Riads are guesthouses in the old Medinas of Morocco’s medieval cities. Fes is the country’s second-largest city, and as such its sprawling Medina hosts a number of newly-renovated riads. If you are looking for cheap, budget accommodation in Fes, then Riad Doha will be one of your best options. It is cheaper than most riads. The only other place that will cost less is a dorm room in a hostel. But in the spirit of candidness, I hope to give a bit more insight into this hotel, if you are thinking about booking there.
You can also read Trip Advisor reviews of the Riad Doha. Here, I will describe my experience in this riad, where I stayed for 6 nights. This article is part of a series of articles on Morocco, which includes photos of the Fes Medina (a little eye candy for the soon-to-be catapulted there).
A Review of the Riad Doha
I should say that no one is paying me to write this review. Any reviews that I create on this website exist because I want them to. I found little else than rants or raves on reviews of Riad Doha, so I wanted to write one myself to help shed light on who would like to stay there, and who would not.
Riad Doha is tucked up on a hill in the Medina. Initially it is hard to find (more on that later), but then again so are all the riads in Fes. It is a small riad, with two large rooms on the ground floor, three 2-bed suites with inward-looking windows, and four matrimonial rooms with couches, two with street-facing windows. All riads have an inner court that are open at the roof, with a moveable cover for when it rains. The mosaic tiles that cover the floor, pillars and walls are a standard of Moroccan interior design, and are a pleasure to look at.
See the little nook on the top of the photo? It’s a lovely area to take breakfast. Breakfast in most riads is included in the price of the room, and mint tea is supplied any time. At Riad Doha, the breakfast consists of various breads and jams, butter, and coffee or tea. Joseph is the main man there, although he is not the owner. He speaks French, English and Spanish at a conversational level, and always takes the time to sit with you and speak candidly about anything.
Mayra pointed out one short falling, but something that marks Morocco in general rather than just the Riad Doha. In Morocco, the hospitality is good. The problem is that the Moroccans know it, and mention it constantly. It elevates the concept to a place of meta-hospitality, and makes it difficult to immerse yourself in it, since you’re constantly reminded that you’re being treated well. It’s a minor flaw in an otherwise very hospitable place.
Here is a closer look at that nook, and also some mint tea:
Temperature in the Riad Doha
We were in Fes in August, which is a boiling hot month. There were air conditioning units in each of the rooms, but these were centrally controlled and kept at a temperature of 29 degree Celsius, which was insufficient. I didn’t mind however, and never asked to make it cooler. I would not put it past Joseph to increase the temperature, although a friend I met at the Riad Doha expressed some frustration in making it happen.
Rooms at the Riad Doha
The room we had was a matrimonial with only a small window looking inward to the court area, on the second floor. The door is flimsy and most noise from the courtyard or other rooms come easily into ours. It was not a problem, however, since the other guests were aware of the same and kept the volume of their merriment minimal. Here is a picture of our room:
Mind you, this room cost us 20 dollars per night. That’s 10 dollars per person. If you reserve a room at the Riad Doha, you should not expect the facilities to match what you would pay at a more expensive establishment. In my review of the Riad Doha, I want to point out that this place is for either budget travelers, or travelers who are low-maintenance.
If your standard includes having a shower curtain then the Riad Doha is not for you. The shower was a stained tub, but plenty of hot water, which didn’t matter for us as we preferred cold showers after long hot walks in the Fez Medina. Bathroom itself was adequate, and you can flush the paper. It was not a sight for eyes used to having perfect, unstained walls, but what other use is a wall for you besides being a wall? I do not care about cracks. I care about black mold, but found none of that. The workers at the Riad Doha will ask you daily if you want your room cleaned. I’m sure that soap would be provided if you asked, but we did not.
