The smallest of Morocco’s imperial cities, Meknes is a lively town an hour from Fez and well worth a visit. It was built by Sultan Moulay Ismail as his capital when he assumed the throne in 1672. It has a small and hassle-free medina, a large square, Place el Hedim, for the essential people-watching over mint tea, a Museum at Riad Jamai set in a lovely garden, and the remarkable Heri es-Souani imperial granaries and stables.
Often Meknes is combined in a day trip from Fez with visits to Moulay Idriss and Volubilis. But for those who enjoy the quieter pace of Meknes, there are some good places to stay.
Ryad Bahia is a lovely guesthouse just inside the medina. The owners, Bouchra and Abdellatif, are super-friendly and very knowledgeable about the town. They’re also registered guides. Room prices start at 60 Euros per double per night. The riad is very comfortable and has an excellent restaurant (open to outsiders, too).
Just outside Meknes in the countryside, you’ll find Le Jardin de Ryad Bahia: just the place for a day outside the city. It has a lovely garden with swimming pool, 9 rooms, workshop facilities and a large kitchen for teaching Moroccan cooking. Bouchra and Abdellatif will provide transport to and from Meknes.
This is a very friendly guesthouse with English/Moroccan owners. It’s decorated in the grand Moroccan manner and has comfortable rooms. There’s a multi-level roof terrace with excellent views. Dinner is available on request and costs 17 Euros per person. Room prices from 55 Euros per room for two per night, including breakfast and local taxes.