Dar Seffarine

Fes, Morocco Book from Book from £66 per night

Hippy living meets designer hotel: a unique combination, and a bargain in the heart of Fes's medina
Dar Seffarine is a one-off: a beautifully renovated dar which combines impeccable design with lazy, laid-back living - and unbeatable prices. But it's not for everyone. If you don't mind leaving your bedroom doors open, dining with the other guests and having your mint tea served by the lad from next door, then read on.

Alaa and Kate have resurrected this 600-year-old house with their own hands, lots of love and plenty of patience. He's an architect from Iraq, she's a graphic designer from Norway, and the result is a highly original blend of Moorish monumentalism and Scandinavian minimalism. Think soaring square columns, 18-foot carved cedar doors and zellij-tiled floors set against blank white walls.

And it’s definitely a home rather than a hotel. The central courtyard and the roof terrace are the focus of communal life, and you’ll feel as if you're among friends - or people who are soon to become your friends. It’s a mecca for young, open-minded travellers who like to share beers, smokes and travel stories on the stunning roof terrace before retiring to a palatial but pared-down bedroom; and who want to experience the real Fes in all its gritty, colourful, noisy splendour. It's the kind of place you could easily book for a night and end up staying a week, or even a month if you're not careful.

Highs

  • The stunning bedrooms have high ceilings, intricate tilework, painted wooden doors and ornate furniture
  • The warm, generous hospitality from the owners goes far beyond that of any professional hotelier
  • We enjoyed an excellent home-cooked dinner during our 2012 revisit, and guests consistently rave about the food here
  • The level of quality is excellent for the price (a sentiment which most other guests agreed on)
  • The roof terrace is the real high point here (excuse the pun) - the views alone make this an excellent place to stay

Lows

  • There are lots of steep, narrow steps here
  • It's very laid-back (as you will have gathered) and the communal atmosphere may not be for everyone
  • Not many mod cons: don't expect in-room WiFi (though it is available in the communal areas)
  • Not for young kids - besides anything else, there are low parapets around the terrace

Best time to go

Fes is a year-round destination, but you may prefer to avoid mid-summer when temperatures can rocket and the hassle of the souks can seem that much more of an ordeal. The city has a more laid-back vibe in the low season.

Our top tips

Don't miss evenings on the roof terrace; the view of the medina is absolutely breathtaking. You're situated at the bottom of a gently curving bowl, so the city wraps itself around you, creating an utterly mesmerising view - pictures will never do it justice. Watching the city change colour as the sun set, with the call to prayer humming around us, was a real moment to remember for us.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
  • Riad Hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast (+ dinner on request)
  • Children over 12 are welcome
  • Closed: 24 Jun 2017 - 27 Jun 2017
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Kobbe Suite

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Fes's vast and bustling medina is on your doorstep, so you can browse and barter to your heart's content

  • You're a few paces from Seffarine square, where the copper craftsmen work next to a vast university library; and only a few more from the colourful (but smelly) Andalous tanneries, the clothes-dying quarters

  • The Kairouine mosque is nearby (open to Muslims only), as are various ornate medersas (seminaries), including the much-visited Attarine

  • The main souk starts just behind the Kairouine mosque, 5 minutes' walk away

  • Kate and Alaa can put you in touch with good local guides who take you to their favourite hidden palaces, rather than the shops which pay them the most baksheesh. In our experience a guide is well worth the cost, especially for your first day, and even more so if you can hook up with a couple more people and share costs

  • If you want to venture outside the city ask Kate and Alaa about trips into the Middle Atlas, the Roman ruins of Volubilis, the town of Meknes and the spa of Moulay Yacoub

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Children over 12 are welcome at Dar Seffarine. It's not suitable for younger children as there are low parapets around the terrace. Annika, Blain and Mezzanine all have space for an extra bed.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 8 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

This property is gorgeous and the atmosphere is sublime. Delicious food, served family style, exquisite large rooms and excellent service all join together to create a divine atmosphere that's unlike anything I've ever experienced in my years of traveling. I am so glad I decided to stay here and hope to return some day.

10/10,

Beautiful decoration, nice terrace and friendly staff.

9/10,

The Riad is at the end of an alley but when you open the door it is simply amazing. The staff are wonderful and the hotel décor is stunning. Excellent.

10/10,

We can only join the chorus of those praising Dar Seffarine. We enjoyed a most memorable 3 nights stay at Kobbe Suite and there was absolutely nothing to complain about. The food (both breakfast and dinner) was the best we had during our 2 weeks trip (Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Fes).

10/10,

Alaa and Kate were the perfect hosts in the homely atmosphere, in what must be the most beautiful and lovingly restored Dar in Fes.

10/10,

Dar Seffarine is a jem in the amazing medina of Fes. We had the Anneka Suite for three nights..beautiful. Having dinner with all the other guests is a real experience, and the food is so good. The best dinners we had from our entire trip in Morocco. All the staff are very kind, Mohammed is very funny and helpful with everything you need. We booked a trip to Volubilis and Meknes the day before, and all was perfect. The strength of Dar Seffarine is of course the beauty of the Dar, but above all the people who work there. For me this is one of the best places I have ever been. Thank You.

10/10,

Dar Seffarine is simply the most stunning accommodations I could have ever imagined staying in. If you care a lot about aesthetics and want to experience a renovated riad in all its glory as well as comfort, stay here - you will be getting the height of the riad experience in Fez. The online pictures, even the most professional of them, hardly capture the architectural splendor and the impeccable taste that has gone into its renovation and furnishings, never mind the ambience which is soothingly hushed without being formal. There is nothing kitschy or gaudy about the artistic taste that governed the renovation of this centuries-old elite home. Part of its allure is how spotlessly clean and comfortable it is, with large comfortable (not too hard not too soft) beds, excellent quality linens, gorgeously tiled bathrooms. Even the riad's kitchen is a study in tasteful elegance, neatness and cleanliness. Yet it also has a sparseness lending it a modern air throughout and affords all the modern conveniences of wifi and air conditioning. We stayed there four nights and the whole riad, day and night, is incredibly quiet and calming. (Perhaps because the rooms are all open to a communal space, it seems the guests are aware of the need for soft-spokenness, or maybe it was just the hushed awe we were all enveloped by in our admiration for the aesthetic?) The Kobe suite is museum-level sumptuous (in fact, no renovated museum or even mosque we saw in Fez held a candle to its grandeur) but even the smallest rooms (we stayed in two different rooms, both on the upper floors, during our visit) are quite grand while also exceedingly romantic. The roof terrace is dazzling with posh seating and provides a 360 degree view over Fez. The staff, Zouhir and Mohammed, are more than friendly - they were charming, kind, well-informed, and attentive to our every need and have excellent language skills. Breakfast was sumptuous, dinner was the tastiest we had while in Fez. An added bonus is that this riad is very easy to find in the Medina because it is both close to a major gate (Bab R’cif is no more than a 4-5 minute walk from the hotel) and because it is immediately off one of the small plazas which bears the same name as the riad (Place de Seffarine). Of course, not everyone is looking for the same things in a hotel. And I would not recommend this place to the very elderly (who find steps daunting) or families with small children. But for all the rest of us - WOW. This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience that should not be missed. In large part because of Dar Seffarine, I will treasure this visit to Fez always.

10/10,

Great place to stay: beautifully renovated and Alain and staff make you feel welcome and at home.

10/10,

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Rates for Dar Seffarine