“A sumptuous ocean-facing bolthole at the highest point in the kasbah - style with a big twist of romance”
The accommodation here is amongst the plushest in Tangier and has been conceived in the best riad tradition: festive, ornate and superbly comfortable. Rooms have been decorated with a big splash of Gallic savoir-faire, which marries Moroccan decorative elements with jazzy fabrics and furnishings from southern Europe and Asia.
We lucked out and spent a dreamy night in one of the pricier suites, Ocean View. The outlook across the straits to the distant Spanish coastline, framed between delicate keyhole arched windows, is what we most remember about our room: it was hard to drag ourselves away from the intimate, zellig-tiled terrace and those heart-stopping vistas.
The room's muted, mushroom colour scheme and its dark floorboards were pepped up by bright rugs, a fabulous kashmiri bedspread, an ornate wrought-iron bedstead, and a series of moody prints by Braque.
Deco lamps, bedside tables and fauteuils, and an eye-catching cedarwood and leather door added further razzmatazz to the room. This spilt over into the bathroom where dark zellig tiles in the shower, retro sinks and soft, theatrical lighting increased the mood of chic boudoir.
We also had a peek at the other suites and double room. They had the same eclectic pick-and-mix of things Moroccan with those European. The other ocean-facing suites - Le Chameau s'en Fout and La Chambre de l'Espagnol - looked just as fab as ours and were both big on space.
Vengo, the fourth suite, looked out to the courtyard and had a massive bathroom decorated in wall to ceiling red, green and black zellig tiles. It also had a small salon with a shiny banquette and a gorgeous rug from Aznart in chalky blue, pink, orange and black. However, we felt the double bed, which slots tightly between the three walls at the end of the room, could make for a claustrophobic sleeping experience.
Nilaya, the only double, uses ornate herti tenting fabric to pep up its walls and comes with a wrought iron 4-poster, a beautiful inlaid desk and wall-mounted candelabra. But given the reduced dimensions of the room and the lack of an ocean view, we'd splash out and book one of the suites.
Since our visit, Maison de Jean-Luc has been added to the portfolio. Located nearby on Riad Sultan Street, it offers 2 bedrooms and a much more independent experience.
The restaurant was still closed when we visited, so we can't pass judgement on the food itself, but the setting is beyond reproach. You can choose between eating in the grand salon marocain, in the smaller ocean-facing rooftop salon or out on the terrace. The latter should always be your first choice whenever the weather permits: the vistas are as memorable in the daytime - when your eye is drawn out to the minarets, harbour, boats and ocean - as it is at night when the lights of the city and port glitter down beneath you.
Expect your breakfast to be of the Moroccan kind: freshly squeezed orange juice, potfuls of coffee and hot milk accompanied by Moroccan breads and pancakes, homemade jams, fruit and creamy ricotta cheese.
Dinner follows a 4-course formula and, with the exception of dessert, promises to stick to the traditional cuisine of the Maghreb. Your meal will begin with some kind of amuse-bouche: little dishes of cucumber, tomato, beetroot with coriander and cumin, carrots with parsley and butter or perhaps fennel dressed in orange water or marinaded anchovies. Typical starters might be grilled fish, a pea soup or perhaps vegetable- or cheese-filled briouattes whilst main courses are the time-tried classic dishes of Morocco: a variant on the tagine theme, chicken cooked with confit lemons and olives or perhaps a couscous t'Faya. To end your meal expect the likes of a sweet almond pastilla, a fruit gazpacho or a tarte aux pommes or au citron.
Lunches can be arranged if you let staff know at breakfast: these can be adapted according to your own culinary leanings. If you're interested in Mediterranean/Moroccan fusion cuisine, enquire about the occasional cooking lessons on offer.
Oenophiles have a good choice of bottle here. As well as all the classic Moroccan whites, reds and rosés there's a small selection of French wines and two excellent champagnes: Jean Lemaire Blanc de Blanc and Laurent-Perrier Brut. Expect prices to be on a par with top restaurants in Morocco.