There have been a number of very large riads restored over the years with varying degrees of success. Today we report on not only the most recent, but also, thankfully, one of the better ones.
Riad Laaroussa was one of the first of the great riads offering accommodation in Fez and is about to open after two years of painstaking renovation. A 17th century palace with floors covering over 1000 square metres, Riad Laaroussa is magnificent and restoring it an astonishing achievement for a man whose grandfather was a postman in Fez.
A Frenchman, Fred Sola's ancestors traveled from Sicily to Tunisia and then on to Fez at the turn of the last century. As his father lived in Casablanca and he has numerous relatives in the rural areas around Fez, moving into the medina has been something of a homecoming. It is interesting that a pragmatic man who has achieved so much is still touched by the "spirit" of Fez. "There is definitely something happening here - beyond explanation,' says Fred, gesturing with his hands as if trying to grasp the unknown.
Although Fred has been living in Paris for the last fifteen years, residing on a houseboat on the Seine and working in the finance industry, he has proved to be something of a renaissance man. Allowing his artistic side to surface he has done most of the interior design of the riad. While the traditional aspects of the riad structure and decoration have been conserved, Fred Sola's eclectic tastes in interiors have stylishly melded Moroccan and Indonesian influences. The results are superb.
Situated in the heart of the Fez Medina, Riad Laaroussa was once home to the Minister Mnebhi. Restoring it has been a challenge and, while others might well have turned the riad into a multi-room hotel, Fred decided to create only five suites - each comfortable and spacious.
As well as fine accommodation and dining, the chef in their vast kitchen will conduct lessons in preparing Moroccan cuisine. The Riad is being managed by Fred and his wife Cathy
You can email Isabelle at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You will find the riad at: 3 Derb Bechara, Fès médina
Photographs: Suzanna Clarke - email@example.com
Tags: Morocco Fes, Maghreb news