The hilly, serpentine streets of Fez seem like passages to nowhere. Yet every new turn in the 8th century Moroccan city's crowded alleys leads to surprises: a glimpse of intricate architecture, a stunning historic mosque or the shop of a local artisan peddling his handcrafted wares. After a day just following your nose and fending off the smiling but insistent merchants it's rejuvenating to return to a home base that is secluded from the commotion, yet infused with the city's imperial grandeur.
Your best chance of finding that is at a riad, one of the converted traditional villas built around courtyards that are multiplying all over the country. After staying initially at a modest yet charming riad in the seaside city of Essaouria, my family and I decided to move closer to the action, in Fez. Less than 200 m from the walled medieval city [an error occurred while processing this directive] center's entrance we found the Riad Fes Baraka, an oasis of tranquillity. Each of the five individually designed rooms with carved oak furniture, velvet curtains, patterned silk bedspreads and Berber carpets manages to be grand and yet surprisingly cozy.
Our bathroom in the Arabesque suite featured a cool concrete tub and locally produced natural soaps and moisturizers. A splendidly fresh breakfast of crusty bread, Moroccan bread or Moroccan crepes with jam is included. With its sumptuous comfort and kaleidoscopic flair, the Riad Fes Baraka captures all the intense and colorful blur of the city outside. tel: (212-5) 5740584; www.riadfesbaraka.com