This Moroccan City Is One of the Best Places to Go in 2023 — Thanks to This Stunning New Hotel

A reimagined 1920s palace immerses guests into the rich culture of Morocco’s buzziest destination.

Fairmont Tangier exterior seen at night amongst the cityscape
Photo:

Courtesy of Fairmont Tangier

Just outside of Tangier, named one of the best places to go in 2023 by Travel + Leisure, the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, and centuries of trade have created a cultural fusion of Moroccan, Spanish, and French influences. The spirit of these blended cultures is best displayed at the recently opened Fairmont Tazi Palace Tangier, a new hotel redefining luxury in the vibrant city known for its cosmopolitan and laid-back lifestyle. 

Dating back to the 1920s, the original palace has been meticulously restored and reimagined into a public gathering space. At the same time, the surrounding property was expanded to include 133 rooms, suites, and penthouses set on a hillside that overlooks the glittering sea, city, and mountains from a distance. In both the palace and the newer build of the hotel, guests get a glimpse of what life there would have been like for the King's advisor, for whom the residence was initially commissioned. 

Fairmont Tangier's deluxe room terrace with city views and lounge seating

Courtesy of Fairmont Tangier

This splendor is immediately presented in the hotel's reception, where soaring 40-foot ceilings indicate that this is not the average luxury hotel lobby. The elegant arched hallways and patterned, inlaid floors reinforce this notion. The common spaces are filled with architectural and design details that Morocco is known for, including delicate moucharabieh latticework, tadelakt plaster, and zellige tile, all handcrafted. 

The main level of Fairmont Tazi Palace Tangier is mainly built around a large central courtyard, visible from indoor spaces that lure visitors outside and where a surrounding natural forest meets carefully planted gardens of eucalyptus, palm, olive, citrus, and pomegranate trees. The 65,000-gallon pool sitting at the center of the courtyard is undoubtedly a highlight of the hotel, lined with stylish loungers by Point, locally sourced Taza stones, and a black marble interior that beautifully reflects back the surrounding arabesque architecture. 

Long Moroccan style corridor at the Fairmont Tangier

Courtesy of Fairmont Tangier

Despite the more formal palace setting, hospitality is one of the defining characteristics of Moroccan culture, and guests at the hotel are treated with a comfort they might otherwise find in their homes. As a result, service is always warm, friendly, and detailed in its approach, as if one is being looked after in a private residence rather than a hotel. This was the goal for the guests at Mr. Tazi's original palace and something both Fairmont and architecture firms OBMI and CCCRA were inspired to keep intact as they designed the spaces. 

The hotel's team is also committed to providing enriching cultural experiences for their guests, as they do in the Rose Room, a beautifully lit atrium serving both a high tea and an all-day menu. Here, the Moroccan tea ritual is accompanied by pastries, cakes, and decadent, freshly baked scones with rose jams. Signature green and white teas and unique calming blends like the "mysterious medina" wow tea aficionados and feature oolong, star anise, and coriander. Since coffee culture has long been a tradition in Morocco, single-origin coffees are also available, as are flavored iced drinks, including lime and rose iced tea, limonada, and rouge à lèvre — which is made with rose, strawberry, and lime.

For something slightly stronger, in-the-know hotel guests make their way to Innocents, a speakeasy bar accessed by knocking on the door using the famous "hand of Fatima." In the intimate space, bartenders concoct cocktails rather unorthodoxly over a piano while guests relax and take in a range of live music by saxophonists and West African drummers. The stylish space is outfitted with funky chairs, from clear lucite armchairs to more regal club chairs that appear to have been dripped with paint. The room is adorned with West African murals and a bright-yellow tufted couch to slink into.

Origin, the hotel's other handsome, moody bar, is slightly more sophisticated and ideal for a nightcap. Here, guests can sample handcrafted cocktails that use ingredients and garnishes from the hotel's vegetable garden alongside a decadent menu of whiskeys, fine tequilas, rums, vermouth, and a robust, à la carte cigar menu. 

Aside from teas and libations, the hotel is quickly developing a reputation for its culinary options, which aim to offer guests private and unique cultural dining experiences. The distinct eateries range from the health-focused Clementine, which serves healthy juices and a spa restaurant-like menu, to Parisa, a stylish Persian restaurant. The latter has a lovely outdoor terrace and serves updated interpretations of time-honored classics like mezes, spiced kebabs, and platters ideal for sharing. 

