Kate Allen Stukenberg
- April 03, 2012
From the medina to the mountains, PaperCity fashion director Kate Allen Stukenberg journeys through the colorful mosaics of Morocco in search of the chicest shopping, lodging and dining.
Sofitel Fes, Palais Jamai
Fresh mint tea and macaroons greet you upon check-in at this hotel tiled throughout with beautiful mosaics. Being located at one of the gates to the ancient Fes medina means it provides not only spectacular views of the walled city, but also a convenient entrance to shop the souks.
The next best thing to a private meal at a Moroccan home is dinner in a remodeled riad boutique hotel in the medina. Dar Anebar, just a short walk from Palais Jamai, serves traditional Moroccan fare and stocks a full bar — a rarity in Fes.
The artisans of Fes are renowned for their handiwork. Walking the narrow paths of the medina, where motorized vehicles aren’t allowed but lots of donkey carts are, you’ll witness from souk to souk the exceptional weaving, embroidery, fine leather and woodwork they’ve mastered over the centuries. I picked up tunics, bags, poufs and jewelry on my shopping spree.
This gentleman, located mere steps inside the entrance of the medina just outside Palais Jamai, hand-carves bracelets, hairbrushes, combs, spoons and more out of goat horns. I picked up a bracelet for $3, and I’m kicking myself for not bringing home more.
Consider a day trip to Volubulis, Meknes — or, if you’re flying into Casablanca and driving to Fes, stop along the way. Built by the Romans sometime around 40 A.D., the mosaics at the Volubilis are breathtaking portrayals of Greek mythology. You’ll want to experience Volubilis at sundown, when the shadows on the monuments grow longer.
Four Seasons Resort
The newest Four Seasons Resort in the world, this sprawling 40-acre walled property of contemporary design with Moroccan influences is spectacular in every way. Each of the 141 rooms has a private balcony and unobstructed views of the historic Menara Gardens and Atlas Mountains. Palm trees hover above the many paths that lead you to the two pools, the spa, a stunning roof-top bar and three restaurants serving food inspired by Moroccan, Andalusian and Sicilian cuisines. Be sure to stop into the gift shop, which stocks stylish wares from local retailer Lalla.
Centrally located, this historic property completed a $100 million makeover by Jacques Garcia in 2009.
Dar Les Cigognes
We visited this riad bed and breakfast for dinner, and I fell in love with its very stylish boutique atmosphere. It’s no surprise this is where Caroline Kennedy has stayed with her family.
Luxury European hotel group The Oetker Collection opens Palais Namasker this month. The resort, which rests on nearly 100 acres about 20 minutes outside the city center of Marrakech, hosts 41 uniquely designed villas and suites, and has its own private jet service, which takes you from Casablanca Airport to the hotel in just 30 minutes.
My last dinner in Morocco was spent poolside in the gardens of this restored riad. Chef Mohammed (Moha) Fedal worked in Switzerland for many years and offers a delicious prix-fixe menu many describe as nouvelle Marocain.
An episode of Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre Foods that one of my travel companions watched before our trip led us to Lamb Alley, located near the entrance to Djemaa El-Fna. I was terrified at first, but I have to say that it was one of the most fun meals I had in Morocco. Do it.
Zid Zid Kids
Houston's Kuhl-Linscomb and Dallas' Baby Bliss and Nasher Sculpture Center carry this cute kids’ collection of toys, furniture and leather home accessories, but the studio in Marrakech carries pieces not available stateside. You can also custom-order special items at the studio. I have a silver metallic ride-on camel on order for my daughter, to match the metallic elephant bookends I picked up at Kuhl-Linscomb for her nursery last year.
Rue Fatima Zahra R’mila
I bought a colorful handwoven caftan and a few embroidered tunics for my daughter and myself at this shop, which supplies to luxury retailer Calypso St. Barth.
54, bd. Moulay Rachid, Guéliz
I discovered the most amazing antique Berber rugs downstairs at this shopping emporium. It killed
me to not come home with one.
Palais de la Menara
68 rue Kechachine, Medina
Located in the heart of the medina, this shop carries fine Moroccan furniture, lighting, home accessories and some enviable jewels.
Planéte des épices
Trik Dar El Bacha Bab Doukkala No. 5
Stock up on spices such as Moroccan cumin, cinnamon sticks, Ras El Hanout, ginger, pepper and cardamom — essential for cooking your own Moroccan fare back home. Also pick up coveted Argan oil at a reasonable price, natural perfumes such as jasmine and
rose, and the famous Moroccan mint tea.
33 Rue Majorelle
Rue Yves Saint-Laurent
This stylish shop stocks independent Moroccan fashion designers, and the lot include everything from hand-painted china to clothing for men, women and children, fur coats, scarves, shoes, jewelry, handbags, candles and home accessories. I loved everything in the store and walked out with some chic woven slippers.
Do not leave Morocco without experiencing a tantalizing hammam treatment. They’re available all over Morocco in local bathhouses, but to me, those are an adventure for only the truly adventurous. I suggest booking your hammam treatment at one of the luxury hotels. Le Spa at the Four Seasons Resort offers a traditional “black soap” hammam prior to exfoliation with the kessa glove and a ghassoul body mask. Trust me, your skin will thank you, and you’ll want to find out where you can do this at home. The answer? Nowhere.
Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Berge, renovated the gardens in the 1980s. This peaceful retreat is filled with succulents, cactus, bamboo groves and palms, and is awash in Yves Klein blue, yellow and vivid orange pots. It’s also home to a courtyard cafe and a very chic gift shop selling YSL-designed caftans and exclusive LouLou de la Falaise jewelry.