Wow! Where to start? Everything about Riad Le Calife is simply amazing! And it's not just the beautifully restored building with comfortable rooms, but also the fact that Yasmine and Alexandre are such wonderful hosts that it felt like staying with friends in their private home. Step in the door and the chaotic buzz of the medina melts away and you can't help but feel relaxed. And that's before you get onto Fatima's stunning food and the charming staff.... This is without doubt one of the top 3 places I have ever stayed.
The Riad itself is stunning and unlike many places in Fes, the period features are largely original and not just modern reproductions. Everywhere has a gorgeous smell of orange blossom and cedar wood that immediately makes you feel calm and relaxed. The communal rooms were all comfortable and spacious with a fully stocked bar, lovely dining room and a very smart library/reception around the peaceful courtyard garden.
We stayed in the Diamond Suite, which is definitely worth the extra money. It is enormous and lavishly appointed with period features everywhere - tiles, carved pillars, stained glass and the most beautiful painted ceilings I've ever slept under! The bowl of fruit and mini-bar with free softdrinks were nice touches. The bathroom was spacious and products very good.
Staying in December, it was one of the colder months. Our room was nice and warm with the heating. Some of the communal rooms were a little colder, but then again they do have lofty ceilings and nothing that a jumper couldn't fix! Advice at this time of year is to bring layers as many other places in Fes don't have heating. We didn't really need coats as we wandered around Fes, but some layers are a must!
Without Yasmine and Alexandre, Riad Le Calife would just be a beautiful building. They are truly brilliant hosts and could not have been more kind and helpful. I cannot emphasise enough the value of their combination of French and Moroccan backgrounds coupled with a previous life in Paris, not to mention the fact that Yasmine's family are pretty much tourism royalty in Fes. Not only do they know Fes inside out, but importantly they can also see it from non-Moroccan eyes too. Their tips on appropriate tipping amounts, haggling tactics and ballpark prices for what represents a good deal were invaluable. They also know the best people to arrange trips and guided tours with - we had a half-day tour of the medina with Hassan, who was an excellent guide and really helped us to understand the medina in greater detail than we ever would have done just wandering on our own.
From the moment we arrived, it felt like we were staying with old friends and felt reassured in the knowledge that if we were ever unsure about something, we could ask them and get a decent answer. Being in Fes for only 4 days, this made such a difference and minimised the (inevitable) period of feeling slightly overwhelmed and lost!
The presence of Fatima in the kitchen just makes things even better. Food was one of the main reasons for visiting Fes in the first place and she didn't disappoint - we ended up eating in the riad 3 out of 4 nights! The food was excellent, typically Moroccan and the portions are huge. I totally disagree with some previous reviewers who considered it overpriced - it might be more expensive than a small cafe in the medina, but you're getting a wholly different experience.
On the second night, I took up the offer of the free cooking class. We were the only ones eating, so I was able to choose what I wanted to cook. I then spent over 3 hours with Fatima in the kitchen preparing everything and chatting about Moroccan food and life in general. Her English is excellent and she is very knowledgeable and the time flew by. I would happily have paid for the class and it definitely did not feel like a 'freebie'.
If you like small, independent hotels and the prices fall within your budget, then I cannot see how anywhere in Fes could be better than Riad Le Calife.
The Diamond suite really is worth the extra money!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.