This guesthouse is located inside the old Medina, conveniently close to one of the main entrances (the Blue Gates). My husband and I didn't get into Fes until well past midnight. Knowing that we'd probably have troubles finding the old Medina, let alone the guesthouse inside the old Medina, we'd made arrangements with Abdul Karim, the owner, to get from the airport to Dar Hafsa. Sure enough, when we arrived, there was a taxi driver waiting for us. He drove us to the Blue Gates of the old Medina (15 euros - which we later learned was a good fare because when we left and hired our own taxi, it was 20 euros) and from there, we were greeted by a friendly teenager who helped us with our luggage and walked us directly to Dar Hafsa. Even though it was now close to 2AM, Abdul Karim had stayed up and greeted us and showed us to our room.
Our room had 2 single beds and was a tad cramp and dark. But there was AC and a TV and the bathroom was a decent size. It is an open shower, meaning there's no bathtub or shower stall or shower curtain. When taking a shower, it does get the toilet seat and everything nearby wet. But, the water pressure and temperature is great. There is a slight sewer smell in the bathroom, especially after a shower when everything is wet. But in the old Medina, because of the leather tanneries, everything smelt a bit off.
The next morning, we were greeted with the generous breakfast which many reviewers mentioned. Breakfast is a HUGE spread of many varieties of pastries, bread and baked goods, a glass of orange juice, a piece of soft cheese, jam, olives and half a boiled egg. Breakfast is served only from 9AM - 11AM, so on days we had to leave early for a tour or to catch a flight, we didn't get breakfast. For bread and carb lovers, this would be THE breakfast. Unfortunately, for us, by the second day, this was too carb-heavy and we were fighting for each other's half boiled egg. If possible, I'd suggest perhaps including or substituting some fruits into the breakfast. All in all, however, considering how much we paid for this place, the breakfast was a real treat.
I do agree with another reviewer's comment about Abdul Karim being a tad over-bearing and opinionated at times. He does comment and ask and remind you to write a review about Dar Hafsa on tripadviser or hostelbookers...while we were still staying there! BUT, we can tell that he is genuinely passionate about his business / guesthouse (which used to be his family's home) and can understand the importance of these reviews. During breakfast, he does sit there while we eat - but we just took that opportunity to ask him about Fes, the old Medina, his family, etc. And although at times him being constantly present made me (not my husband) a tad uncomfortable, he is ALWAYS helpful and offers suggestions / recommendations (whether asked or not).
Abdul recommended a tour guide to take us around the old Medina on the first day and I highly recommend that. No matter how adventurous you are, you need a guide to show you around first and then go exploring on your own. The guides also help keep many children and shop owners from hassling you. Our guide was extremely friendly, knowledgeable and pleasant to be around. Not once did he try to get us to buy anything or seem to favour any particular shop or shop owners. He took us around the old Medina for the entire day. From the very start, Abdul told us he'd be 20 euros per person and that was what we paid him at the end of the day, no surprises.
Abdul also recommended us a restaurant to eat at night. This is where we were a tad disappointed. He'd told us that this restaurant is where 'they' (meaning locals) went to eat and that it's the best around with the very best value. When we got there, we were surprised to see that this was the very restaurant which our guide took us to earlier that day. We were even more surprised to see that we were given the exact same menu (fixed menu where you get to chose from one of two appetizers, main dish and dessert) as earlier that day, except in the afternoon, the price per meal was 12 euros and now, it was 9 euros. When we went earlier in the day, there were a lot of other tourists, no locals, who were also brought there by their tour guides. This restaurant had obviously worked up some deals for tour guides / hotel owners to recommend their guests there...not quite the 'authentic' experience we were hoping for. The food was alright (regular chicken or beef or couscous tagine) but portions were small. However, none of us got sick afterwards. When another couple from the guesthouse ate at another restaurant the following day, they ended up getting food poisoning and had to remain at the guesthouse, cancelling their tours and flights. Not wanting to return to the same restaurant or gamble our health and eat anywhere else, we ended up taking a taxi for 5 euros to the new city and ate at Burger King and McDonald's for our other meals.
The view on the rooftop terrace was probably one of the main reasons why we booked it and why we enjoyed our stay there the most. We spent most of our time up there whenever we returned to the guest house (including eating Burger King up there one night). It overlooks the whole of the old Medina with the Atlas mountains in the background. It's simply breathtaking and stunning.
Overall, this wasn't a 5 star hotel...but we also didn't pay anything near a 5-star hotel rate. We got way more than what we paid for and I'd recommend this guest house to anyone who's looking for a budget-friendly, neat, clean and sweet place to stay while in Fes!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Dar Hafsa is a traditional 19th century Morocccan home. Recently renovated, the house is a beautiful example of fine Moroccan craftsmanship. The ornate tile work and painted doors reflect the best in cultural design. An open floor plan with multiple indoor balconies gives the house a cozy feeling, but not at the expense of privacy. A roof-top terrace offers an expansive view of the Fes Medina and the Riff Mountains.This lovely accommodation is seven minutes from the Blue Gate (Bab Bouljoud), and a simple right-hand turn from the main street (derb sidi safi souiket ben safi talaa sghira) and souk. It is situated on a quiet, clean byway. Those looking for a more authentic Fes stay will find themselves a reasonable distance from hustle and bustle of the shopping and trade.You will feel welcome at Dar Hafsa by the family who manages the guest house, Mariam and Aziz and their parents. They are friendly and generous. English, French, and Arabic languages are spoken well, along with some Spanish and German. Your comfort and satisfaction is assured, and the family can share their local knowledge to enrich your stay. ... more less
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