advertisement

As befits this spiritual, conservative, and orthodox city, most nightlife in Fes revolves around family activities and nonalcoholic pursuits, namely enjoying an ice cream or drinking coffee or mint tea in one of the city's cafes. From late afternoon to late evening, you'll often find families and young Fassis hanging out on Baghdadi Square, between Bab Mahrouk and Bab Boujloud. Quite often you'll find musicians, storytellers, and even some African herboristes -- a la Jemaa el Fna in Marrakech -- entertaining the crowds and adding a noisy, lively atmosphere to the evening stroll. Cafe Clock is a great place to meet both locals and travelers. It hosts irregular literary and film events, including movie nights in the special projector room. Farther down Tala'a Kbrira is the recently opened Fez Lounge, 95 Zkak Rouah, off Tala'a Kbira (tel. 0535/633097; www.fezlounge.com). Alesandro Betissam's sultry lounge bar blends aspects of his native Spain with that of the exotic l'Orient, offering tapas and a menu of Moroccan standards in an interior of charcoal walls, soft lighting, and minimalistic decor. Nonalcoholic drinks are also available and in the back room is a shisha lounge complete with stretch-out lounges. They often have themed party nights, when the usual sounds of world lounge are replaced with the latest in Euro electronica. It's open daily from 11am to 10pm. If you're looking for a drink in the medina, the longtime watering hole of choice is still the Hotel Batha. The hotel's colonialesque Churchill lounge is a popular haunt with both expat residents and hotel guests, while Le Consul bar at the rear can sometimes have quite a party happening and stays open until 2am. Between the two medinas of Fel el Bali and Fes Jdid, and only a 5-minute walk from Bab Boujloud, is Mezzanine, 17 Kasbah Chems, opposite Jardin Jnan Sbil (tel. 0611/078336; mezfez@gmail.com). During the day this relaxed lounge and eatery offers a welcome respite from the outside world, with a menu of mainly tapas, Moroccan and Mediterranean dishes, and a drinks list that ranges from fresh juices and cold beer to cocktails and shots of whiskey. In a compact building sandwiched between everyday shops and houses, the two softly lit and inward-facing interior levels emit an exotic ambience and encourage intimacy, with low-lying chairs, glass tables, and charcoal walls adorned with African masks. Natural light beams downward from the rooftop terrace, which is both private and a little voyeuristic as it allows patrons to look down on all and sundry while sipping their drinks. There's a couple of welcome lounges up here, as well as a small corner bar complete with chandelier. Come nighttime the vibe transforms to chic and cosmopolitan as the young and beautiful of Fes come to drink and be seen, backed by a soundtrack of world lounge music. It's open daily from noon to 1am, and two-for-one drinks are on offer nightly from 6 to 8:30pm. For a refined, though expensive, after-dark drink, head to the Sofitel Palais Jamaï, Bab Guissa (tel. 0535/634331; www.sofitel.com). This 1879 former palace has a piano bar -- which actually has a piano -- and also offers glorious sweeping views over the medina. Come here for sunset.

Out in the ville nouvelle, the cafes surrounding place Mohammed V are always a good spot to watch the evening throngs. There are also a few male-only bars around here. The only other options for a drink are in the enclosed bars of some of the hotels, including Hotel Mounia and Hotel Splendid.

For evening pursuits of the cultural kind, contact the Arabic Language Institute in Fes (ALIF) and the American Language Center, 2 rue Ahmed Hiba, Ville Nouvelle (tel. 0535/624850; fax 0535/931608; www.alif-fes.com), to see if they have any upcoming events.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.