5 Fabulous Places to Stay in Tangier and Where To Visit - The Gloss Magazine

5 Fabulous Places to Stay in Tangier and Where To Visit

If Tangier isn’t on your bucket list yet – it sure will be after this…

Tangier has always attracted cosmopolitan travellers, from the Rolling Stones, to artists Francis Bacon and Henri Matisse, writers Jack Kerouac and Truman Capote, as well as interior designers Robert Kime and Veere Grenney and the legendary fashion duo of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. The classic film Casablanca was actually written about Tangier while the Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton bought a palace in the city during the 1940s where she entertained on a lavish scale, dressed in glittering kaftans.

It’s no wonder socialites and aesthetes have been drawn to Tangier’s white-washed elegance – there is much to savour there including its historic palaces, colonial villas, buzzy medina and impressive history. It’s been held by the Phoenicians, Portuguese, Middle Eastern caliphates, Spanish, British, and French before becoming the Moroccan sultanate’s diplomatic centre in the late 19th century.

Its inhabitants – the Tanjawi or Tangerines – often speak a trio of languages: Darija (Moroccan Arabic), French and Spanish. Indeed, on a fine day visitors can see Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar; there are seven ferry routes for one-day trips to Tarifa.

In the last decade, King Mohammad VI has transformed Tangier with numerous renovation projects, including a high-speed rail link to Casablanca, a new marina and a quieter medina and souk (good buys include slippers, rugs and pottery).

Before you travel, peruse Milanese designer Nicolò Castellini-Baldissera’s book Inside Tangier: Houses & Gardens, Vendome Press, which catalogues the colourful homes of the city’s creatives. These are filled with interesting objets sourced in the city’s boutiques. If visiting, shop at Las Chicas concept store for jewellery, slippers and fashion collections. Pick up kaftans and brocade dresses from fashion designer Kenza Bennani in his New Tangier store and for Ikat jackets and hand-painted denim, the Kasbah Collective is a must visit.

Villa Mabrouka

The former home of designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé,  now a chic hotel owned by designer and hotelier Jasper Conran, has arguably been responsible for the renewed interest in Tangier as a destination. Conran renovated the villa but took cues from Saint Laurent’s original intention that it reflected the beauty and elegance of his childhood home in the 1940s. Conran explains: “It is glamorous in its purity and simplicity. Comfortable and handsome, imbued with a European style compared to the ancient Moroccan mood of my Marrakech hotel and its history as a riad.” Villa Mabrouka (which means “blessed” in Arabic) has twelve immaculate room and suites, overseen by a staff of 88 (to 24 guests at full capacity!). Should you wish to leave the Villa, it’s a short stroll to the new Museum of Contemporary Art. www.villamabrouka.com

La Maison de Tanger

Owned by French hotelier Vincent Brochot, La Maison de Tanger is a celebration of Art Deco glamour – think gorgeous tiling, whimsical artefacts, lush gardens with orange trees and a pretty jade-green tiled pool. The hotel comprises five rooms and three suites – all are spacious, with access to a private terrace or balcony. It’s a short walk to the Grand Socco – a palm-ringed plaza with a central fountain which also serves as the entrance to the medina. www.lamaisondetanger.com

Dar Nour

If you want to be in the heart of Tangier, this guesthouse is located in the medina, hidden among white-washed streets framed with bougainvillea. The bohemian vibe has been carefully curated by its French owners with colour and creativity. (They often host spontaneous music sessions and poetry readings). Rooms are bright and breezy and the breakfast buffet is a highlight. Its rooftop terrace has a great view of the beach and the Spanish Cathedral, while the first floor lounge is the best place for aperitifs (the ginger gin is renowned) before dinner, perhaps, in the hotel’s sister property Le Salon Bleu. It’s a short walk to the recently renovated Kasbah Museum of Mediterranean Cultures (where highlights are its mosaics of Venus and giant replica maps) and the famous Café Baba, where Keith Richards loved to hang out drinking tea and smoking marijuana in the 1960s. www.darnour.com

La Maison Blanche

Owner Aziz Beghouri spent six years restoring this riad in the old kasbah which dates from the 14th century. He collaborated with French interior designer Regis Milcent who decorated the property with flair and colour. Each of the nine rooms is inspired and named after important characters linked to the city, from artist Henri Matisse (whose painting “View to Tangier” inspired a blue and white palette) and the writer and composer Paul Bowles, who lived in Tangier for over 50 years with his wife Jane. It was here that he wrote his most famous novel set in Morocco, The Sheltering Sky; Bowles had a cameo role in Bertolucci’s film adaptation of the book. Guests have stunning views across the city to the sea from the hotel’s roof terrace, while other highlights include a proper Moroccan tea service. www.lamaisonblanchetanger.com

Villa Josephine

This ten-room country house is near the King’s Palace, in the west of the city and provides a serene escape from the centre’s hustle and bustle. The villa, originally built in the 1920s, belonged to English journalist Walter Harris, a former columnist for The Times (who allegedly inspired the character of Indiana Jones!). The rooms and palm-fringed garden pool feel like a film set. www.hotel-josephine.com

Casa Tosca

This is the home of Milanese designer Nicolò Castellini-Baldissera, who has written Inside Tangier: Houses & Gardens, Vendome Press and launched a chic rattan furniture collection. It’s a posh townhouse filled with antiques and boasts a rooftop pool and hammam and terraced gardens. It can been booked exclusively via Nicolò’s Instagram: @nicolocastellinibaldissera.


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