“Hippy living meets designer hotel: a unique combination, and a bargain in the heart of Fes's medina”
There are 7 bedrooms spread over 2 double-height storeys and a mezzanine; connecting doors provide secret passages to the various staircases. All have small ensuite bathrooms and the 2 suites (Anneka and Kobbe) are much larger and more opulent - but still excellent value. You won't find many frills of the modern kind (except WiFi in communal areas), but plenty of original 14th-century ones, including hand-painted chests, mosaic-tiled floors and antique wardrobes which match the fabric of the house to a tee.
All rooms have double beds, though friends travelling together should opt for the Tutta Room, Blain Room or Josephine Room all of which can be made up as twins. Low beds have excellent mattresses and plump pillows, from where you peep across through curly-grilled windows into the communal courtyard, or out to the tanneries of the Andalous quarter.
We stayed in the fabulous Kobbe Suite. It has beautiful tiled floors, ornate wooden furniture and the crowning glory is a painted domed ceiling, which Alaa only discovered as he stripped off newer layers of colour.
There are enough comforts to ensure you sleep and wash well: air-conditioning in summer, gas / electric heaters in winter, plus tadlakt handbasins, decent showers with reliable hot water. All in all, it's a very pleasing blend of Fassi opulence and modern restraint.
A communal breakfast is served on the terrace from 8.30am until the conversation runs out, with fresh juice, 3 breads, homemade jams (maybe apricot, apple, orange), eggs (fried or omelette), fried tomatoes, and cheese (if you're lucky you might get Norwegian goats cheese).
You can also join Kate and Alaa for dinner, sharing whatever they have cooked with whoever else is around. There is no choice of menu, but everything is delicious and it's excellent value. We enjoyed a feast of breads, salads, soup, a huge communal lamb tagine and fruit for pudding. Vegetarians can be catered for with advance warning. You can bring your own alcohol or buy wine or beer; there's fridge space for storing cold water bottles, and mint tea is on the house.
Most people eat out some of the time - often hooking up with other guests - and there's no shortage of nosh on offer within walking distance, from simple stalls selling sweet and savoury pastries to the top-notch feasts offered by Maison Bleue. Kate and Alaa are happy to advise.