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Saturday, 30 June 2007

Dar Seffarine: Romance in Fes' Ancient Medina - Page 2

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
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There is something so romantic about the restored riads (traditional houses) of Morocco. Dar Seffarine is an exceptional example of that. Its tile work is intricate and exquisite and its carved cedar wood gorgeous. The architecture is outstanding with huge carved doors and passageways that lead you up to secret balconies. Part of what gives it its romantic feel is the fact that it is nestled in some of the busiest, most confusing, and somewhat threatening tangle of alleyways in the ancient city of Fes, so it feels like a calm oasis in the midst of the storm.

dar seffarineThe owners are a kind couple, Kate from Norway and Alaa from Iraq, who’ve overseen this meticulous restoration project themselves. They’ve created unique rooms with interesting nooks and crannies and suites with lovely, spacious sitting rooms and separate bedrooms. I didn’t see two that were the same. The place is run by a friendly, helpful staff who seem like a part of the family.


In the morning we were treated to a homemade feast of fresh juice, avocado milkshakes, eggs, fried tomatoes, cornbread, strong coffee, and flatbread with jam. The breakfast room is right off the roof deck, where plump pillows line couches with a view of the rooftops – a great place to watch the sunset.



I got my wish on the second night, as we didn’t have to go anywhere after a hectic day, because dinner was served at the riad. It was a birthday celebration for one of the owners’ mothers and all the lively staff was there for the party and the guests were invited. After another endless dinner with so many courses, a live band made a dramatic entrance with 4 foot long horns blaring and drums beating while we cheered. Each song would start off with a slow, steady beat and get faster and wilder until it was sending people into trance-like fervor. We learned that this was traditional desert music and the musicians were like shamans.  The dance was meant to cleanse one’s mind, ridding oneself of fears and anxieties. Who needs psychotherapy, anyways?


Eventually, as the guests dropped off and retreated to their rooms, the incredible band was sent away and the rest of us climbed up the steep stairs to our refuges, now one of the extended family.



Details: Dar Seffarine,, double rooms 70 euros, dinner (if available) 100 dirhams, 200 with wine.



©Christina Kay Bolton



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