To experience the wonder of staying in an incredible tradtional Fez house visit Dar El Menia on the web.
Staying in a traditional house in the Fez medina can be one of the most memorable things about your time in Morocco. There is something beyond magical about looking up at high beams hewn from Atlas Cedar before you close your eyes and drift to sleep. And of course, the feeling of exhilarating relief as you wind your way through the souks and derbs, getting lost, finding your way, asking directions, stopping to eat a delicious bit of bastilla or sip a bit of sweet mint tea, and finally coming to a recognizable metal studded wooden door and knowing that for the moment, you are home.
This, perhaps, is the thing that never ceases to amaze me about the many types and styles of home in the Fes medina. Upon entering, they all feel like home. Whether it is the warm tapestries or a psychological result of the zellij, I can’t say, but I’ve talked with a lot of tourists, residents, and travelers about this and the feeling is nearly universal. And that, is a very good thing, because be warned, the medina can be overwhelming to all of the senses to even those who are most used to it. That sense of comfort that comes from being home, whether you are staying in a massreiya, riad, or dar is a necessary psychological adjustment to the exotic chaos that is ever present in the Fes medina.
One such home away from home that is a favorite resting point for everyone from dignitaries to lonely planet writers is Dar El Menia. Situated near one of the many pulsing veins of the medina, Talaa Kebira, this traditional family Dar is approximately 250 years old and fully restored in traditional style with a few modern amenities added on in ways that don’t distract from the craftsmanship, design, and overall aesthetic of the world’s largest car free urban zone.
Fes is the largest medieval Islamic city in the world that is still occupied and as such staying in a place like Dar El Menia puts you firmly within a living museum. By making a traditional Fassi house like Dar el Menia your temporary base, you make every facet of your stay in this ancient fortified city a historical journey and put yourself within easy reach of the famous hammams, tanneries, mosques, medersas, and living museums.
From the original marble floor to the fully restored plaster and zellij tile work, Dar el Menia oozes luxury and comfort without giving an inch to compromise. The courtyard carries cool breezes down from the roof where epic views of the medina will fill you with wonder at any time of the day or night. Dar el Menia is the personal project of Graham Coules, a friendly Englishman whose face is familiar to everyone who spends any amount of time in the medina. Day to day running of the dar is taken care of by a local Moroccan family that have lived and worked in the medina for generations.
They say that you haven’t experienced Morocco until you have been invited into a Moroccan home, and a stay at Dar el Menia counts as such. Um Klthum, who acts as housekeeper and manager is an incredible Moroccan cook and loves to make traditional foods to share with guests. When you eat her Friday couscous on the roof of Dar el Menia, you will know why every Moroccan’s mom makes the best couscous in the world. Her tajines, bastilla, fresh baked khobz (bread), and salads bring the many spices, fresh ingredients, and traditional cooking techniques together in a meal that you will certainly consider a masterpiece.
To book a room in Dar El Menia go here
Mustapha, the household manager also oversaw restoration and construction on the house and is knowledgeable about the many techniques and styles of building and craftsmanship within the medina.
Abdul, who speaks English, Spanish, French, Derija, and modern standard Arabic is more than just the family linguist, he is a ready and willing conversationalist and historian who is both willing and capable to help you understand the many incredible things you will see throughout your days in this traditional home. And if you are lucky enough to be around when he picks up a guitar, you’ll find that music is another language he speaks fluently. The chance to interact and become friends with this local family is one of the things that truly makes Dar el Menia stand out among the many houses in Fez that you can choose to stay in.
Dar el Menia can sleep up to eleven guests and if you are part of a group, the entire house is available for rental. Because of its reputation and comfort, it is adviable to make reservations well in advance of when you will be in Fes. King size beds, fans, wi-fi, a roof top shower, full baths and showering facilities, a large communal kitchen, and stunning views over the Merenid tombs and large sections of the medina from the rooftop terrace all make your stay here one that is comfortable, memorable, and a relief from the rigours of world travel.
Um-Klthum will provide you with lunch or dinner if you wish to arrange it and breakfast is served for all guests each and every morning. Everything from towels to blankets are provided and in the colder winter months, each room has a heater too. Prices vary according to season but a stay in Dar el Menia can cost as little as 450 dirhams per night. Of course if you want an en-suite bathroom or to rent the whole house, prices will be a bit more. Dar el Menia has been recommended by everyone from Lonely Planet to the Sunday London Times.
To arrange a stay at Dar el Menia or to find out more about this incredible traditional house in Fes, take a look at the website Graham has built for it.