In Morocco’s Imperial capital of Fez, nearly a quarter of residents still live in the bustling Medina, Fes el Bali (Old Fez). The city is a mecca for artisans and tradesmen. It’s packed to the gills with artisan shops – silk makers, tanneries, carpenters – and souks selling their beautifully crafted items like leather handbags, brass lanterns, ceramics, and intricately carved wooden wares. Wander around the different quarters and souks and shop as you go. Less ostentatious than Marrakech, Fez doesn’t have as many glitzy hotels or designer riads, but it does have a few excellent choices like the Sofitel Palais Jamai. It’s hard to beat the exceptional spa or the Medina views from the terraces here. Book a room in the old palace wing which dates back to 1879 and boasts Moorish majesty and Medina views. There are three restaurants on property serving international and Moroccan fare but the kitchen will essentially prepare anything you like (if your stomach is a little uneasy after a few too many tagines, the kitchen is happy to create a simple dish like grilled chicken with rice). The spa, though pricey compared to local neighborhood hammams, is excellent, with a royal setup that includes zellige and tadelakt finishes, a geometric pool with massaging jets that come from all sides and above (to reach the top of your shoulders and neck), hammam, sauna, and several treatment rooms. One could easily relax here all day.
Now through fall, book your stay and recieve a $50 resort credit good for use at the spa, restaurant or bar. Rates start from about $213/night. Visit www.sofitel.com or call 800/763-4835.