Riad Tizwa

Fes, Morocco Book from

A great-value sanctuary with panoramic views across the medina and delicious fassi cooking
Tizwa means 'bee' in Arabic: it takes its name from brothers Daniel and Richard Bee who loved the Fes medina so much, they were inspired to open a hotel here. So they found a grand old family house of elegant proportions, and after an inspired restoration project it has become an ode to the decorative arts of Morocco: chiselled stucco, polished tadelakt, geometric woodwork, zellig and beijmat tiling, and ornate ironmongery.

Given the wealth of detail present in the fabric of the building, when it came to furnishing the riad the Bees kept things spare: a few low tables, easy chairs and potted plants in the soaring central patio; simple bench seats in the salon; Berber rugs in a rich hue of garnet, and uncluttered bedrooms. But despite the beauty of this décor, it's not the main draw. There are other, even more appealing elements. The views of the medina from Tizwa's terrace could not be bettered, the welcome is warm and genuine, breakfasts (served any time you want) are fabulous, and the 6 enormous guest rooms come with a price tag which is way below similar ones in the medina.

Highs

  • A great location just yards from Place Batha and the souks, with covered parking close by
  • The riad is very quiet and has super-comfy beds so you'll sleep deeply
  • Excellent service: the winning combination of Merieme, Tizwa's charming manager, and chef Nadia, who conjures up fabulous Moroccan feasts
  • Great for romantics: the central courtyard looks stunning at night when scented candles are lit and rose petals strewn across floors and tables
  • Tizwa's crowning glory is its roof terrace, which takes in an amazing panoramic sweep of the medina and the Atlas mountains beyond

Lows

  • The guest sitting room felt a little dark and uninviting, although with the seating in the courtyard and big bedrooms there's no real need to use it
  • No in-room safes
  • Simple compared to some of Fes's more elaborate riads, but this is reflected in the price

Best time to go

Fes is a narcotic and life-changing place to visit at any time of the year. Tizwa's sliding roof and excellent heating system means you'd be comfortable here even if you coincided with colder weather. Most folk would find the heat of mid summer to be an ordeal so try to avoid coming in July or August.

Our top tips

Pack a guide with a map of the medina (though you should still expect to get lost), a comfortable pair of shoes, sunglasses and sunblock, an Arab phrase book with a decent section on food, an iPod if you plan to make use of your dock and maybe some photos or postcards of your home town: passing these around can be a great way of getting beyond the normal shopping talk.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Foodie
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Riad
  • 9
  • Breakfast (+ dinners on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Tizwa's 6 bedrooms are spread over 3 levels. They vary in size and configuration, but have lots of common features: ornate zellig tiles, coloured tadelakt (polished stucco) in bathrooms, garnet-coloured Berber rugs, and fabulously comfy beds dressed in crisp white English linen with feather duvets topped by sabra bedspreads.

The size of the rooms, along with subtle lighting and an absence of clutter, creates a mood that invites relaxation. Light slants in from courtyard-facing windows past the arabesques of wrought-iron grilles and half moons of stained glass, creating pools of coloured light.

All rooms have snazzy extras: a dock for your iPod, WiFi, aircon, hooded bathrobes and slippers, and a range of natural bath products. Our only quibble was that in some bathrooms there was no shelving for your toiletries.

Opposite the sitting room, Room 5 is a high-ceilinged double plenty big enough to slot in easy chairs and a table. The first-floor rooms (2 and 3) also have high cedar ceilings plus zellig tiles on walls and floor, mostly of cobalt blue. Room 2 has its bathroom on the same level, whilst that of Room 1 is reached, along with a small dressing room, by a narrow staircase which winds up another level. Rooms 7 & 8 are sold together and are ideal for a family, with two double rooms - with lower ceilings - sharing a bathroom. Next door, Room 3 is a slightly smaller double, with a shower rather than bath, whilst on the top floor Room 4 was my favourite. This room has a really private feel and double sinks set into a long sweep of marble. The icing on the cake is a private terrace; a great spot for an intimate breakfast or supper. This and Room 1 are alone in having fireplaces: book one of these rooms should you visit in winter.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

You come to expect delicious breakfasts in Morocco, and Tizwa's didn't let us down. With the sun bathing our table (there's a Berber tent for shade in the hotter months) and the medina's roofscape stretching out before us, we were in no mood to rush. A potful of coffee was accompanied by freshly squeezed orange juice, creamy homemade yoghurt served with muesli and chopped banana, pains aux chocolat, baguettes and semi-leavened Moroccan bread, along with several different jams and pancakes drizzled in honey.

And we were glad that we chose to have dinner at Tizwa: if you plan to do the same, let Merieme know at breakfast - feel free to say if you have any preferences regarding food. We emerged from our room to find dozens of candles twinkling round the courtyard and our table dressed in white linen and strewn with rose petals.

The meal began with a selection of salads: scrumptious briouattes, ricotta cheese wrapped in mille-feuilles pastry, slices of lightly spiced fried aubergine and courgette, chopped tomato and green pepper, 3 different types of olives and scrummy semi-leavened bread. This was followed by a beef, prune and almond tagine: its richly flavoured sauce was proof that it had been slow-cooked that same day. A dessert of sliced oranges sprinkled with rose water and crushed pecan nuts together with mint tea provided a traditional finale to our feast.

There's a limited selection of wine (including the ubiquitous Cuvée du Président) as well as soft drinks and bottled water. Just ask if you would prefer to dine on the roof terrace or in your own room. Lunches are available on request too, and there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance should you want a change of scene - Fes et Gestes and Cafe Fes are recommended.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Try to find your way to the Place an-Nejjarine to visit the Museum of Arts and Crafts, and one of the city's most ancient funduqs. Tizwa has some trusted guides if you'd prefer company

  • Cut through the medina to Bab Bou Jeloud or the Place As Seffarine and people-watch over mint tea from one of their many cafés

  • Visit the tanneries to remind yourself that in some ways Fes has changed little in hundreds of years

  • Take a day trip to Meknes and Volubilis, home to some of the world's best preserved Roman mosaics

  • Seek out the delightful café Fes et Gestes and treat yourself to a leisurely lunch in its quiet garden

  • Shop 'til you drop: with patience and a sense of humour you're in a win-win situation when bargaining for handicrafts in the souks

  • Experience the delights of a hammam: it's also a great way of meeting locals

  • Jump in a petit taxi and head for the Fes El-Jdid neighbourhood. Don't miss the Jewish Cemetery and the Habarim synagogue

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being

Kids

Children are welcome and extra beds can be added to most rooms, but there are no baby cots.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Rooms 7&8 would be an ideal choice for a family

Babysitting:

By arrangement

Children's meals:

Menus can be adapted to suit children

Kids Activities nearby:

Exploring the souks would be an amazing experience for any kid although it might feel a wee bit intimidating at first.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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