Sometimes, you come across fantastic hotels and B&Bs that aren't really being run to turn a profit. The owners seem to do it just for the pleasure of hosting people and giving them a wonderful holiday, they don't count the pennies. Dar Gnaoua is one of these places.
I chose it after reading enthusiastic comments about the manager, Ahmed, and seeing the photos of the wonderful view from the roof terrace. So I had a feeling I'd like it, but little did I know how much.
First, the building is absolutely beautiful. My room (the Blue Room) was charming and cosy, with a lovely view from the windows. And although the wifi was only supposed to work in the public areas, I found it worked in the room too!
As for the view from the terrace... wow! The experience of having breakfast there is a memory I will treasure. I never got bored of looking out across the rooftops down below and seeing people go about their day-to-day lives, elegant minarets, taxis, birds and cats. It's a delightful, authentic scene framed by the hills, city walls and mountains in the distance. I defy anyone to find a better view in Fez. And the breakfasts themselves are lovely, substantial and attractively presented.
But the best thing of all here is Ahmed's amazing hospitality. He is a true gentleman, extremely considerate and attentive. He takes care of every little detail, from carrying your suitcase through the medina as you arrive to giving you thoughtful advice about exploring Fez and beyond. He even accompanied me a few times as I left the riad on the way to take a taxi or trip, to make sure I didn't get lost. He is one of those rare people who just seem to devote themselves to helping others without expecting anything in return. He's also really interesting to talk to and doesn't give you the hard sell on anything, in fact he pretty much talked me out of hiring a city guide as he said it just wasn't necessary - and he turned out to be right! As I told him just after I checked out, he personifies Moroccan hospitality.
They also work with a very good driver/guide called Abdoul who picked me up from the airport when I arrived and took me on a great trip to Meknes, Volubilis and Moulay Idriss. He also offers trips to other local places of interest and transfers to pretty much anywhere in the city. The Dar can also offer evening meals if you let them know in the morning what you'd like. And despite its location in the medina, it's surprisingly quiet. In the neighbouring streets, there are a lot of signs that point the way towards it, that was a big help.
All this came at a price which I felt was too low (yes, too low!) at around GBP 30 a night. It was the best value for money I've ever received. Can't wait to go back next year!
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