The sprawling medina of Fes, with it’s narrow and confusing web of alleyways, can be exhausting, especially in the heat. So your choice of accommodation needs some thought, even more so if you are visiting Fes with kids. Location, character, and a pool were our key criteria, and Palais Houyam ticked all three of these boxes and more.
Disclaimer: TraveLynn Family were provided with a two night complimentary stay at Palais Houyam in return for this honest review and social media coverage. As always, these are all my own words. This post also contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, it is at no additional cost to you, but I receive a small commission.
Walking down the dusty alleyway of Fes Medina, following the Google Map point with phone clutched in hand, a local stops us and warns that there’s nothing down there. Indeed, the ‘palace’ is supposed to be just 50 metres in front of us, but all we can see is a small, unimposing doorway with faded writing above.
We confidently stride towards the doorway in the afternoon heat, beads of sweat dripping down our cheeks; surely our Google Map point is right? Please be right, as after two weeks in searing heat, first in Tetouan and then in Chefchaouen, we cannot wait to jump into a pool.
Thankfully, Google Maps didn’t fail us. We walked through the understated door and into a stunning oasis of grandeur. We had arrived at Palais Houyam.
First impressions of Palais Houyam
Hidden in a quiet corner of Fes Medina, Palais Houyam is a pocket of tranquillity, offering an authentic riad experience. But, what makes it perfect for families, is the relaxed and warm welcome; expect fist pumps and high fives for the kids, and perhaps the threat of being thrown into the pool (cue giggles).
I’m always wary of staying at riads with our boys. Sound magnified from the pool reverberates across the tiled walls, and I feel the need to apologise to quiet couples reading in corners; it doesn’t make for an entirely relaxing stay. But when we find a riad that is very comfortable with kids, and more importantly, makes parents feel comfortable, then we need to tell you about it!
And Palais Houyam is truly stunning. The welcoming pool sits in front of a two storey courtyard with tiled pillars and flooring, and traditionally crafted stone and woodwork. Contrasting modern tub chairs invite you to sit and admire the art wort. Rooms lead off from this central courtyard, but make sure you follow the steps to the roof, for expansive views over Fes.
We had a Royal Suite on the ground floor, next to the open courtyard and pool. This was very handy as us parents could read and work in the courtyard outside the door whilst our boys were sleeping. In fact, I’m writing this review for you now in the courtyard right now, waiting for the boys to wake up.
The décor of our large family room echoes the craftmanship elsewhere in the riad. There is a grand four-poster king-sized bed and then two single beds for our boys converted from the sofa. Moroccan tiles adorn the floor and walls, and a detailed ceiling with the hanging ornate brass lampshade adds grandeur to the room.
Steps lead down to the bathroom with a good power-shower and plentiful towels.
The room has a TV, air-conditioning unit, a fridge, and a kettle.
The swimming pool
After two weeks of searing June heat, with temperatures nudging 40°C and staying at accommodation with no aircon or pool to cool down, that pool at Palais Houyam had our name on it!
Now the pool at Palais Houyam isn’t the biggest, and I had worried that it would be too small to keep the boys occupied. But four hours of solid pool play on our first day confirmed that the size of the pool really didn’t matter. Indeed, the boys spent longer in this pool, than they have in previous riad pools in Morocco! Often the water in Moroccan swimming pools is close to freezing, and why our Morocco packing list always includes a wetsuit. But at Palais Houyam the water temperature really is perfect, which means guaranteed hours of pool time for the kids!
There are five sun loungers at the edge of the pool, and towels are available on request. Beer is also served on request if parents find a quiet 15 minutes.
A relaxed breakfast is served each morning by the pool consisting of fresh fruit, eggs, and a selection of local breads. It’s a beautiful spot to start the day.
There’s a lunch and dinner menu that can be served either by the pool, or in the upstairs restaurant. There’s little in the way of snacks on the menu, but staff are happy to rustle something up for you if a tagine or couscous dish isn’t to your fancy. Dinner prices are a little higher than regular restaurants around the medina.
The WIFI is very good and available throughout Palais Houyam. Our boys did a couple of online video calls for their DoodleLearning coaching lessons (we’re travelling long term through Morocco and the boys are doing online schooling) and the WIFI worked well.
Things to do near Palais Houyam
Palais Houyam is tucked away in a quiet corner of Fes Medina. There are rarely mopeds whizzing past and very little footfall. Also, there are no shops or restaurants immediately outside, but it’s just a short five minute walk to get to reach them.
Would we recommend Palais Houyam for families?
Staying in a traditional riad is a must do when visiting Fes, and kids are welcomed with open arms at Palais Houyam. In fact, as I’m sat typing this, there are two other families sat enjoying breakfast by the pool. It’s 9:20am and my boys are still sleeping. Although this is a pattern we’ve slipped into whilst travelling norther Morocco; we make the most of the evenings and stay up later as it’s much cooler then.
Palais Houyam is a riad which is used to families visiting, can be flexible with meal timings, and are happy for your kids to jump into the pool.
Getting to Palais Houyam
We had taken the CTM bus from Chefchaouen to Fes. From Fes bus station a two Petits Taxis brought us to Bab Ziat (costing 11DH each on the meter). Petits Taxis in Morocco only take three passengers, so as a family of four, we have to split into two Petits Taxis. Also, just go straight to the red taxi queue across the road from the bus station. Ignore any taxi driver that comes up to you and the Grand Taxis.
Bab Ziat is a relatively quiet entrance to Fes Medina and it’s only a short 100 meter walk to Palais Houyam. It’s easy enough to follow directions on Google Maps.
How to book Palais Houyam
Head over to the Palais Houyam website to check prices and book your stay.