enjoy a glass of lovely Moroccan wine on the roof terrace while watching the sun set over Fez….I can see why Valérie chose this particular spot to settle down in!
Photo credits #1-2-3-4-6-8-9-10-11-13-14: Mireille Roobaert