‘Relax, reboot, revive!’
When I say travel what springs to mind for you? Fantastic food, meeting new people, instagrammable sunsets? Well, Morocco ticks all those boxes…and more! That’s why this country often tops my list of holiday destinations. As the gateway to Africa, yet just under three hours from London, experiencing this dizzingly diverse culture is the perfect way to rewire the brain, boost the mood and thrill the senses.
It’s also the perfect spot for those seeking some winter sun. If you do venture there, why not forgo the usual hot spots and head for Fez. Yes, Marrakech may peddle glitz, glamour and 1001 night fantasies, but Fez is the real deal! Take the time to get to know this cultured city and it will reveal many secrets, including faded palaces and the oldest university in the world.
The most delicious desination in Fez is currently Palais Amani. This chic boutique hotel is nestled alongside the UNESCO World Heritage Medina and thanks to a rebuild in the 1930’s it has a distinctly fresh Art Deco edge. Recent renovations make it the perfect combination of ancient and modern, and each of the 15 chic and spacious suites and has either a garden or Medina view.
Food lovers will find plenty to relish at its restaurant Eden. It serves a variety of traditional Moroccan dishes. which are created from fresh local produce. The tasty and satisfying plates of tagine, couscous and colourful salad, are often enjoyed in the shade of ancient trees in the garden. At Palais Amani traditional Moroccan breakfasts are in fact other worldly banquets with yogurt, jams, cheeses, juices, and fresh baked Moroccan bread. Serene and peaceful affairs, they are the perfect start to any travellers day.
Whilst relaxation is always key, the hotel also offers five experience breaks which range from bookbinding and calligraphy to guided tours and photography. Each of these potential activities will invite you to broaden your horizons, but the ‘The Fez Cooking School’ will undoubtedly be the highlight of your stay. In a country famous for its great food and spices, nothing beats the opportunity of learning how to prepare its signature dishes in order to cook them at home. The experience starts with a visit to a Moroccan market in the Medina, to source ingredients, once back at the hotel it’s time to cook a luxurious Moroccan meal alongside a local chef. That self-made three-course menu of traditional treats, is then enjoyed on the rooftop. Guess what…the chef even shares his secret recipes!
I search of deeper levels of relaxation I headed to Palais Amani’s spa via a candle lit staircase. The luxurious tiled space offers a separate exfoliation room, showers and relaxation area and its the perfect spot to have a facial, gommage and, or traditional body treatment. Most treatments feature traditional products made from argan oil from the gardens of Ourika, ensuring that each spa-experience is both authentic and luxurious.I opted for the Royal Hamman which began with a hand and foot bath, then hand and food scrub using natural rose water and bran scrub…and all by candle light! A hair mask using white clay ghassoul and black soap application and vigorous body scrub followed. Finally a body mask and wrap ended with a gentle shampoo and body rinse. The rhythmic movements for the attendant were pure bliss.
Thank you Palais Amani for a blissful few days that left me revived in both body and spirit…I’ll be back!
Tester: Nick Cox
Treatment: Royal Hammam
Verdict: ‘Palais Amani…takes relaxation to another level’
Price: Rooms start from €160 (£142), Spa/ Body Treatments from €39.50 (£35),
Availability: Book rooms via www.palaisamani.com
Fez Cooking School can be booked separately via www.fezcookingschool.com
BothEden restaurant and Les Bains Amani can be visited independently.
1. 'Classic Bedroom' for two guests, prices starting from €115 (£100) excluding breakfast
2. Palais Amani - View towards the garden
3. 'Les Bains Amani' - Hotel- own Spa, 'Hammam' sessions starting from €39.50 for 30min (£35), book online via www.palaisamani.com/wellbeing
4. Medina - traditional Moroccan Market
5. Rooftop - View above Fès by night
6. Fez Cooking School Workshop, group classes starting from €47 (£42), book via www.fezcookingschool.com
7. Editor Nick Cox.
8. View from the 'Palais Amani' Terrace
9. The beautiful corridors of the 'Palais Amani' building