Karawan Riad is a boutique hotel created for and by travellers. The owners are two pilots and a former French diplomat, and their knowledge of the world and of the needs of travellers is apparent in every aspect of the riad.
Karawan’s building is from the 17th century, and it has been meticulously restored. Instead of the jumble of colour and pattern typical of most riads, Karawan’s design is subtle and its palate subdued. But it is far from monotonous.
Designed by the owners and by Stéphanie Lanskin, Karawan Riad is stunning (if you need a restaurant or hotel designer, I strongly recommend snapping up Stéphanie!). Karawan has the bookshelf of my dreams — two stories full of good reading, travel photography and mementos collected from around the world.
Each of Karawan’s seven suites is different, and each transports you to another place or era, and sometimes both. Mine, named Chergui, has a wood-carved mezzanine lounge which looks out over the suite, accessed from a beautiful staircase. My king bed faces one of three huge windows, though I could block the light easily to enjoy a lazy morning. The tiny lanterns, objets d’art and the portraits of Amazigh women make me feel like I’m staying at the flat of my coolest friend, rather than at a hotel.
Dining at Karawan Riad is exceptional. The kitchen provides both traditional and international dishes, and everything is delicious (several restaurants and riads in town want to steal pastry chef Mahmoud). Breakfast is served in a first floor salon, dinner in a spectacular dining room, there’s tea and lunch service too. Cocktails are best in the library. If the weather is pleasant, you can also eat and drink in the courtyard or up on the rooftop patio with its views over the vast Fès medina.
I only wish I’d been able to visit in the summer, when the courtyard is flooded with rainwater (from the ingenious reservoir hidden beneath). Most of the courtyard is turned into a vast reflecting pool and provides natural air conditioning when Fès heats up. You can even have your lunch with your feet cooled in the water if you like!