One of the hotel's most exceptional dining spots is Crudo, where coastal Mediterranean cuisine is brought to life in a delicate tuna tartare dish served with pecans, olive, and a tomato confit or by the local Carabineros prawn dish finished with pear, chili, and mandarin. Travelers should not shy away from trying the mojama — a salt-cured tuna often described as the "ham of the sea” — either. Desserts at the restaurant take on the French flair and include an apple tart and chocolate mousse, and another showstopper for sweet tooths is the vacherin aux framboise, a raspberry ice-cream cake made with meringue. Come the morning, the Crudo space transforms into a breakfast room serving hearty Moroccan dishes, including quail eggs and khlii, a preserved meat. 

Those resting their heads overnight at Fairmont Tazi Palace Tangier will find guest rooms bathed in natural light with a spacious layout and contemporary design infused with traditional arabesque shapes and textiles. Modern Moroccan lamps, latticework, wood details, and intricate plaster crown moldings enrich the spaces, and from standard deluxe rooms, guests can enjoy serene forest views. Many rooms have private terraces, and a room type with a private garden is also available. Still, upgrading to the "panoramic" category rooms is best for mesmerizing bird's-eye views of The White City. As the sun disappears over the horizon, these accommodations offer a glittering display of Tangier's golden-hued sunsets.

Interior room with chaise lounge at Fairmont Tangier

Courtesy of Fairmont Tangier

The Signature Penthouse is another show-stopping upgrade, where the separate living room has a gold leaf-covered ceiling and one-of-a-kind furniture crafted by Spain's finest artisans. It also gets high marks for its unique indoor/outdoor bathroom that opens to a large terrace with breathtaking sea and mountain views. 

Primary bedroom with couch and chair and terrace access in the Fairmont Tangier's Penthouse

Courtesy of Fairmont Tangier

Interior of Rose Room at Fairmont Tangier, lots of seating options and large windows

Courtesy of Fairmont Tangier

The most opulent accommodation is the 3,500-square-foot Katara Suite, on the hotel's top floor. Named for Katara Hospitality, the owner of the Fairmont Tazi Palace Tangier, the suite's dining room features beautiful landscapes of Tangier drawn by celebrated Moroccan artists. The room is complemented by a bohemian crystal chandelier, and the broader suite features unique pieces of furniture imported from Italy. One of its magnificent bathrooms is covered from floor-to-ceiling with arabestato Italian marble and features an oversized soaking tub and walk-in shower. All of Fairmont Tazi Palace Tangier’s room categories have bathrooms that feel spa-like, though, with toiletry products from well-known Moroccan brand infused with neroli essential oil, which is derived from orange flowers and commonly used in perfumery.

Guests can enter the actual spa to find an inspiring yoga and workout room with beamed ceilings and gorgeous moucharabieh windows. A holistic health and wellness approach is offered across 10 beautiful treatment rooms utilizing luxe products from Swissline Cosmetics, Maison d'Asa, and Sodashi. After relaxing treatments — from energizing crystal massages to sleep therapy treatments focused on improving rest — guests can also enjoy the spa's outdoor spaces, jacuzzi, hammam, and solarium. 

The hotel will also connect guests with experiences farther outside its walls, too, including horseback riding on the beach at sunset or cooking classes, and offer guidance and tips on visits to the “Blue City” of Chefchaouen and the funky, artsy Asilah. 

Situated on a protected hill in the leafier, well-heeled Jbel Kbir neighborhood, Fairmont Tazi Palace Tangier is just a 15-minute car ride from the city's ancient medina. A popular stop on the 1960s hippie trail and where the Rolling Stones famously got stoned, Tangier's narrow city streets are filled with a rich bohemian spirit, shaped by its incredible culture and history. The city is undoubtedly having a moment as travelers discover parts of Morocco outside of Marrakech and look to its coastal riviera, where there's no denying that things will continue to boom. In this fast-developing part of the world, tourism is playing a significant role in that, with Waldorf Astoria recently announcing its plans to open a luxury hotel in Tangier in 2025.

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