Fez travel guide | House & Garden

Hotel: Palais Amani

Situated just inside Fes el Bali - the ninth-century medina - this charming, friendly riad has at its heart an open courtyard, paved with typical Fez tiles and planted with trees and flowers to provide a tranquil haven. Typical Moroccan meals can be enjoyed here with only the sounds of a trickling fountain and birdsong intruding. Although it dates back to the seventeenth century, the riad was rebuilt in the Twenties, giving it a faintly art deco feel. Of the 15 rooms, nine are suites - the most luxuriously elegant is number 12, with its stained-glass windows directly overlooking the courtyard. But for stork-spotting and coffee with views across the rooftops from your private terrace, M2 is the suite of choice. Do not miss the candle-lit hammam experience or the cookery class, which begins with a chef-led trip through the heady sights and smells of the bazaar. Rooms from €237, palaisamani.com.

Restaurants: L'Ambre and Café Clock

At glamorous Riad Fès, have a margarita at the rooftop bar for 360-degree views of the city, before dinner at the hotel's exceptional L'Ambre restaurant. Excellent international and Moroccan cuisine are on offer here, in a cool, chic setting - try the pastilla with quail and the signature roasted lamb with onion jam and caramelised carrots. But there is more to food than fine dining. Down one of the medina's 9,000-plus alleys, you will find Café Clock, perfect for a break from shopping. An institution among locals, expats and tourists, it is a must for its refreshing home made mint lemonade and vibrant atmosphere. Its speciality is a surprisingly delicious camel burger and the avocado smoothies are highly recommended.

Fez is artisan central and shopping heaven - from the exquisite lighting and Berber carpets to leather goods and foodstuffs. El Haj Ali Baba, overlooking the tanneries, has some of the finest leather jackets, which can be tailor-made in three hours, while the Qaisariya Souk is known for its babouche slippers. For traditional ceramics, head to Serghini Maître Potier, in the Quartier de Poterie, which offers a mix of antique, new and bespoke pieces. Here you can watch artisans throwing and painting pots or chiselling mosaic tiles. Coin Berbère sells quality antiques and curios - from Berber jewellery to carpets - and an entire afternoon can be spent in the carpet emporium Palais du Trésor. Visit L'Art Traditionnel for classic and contemporary brass lamps. All are to be found in the medina. Those with a sweet tooth should head to the Ville Nouvelle, where bakery La Villa makes the best cornes de gazelles (marzipan pastries) in town.

Don't Miss

Early in the morning - before the crowds - is the time to visit the thirteenth-century Chouara tannery. Some 1,000 people work here, transforming the rough, hairy skins of camels, goats, sheep and cows into the finest leather. The huge pits of natural colourants can be viewed from above, as if peering onto a giant box of watercolours, and you will be offered a sprig of mint to mask the strong unpleasant smell. Following this, go to see the copper beaters of Place Seffarine, where tin lined copper kitchenware is hammered out around an ancient tree - a noisy yet atmospheric experience. Also not to be missed is the Karaouine Mosque - dating from 859 AD, the oldest, still functioning university in the world. Although non Muslims may not enter (a throwback to French colonial law), you can peek in through the gates as worshippers assemble five times daily. The roof terrace of the Palais du Trésor (see Shopping) affords a great bird's-eye view of the complex.

Ways and Means

Teresa Levonian Cole visited Fez as a guest of Cox & Kings (020-3642 0861; coxandkings.co.uk), which offers a three-night stay at the Palais Amani, from £575 per person, B&B, including Ryanair flights from Stansted and transfers.