Joseph was a friendly face, and but he did not suffocate guests with eagerness either. He was kind, and provided mint tea whenever I requested it. Often, he sat with me and we spoke. He made it very clear to me that he would never charge me anything extra for additional services. “Here, this is your home, be as you would be in your home,” he would say. “You are good people, and sister’s smile [referring to Mayra] is too good.” He made a very clear point here which is very important if you are thinking of staying at the Riad Doha: “If you are good people, we treat you like family. We will come get you from where the taxi leaves you, we will do whatever you require. If you come here at 3am we will not charge you an extra night. But if you come at 3am and are an asshole to us about it, then maybe I will charge you something extra.”
The point is: be a good person, and the Riad Doha is a good place for you. But an entitled dick about things, and you will not receive the same warm, generous welcome that we did.
For 5 euros, an old man who Joseph knows will take you all over the Medina for a several-hour long tour. We did not do this because I wanted to get lost, which is the best way to learn where you are. But the old man is friendly, and the price is set. Too often tourists in Fes get taken advantage of by unofficial guides. The old man is unofficial, but vouched for by Joseph and the Riad Doha–so it’s a viable option for those interested in such extras.
Food at Riad Doha
We had our daily breakfast, but we did not eat a custom meal at Riad Doha. I’m sure it’s a lovely meal, and many guests were very pleased with the meals. Joseph only charges 120 Dirhams per person (12 dollars about), for a several-course meal, which you can eat on the terrace or in the court, or even in your room. I wrote about what food Moroccan eat, if you’re curious about what you’d be served. One note: my friend wanted lamb and was served chicken. He was quite upset about it, but Joseph assured him it wouldn’t happen again. I believe him. Make sure you make it very clear what you want, as is true anywhere and with anything in Morocco.
Who stays at the Riad Doha?
The community of people who stay at the Riad Doha are naturally people who are budget travelers. Some have described it as a hostel vibe on Trip Advisor, but that is not how I felt. There was a family staying there, although they mentioned that other accommodation would have been better for their needs. There were mostly young people there, and single travelers of the long-term sort. My type of hotel if ever there was one, since I mostly camp hitchhiking.
Is there a roof terrace at the Riad Doha?
As with most riads in the Fes Medina, there is a roof terrace at the Riad Doha. It has many tables under the sun, and a little nook area for meals as well. In the summer, it is too damn hot to spend much time there. But the evenings are wonderful. Here are some views over the Fez Medina from the Riad Doha roof terrace:
How to get to the Riad Doha in Fes, Morocco
Getting around the Fes Medina is tricky, but creates a necessary process that immerses you in the experience of this place. But when you arrive to place, it’s better not to sour it with an initial negative experience. That’s what we did. We got lost looking for the Riad Doha, so had a boy show us the way. He tried to charge 15 dollars, but we gave him 2, which is more than the going rate for such a favor. Joseph or someone else will come and meet you on the outskirts of the Medina to bring you to Riad Doha.
Since we got lost, we decided to make it abundantly clear how to get to the Riad Doha by writing this. This is the location of Riad Doha despite what you will have found on maps on Expedia or on the Riad Doha website itself. Those maps are WRONG. This is the location of Riad Doha:
Do not follow this Google map, you will get lost.
First, you have to get to the Place Rcif. I described how to get to Place Rcif from the airport before. Place Rcif has a big blue door called Bab Rcif. This is it:
Once at Place Rcif, backtrack back down the avenue until you get to the BMCE Bank. It is exactly here:
From this location, you will enter the market on the other side of the street, and from there use the following video to arrive at Riad Doha (Mayra is in the way, but it’s clear enough to know where you’re going). If people tell you at one point you’re going the wrong way to Riad Doha, know that there are two entrances. Don’t accept help–you know where you’re going with this video!
You’ll know you’re at the right place if you see these knockers on the door:
We were greeted by one of the many cats, one of whom I named Freckles:
The Velabas blog is a complement to the Stories. Here, you’ll find practical travel blog articles, helpful tips, and some more inquisitive, insightful articles as well. At the time of visiting Morocco, I was living in Barcelona and published articles about that experience. Check out some of the titles:
- How is Catalan Different from Spanish
- What is there to see at the Barcelona Aquarium?
- Getting Colorful: Celebrating Holi in Barcelona