I found an oasis at Dar Seffarine, located in a quiet medina neighborhood and hosted by locals.
Upon arrival, Zuhair, who had grown up next door, led me to one of the graceful salons surrounding the interior courtyard and offered water and tea. I then toured the dar's roof-top terrace with its splendid views and comfortable couches; patio dining room with fragrant citrus trees; and on to my spacious, quiet, and enchanting room. Thick white walls set off dark and intricately carved wood beams and colorful tiles. Soft white linens and bedside brass lamps beckoned, the faint sounds of neighbors chatting amiably, occasional clip-clop of little donkey hooves on the way to market, a chicken cackle--daily life--just outside.
Wonderful breakfasts of good coffee, fresh orange juice, and homemade breads, eggs, cheeses, fruits, and jams were served on the roof terrace. Evenings I shared delicious patio dinners with fellow guests: fragrant chicken tagines, fried eggplant, fresh fruit and vegetable salads, rich tasting couscous, peaches in lemon and rose flavored syrup, prepared by Zuhair's mom.
Daytime, I followed my whims and the advice of the staff, all locals, for shopping, museums, and cafes.
Before tucking in at night, I would climb the tiled-covered stairs to the terrace for a view of the medieval cityscape with lit up windows like an opera set, look up at the bright stars, and listen to the haunting prayers from the nearby mosque, feeling I was truly in a magical land.
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Stay at a Beautiful Riad in the Medina
Named for Fes's nearby Seffarine Square where metalsmiths work, Dar Seffarine's beautiful, restful interior is the perfect respite from the bustling medina. It has been stunningly restored, and its zelij tiled floors and intricately painted doors are works of art.