Riad Laaroussa

Fes, Morocco Book from DH1,200

An opulent riad at the heart of the Medina where guests can learn the secrets of traditional Fassi cookery
You arrive at Laaroussa via the narrowest of alleyways, past donkeys, street vendors, laughing children and stray cats. After pushing aside an ancient wooden door and following a covered passageway, you emerge into a patio of such lofty grandeur that you can only gasp in wonder. This was once the inner sanctum of the annexe to the Mnebhi palace: it later became a Koranic school before being acquired by the Larussa family from Italy, only to be abandoned and forgotten.

In the latest chapter of the riad's fascinating history, 2 entrepreneurial French partners rescued the building and rebirthed it as one of the city's most sumptuous hostelries, after an inspired restoration project using the city's finest artisans. Fountains, columns, keyhole arches and ornate tile and woodwork conjure up visions that feel plucked from the pages of 1001 Nights. Bedrooms are regal in size and furnishings, there's an amazing hammam, and the remarkable team of chefs will let you help out in their kitchen during your stay at this unique Fassi hideaway.

Highs

  • You're at the heart of the action, in between Bab Bou Jeloud and the Kairouine Mosque
  • The hammam is one of the city's best, with a great team of masseurs and therapists
  • Oodles of exotic and sensual charm, and perfect for a romantic break
  • You're encouraged to venture into the kitchen, get to know the staff, and learn the secrets of Fassi cuisine

Lows

  • Some of the contemporary art might not be to everyone's taste but, then again, what art would be?
  • The laid back atmosphere won't suit those seeking luxurious levels of service
  • Laaroussa isn't cheap by Moroccan standards but is good value when compared with places back home - and the price includes an excellent breakfast

Best time to go

You'll stay warm or cool at any time of year at Laaroussa 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. We visited in the low season and enjoyed the more laid-back vibe in the city.

Our top tips

Hire a grand taxi for the day and head out to Meknes and Volubilis, archaeological Roman ruins.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Riad Hotel
  • 8
  • Breakfast (+ other meals by arrangement)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Courtyard
Room: Yellow Room

Rooms

There are 4 suites - Green, Orange, Grey and Cream - and 4 double rooms - Red, Blue, Yellow and Little Brown (best for single use). Each room's name reflects the bathroom's polished tadlakt tiles. All bedrooms are high-ceilinged and many preserve their original zellig floors and cedarwood ceilings and doors.

The bedroom's ornate base elements - floors, ceilings and doors - are complemented by silk curtains, sabra bedspreads, intricately carved wardrobes and eye-catching objets like huge brass pots, funky lamps made from fish traps and deco-ish chairs and tables (many from Indonesia). Lanterns, appliqués and bedside lamps up the wow factor whilst the rooms' hot and cold air units ensure you'll be comfortable all year round.

On the ground floor, the vast Green Suite has 6m-high ceilings and enough space for queensize double and a single bed. Across the way, the cavernous Orange Suite has soaring ceilings and a mezzanine level with 2 single beds accessed via a wrought-iron staircase. These are in addition to the main queensized double. A floor of buff-coloured beijmat has replaced the original tiles; a corner fireplace is rendered in stucco. The bathroom is a flight of fantasy with lacquered vine stems dropping down from the ceiling to wrap around an oval-shaped tadlakt bathtub. You're also treated to twin hammered-metal basins and mirrors.

Other rooms are up on the first floor. The Grey Suite is accessed via a narrow staircase and has grey tadlakt columns supporting its high ceiling. There’s a fireplace as well as a dark metal bedroom suite and a swanky bathroom has twin porcelain sinks and a huge tadlakt tub.

The Yellow Rooms give onto a cosy salon and can be linked to the Grey Suite - great if you're staying as part of a larger group. The Yellow Room has a kingsize double bed with a gold sabra bedspread and matching cushions and curtains. This room is considerably smaller than the suites but it does have a small dressing room next to its shower room.

The Cream Suite has a kingsize baldequin bed plus a second double reached via a steep metal ladder (certainly not toddler friendly). There’s a corner fireplace, a triple set of courtyard-facing windows and a fab bathroom with twin surface-top sinks and a ceramic tub.

The Red Room was a favourite with its kingsize double (can convert in twin beds) and an open-plan bathroom. Here the tadlakt has been replaced by wafer bricking, the bathtub by a shower and twin copper pots serve as sinks. The Blue Room is large enough for a queensize bed, an extra bed and a metal writing desk looking out to the courtyard.

In all bathrooms you'll find monogrammed black and gold babouches and bathrobes, scented candles, a stack of fluffy white towels and flannels as well as full range of Senses de Marrakech bathroom goodies presented in chunky, silver-topped glass vials.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Laaroussa's huge sitting room-cum-dining room provides a perfect setting for a romantic meal-for-two. Its massively high walls are hung with big canvasses of splashy contemporary art and a collection of black and white photographs that tell the story of the riad's rehab' a couple of years back.

You eat at small metal-topped tables which are only just big enough to allow for comfortable dining. We had an excellent dinner and only regretted that we hadn't made time to slip along to the kitchen to see what went into the creation of our meal. It began, after nibbles of olives and cashews, with a selection of hot and cold salades marocains (the lightly spiced aubergine was particularly scrummy) followed by a rich almond, apricot and chicken tagine whose depth of flavour was the proof of its slow-cooking. A tarte aux poires ended the meal on a Gallic note and we enjoyed our chosen red wine, which came from close to Meknes: there were plenty of other bottles to choose amongst. And, in proper Fassi style, we then slumped into a sofa next to the fire for mint tea and chebbakia briwattes, the little honey-sweetened cakes that are ubiquitous in Fes.

Breakfast is a moveable feast: you choose between eating in the dining room, the courtyard, in your room or up on the roof terrace. The latter would always be my favoured option: the wraparound views of the medina are unforgettable. Expect a traditional Moroccan breakfast of orange juice, malaoui pancakes, semi-leavened bread as well as French-style baguette, a fresh fruit salad and several different jams and honey.

If we were to return to Laaroussa we'd jump at the opportunity of helping out in the kitchen. You can even join Samira and Sabah, the riad's delightful cooks, on their forays in search of fresh ingredients in the medina.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Head for the kitchen for lessons in the preparation of traditional Moroccan cuisine

  • Step straight out of the riad into the souk - the ultimate shopping experience. You'll find gorgeous pottery, leather goods and furnishings; be prepared to haggle

  • Experience the delights of a savon noir scrub followed by an essential oils massage in the riad's fabulous hammam

  • Chill out with your novel up on the roof terrace listening to the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer

  • Accompany one of Riad L's trusted guides through the medina to visit the tanneries, the Kairouine Mosque (though only from the outside), the medersas and the most interesting parts of the souk

  • Take a break from the bustle in the Bou Jeloud gardens or chill out with a mint tea at the nearby Clock Café

  • Visit the Merenid Tombs then have a sundowner on the terrace of the Hôtel des Merinides

  • Buy your own riad! Laaroussa's French partners also run a real estate company and have medina houses for sale

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

The ethic at Laaroussa is resolutely pro-children and there can be little doubt that any vaguely adventurous child would have a ball in the souks.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Yellow and Grey Room can interconnect, while the Orange and Cream Suites have an extra bed on a mezzanine. Most rooms can hold baby cots.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Special meals are available for kids.

Kid Friendly:

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