Fes is not short on romantic riads, but Dar Seffarine, with billowing curtains, the scent of rose water and the cool touch of marble, is the ultimate Arabian Nights-esque riad.
Waking up here, with its 700 years of history, is akin to waking in the Alhambra, and it's the best bang for your buck anywhere.
Painstakingly restored by a Norwegian interior designer and Iraqi architect - see the restoration book - the interior is chic minimalist with spectacular soaring pillars and floors of zellij (mosaic tiles). Plus, the roof terrace is Fes' best. From $115 a double a night, including breakfast. See darseffarine.com.
FOR: OVERSEAS GATHERINGS
Riad Idrissy boasts a medina rarity - a garden. The Ruined Garden is an exotic oasis, complete with banana trees, floating muslin-curtained pavilions and romantic ruins.
This space is perfect in the cramped medina for gathering the gang to celebrate milestone events. The riad is packed with African-sourced curios and run by renowned English chef Robert Johnstone, who grows his herbs on site, makes a mean gin and tonic and exudes never-ending hospitality.
His outdoor cooking school starts next year. Staying elsewhere? Catch outdoor Sunday brunch. From $160, including breakfast. See riadidrissy.com.
When it comes to satisfying taste buds, this riad, perched on a hill overlooking the medina, is the destination restaurant of Fes.
Aussie riad hostess Vanessa joined forces with her French chef partner, Vincent Bonnin (trained in Michelin-star restaurants), to run the five-room riad. The result? Dishes such as spiced roasted quail with dried fruit orzo and a leather goods shop featuring Italian label Alfred (sold more expensively in Paris and Rome).
Note: ground-floor rooms open directly to the courtyard restaurant, which is not everyone's cup of mint tea. From $150 a double a night, including breakfast. See darroumana.com.
RIAD MAISON BLEUE
FOR: WESTERN-STYLE LUXE
You'll pay top dollar for this big riad with the big reputation, but what you receive is a 16-room amalgamation of three riads complete with Andalusian-style courtyard, dining area, in-house spa/hamman, chic bar (the Blue Lounge) and pool.
Some seek those endearing quirks of antiquated riads that scream "Morocco", but if after bath tubs, four-poster beds, TVs and waiters delivering cookies while you read (unbidden), then this is the place to lay your head on a feathered pillow. From $290 a double, including breakfast. See maisonbleue.com.
DAR EL MENIA
FOR: TAPPING INTO THE CULTURE
Sometimes a person makes a place. In this case, it's Jamaal Chaaouane, riad host. Embedded in the fabric of Fes, he conjures an in-house cooking class at the drop of a hat, organises guides, and will likely invite you to watch his band play at hot spot The Clock.
The riad is alluring: a winding, dark alley off a main street leads to a simple wooden door, which opens to reveal a courtyard atrium with five rooms. Reasonably priced, with an easy location. From $97 a night for two, including breakfast. See medinafes.com.
FOR: HOUSE PARTIES
Why rent a riad room when you can rent the whole shebang? A few riads will hand over the keys, lock, stock and barrel, and throw in a cook for good measure.
Dar Sugar is the pick, with oodles of space and large rooms. It has two double bedrooms, two twin bedrooms (with en suites), and a single rooftop room (with airconditioning).
The terrace has medina views and that blessed modern convenience for any travelling caravan - Wi-Fi. From $359 a night. See moroccoholidayhome.co.uk.
- Sydney Morning Herald