Luxury Hotels

TANGIER – 1

What’s the most beautiful hotel in the world? Well, in Morocco, Fairmont Tazi Palace is a contender. Hilltop above Tangier, and set in immaculately landscaped gardens that show you cannot have too much of lavender and olives when it comes to planting, it’s divinely peaceful and unbelievably creative in its quietness.

Except, that is, outside, as the sun comes up about 7.45. A couple of local dogs salute the dawn. The streets around are immaculately clean. Also by dawn, a uniformed garbage guy is looking for tiniest bits that should not be there. Another man, in mufti, is kneeling, cutting a bit of grass with sheers. A local lady, full make-up, puffer, tight jeans and sneakers is hiking up to a tiny shop for croissants. Girlahead hears how she knew Tazi Palace as a ruin and she’s so proud of it now. At Villa Lydia, Girlahead makes an about-turn as it’s breakfast time.

Above is a view from #901, the Signature Suite, one of only two suites in the original palace. It was built by Mohammed Tazi, part of the king’s inner circle, in 1928. Tazi never lived in it and anyway apparently he only ever intended it as his guesthouse. Katara bought it as a derelict and unloved ruin back in 2007 and over the years have spent a fortune turning it into a superior retreat (121 rooms with balconies, in two attached wings – plus those suites, and a world-class spa).

The whole thing is gorgeous, gorgeous. As indicated above, ocals and other Moroccans love it, and proudly use it (80% of spa business is from outside – the Palace is surrounded by significant and tasteful modern residences, big white villas that are home to those working the mammoth port and the global commerce that bases its all-Africa operations here in Tangier). The Swedish consulate, just across the road, dwarfs anything in Stockholm. And Girlahead just loves the fact that this will be ‘home’ for three nights. ¬†Watch this space.