Glass continues touring Morocco’s artisanal capital, Fez, complete with a stay at a true eden: the exclusive Palais Amani
FOLLOWING the porter uphill through a sinuous, narrow Tadelakt side street, the Palais Amani hanging sign glows golden in the streetlamp’s dim light, a cynosure in the dark night. The sign’s glow, in its bewitching majesty, does little in comparison to the romanticism of what awaits beyond the grand wooden doors of Palais Amani.
Palais Amani courtyard
The luxury riad, (a traditional Moroccan home with rooms situated around an open courtyard) is truly an idyllic escape. A concentric garden ensconces a fountain, trickling in melodic harmony with the gently chirping birds. There are orange and lemon trees, Clivia flowers in full bloom, and palms, all shading the entire space.
Zellige tiled riad of Palais Amani
Surrounding the garden is Palais Amani’s first floor of rooms, each opening its large glass doors directly onto the courtyard. Plush, hanging curtains shield the sunlight in the mornings, a time which prompts a visit to one of two sunny terraces for breakfast. The traditional breakfast offered comes in courses. The initial course is homemade Meloui flatbreads with Berber cheese, peach jam, local honey, dried fruit, butter and olive oil.
Rich, delicious, and filling – so save room. The second course is the feature, which changes daily, and is often accompanied by a fresh, seasonally relevant fruit smoothie and a coffee or mint tea, herbs plucked fresh from the terrace plants.
Daily changing breakfast offering
The terrace bar
The magic of Palais Amani — whose name means “dream palace,” in a pairing of French and Arabic — does not end with its dreamy grounds, nor its initial or daily greetings. The hotel offers services like excursions, a top choice being the Roman Ruins in nearby city Volubilis, with stop-offs at a couple of additional destination cities; Ifrane, “the Switzerland of Morocco,” which is situated in the Middle Atlas mountain range and is often snowy year round, full of ski resorts and lifts (worth a stopover to Azrou’s Beni M’Guild shop on this trip, where you can find the most beautiful, intricate Berber rugs for non-city prices); and Chefchaouen, “the blue city”, renowned for its striking cerulean cityscape.
Of course, there’s also the list of in-house experiences the riad provides, including a guided gastronomy workshop, calligraphy lessons, Henna, and the luxury spa and hammam (unique style of Turkish bath).
Lastly, there is the gastronomic offering of the Palais Amani itself: Eden, its gem of a restaurant, helmed by local chef Houssam Laassiri (who also prepares the breakfast and directs the cooking classes).
Room interior with traditional Berber rugs
Eden’s dinner menu includes a seasonal market option, prix fixe, as well as a signature dishes list. The atmosphere is warm, with Moroccan brass standing lamps flickering candlelight through their intricate carvings; the music is upbeat, alternating between western jazz and soft Arabic tunes.
Laassiri interprets local Moroccan cuisine a couple ways for his dinners; at times traditional and at times Franco-Moroccan, the menu presents local ingredients influencing his rendering of a sweet onion quiche, or a duck confit prepared with Moroccan dried fruits.
Views from the terrace
Eden, whose doors open up to the riad garden, is an excursion worth a mosey through the medina whether or not you’re staying at Palais Amani. The wine list – hard pressed to find, and one of the most extensive, within Fez’s medina – features top-tier Moroccan wines (the restaurant serves cocktails, as well) and the fragrant, exquisitely plated dishes satiate in a way the city’s street food never could. Here, indulge both your appetite and your senses.
Visit Palais Amani online for booking enquiries and more information.