La Maison Bleue is one of the classics of Fès. It, and its sister riad, are still owned by the grandchildren of the man who built the residence in 1915.
Both hotels are in the Fès medina near Bab Boujloud, the blue gate (though, not to be confusing, one side of the gate is green). This is a convenient location; the northwestern part of the medina is popular with tourists and it is easy to find a coffee or a meal at most hours of the day and evening (not always the case in other parts of the medina). Both hotels are easy to reach by car; a taxi can stop right outside the Riad and at the entrance to a narrow alley less than a minute’s walk to La Maison.
The welcome at La Maison Bleue is a traditional one — milk flavoured with rose water and a plate of dates, with a wet cloth to wash off the dust from your travels. The decor of the four buildings making up the La Maison is also traditional Fassi, with abundant zellij tiles and a terrace that covers three rooftops. La Maison is protected by UNESCO, which means additions and changes are carefully controlled.
My room was next to Reception, facing the pool (unheated) in the central courtyard. My bed was pretty with its hanging curtains, and toasty warm thanks to a heated layer (each side of the bed with individual controls). The air temperature is also controlled with a reverse cycle heating and cooling unit, not only does it work well but it has reduced energy consumption too. I enjoying relaxing in my sitting area, nibbling the fruit and cookies left for me on the table and watching how the sunlight filtered prettily through the stained glass windows (don’t worry, there’s a thick curtain to pull over them at night).
Rooms are equipped with a mini-fridge and a tv with a seemingly infinite number of international visual and music channels (use the guide to help you sort through them). Bathrooms are pale marble, atmospherically lit, and have both a toilet and a bidet, a bathtub with shower (there’s a partial glass wall to keep the rest of the room mostly dry), and a sink area with a big mirror. The hotel has a hammam and spa, as well as a large fitness room with beautiful views.
I was impressed with the strong English of every staff member I encountered, and with the helpfulness of Reception in providing advice and directions. The manager is very proud of the hotel, telling me of the many film and music stars that have stayed, that La Maison Bleue invented many hotel notions and even originated the boutique hotel concept (in Fès, I assume, rather than the world).