Tangier. My fave five.
(You can get the mother lode of things to do in any guidebook—these are my personal favorites.)
1. LE SALON BLEU
Rue de la Kasbah (entrance at 71 rue Amrah)
From the rooftop terrace of Le Salon Bleu (photo at top) is the stunning view over the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain. The charming restaurant is owned by the folks at Dar Nour Guesthouse. Follow the signs around the corner from Place de la Kasbah, then up the stairs to the labyrinth of rooms and terraces, all decorated in sublime shades of blue and chalky white.
They’re open all day, serving homemade Moroccan salads and hummus with pita, traditional chicken tagines and couscous, pastries with almonds and peaches with honey, and, of course, glasses of fresh-brewed mint tea.
2. RUMI 1436
45 rue Amrah
Rumi 1436 has found another use for the ubiquitous Moroccan tea glasses—scented soy wax candles. From the street you can see the myriad of fragrant candles displayed on the back wall of the tiny shop. The scents are all natural—about a hundred of them, from amber to frangipani to vetiver and everything in between.
The glasses are packaged in a fez-like velvet cylinder with a tassel dangling from the top. So—the best gift ever. (Not too big to tuck into a suitcase, either. I did.)
3. LAURE WELFLING
3, Place de la Kasbah
Like a bee to honey, I found myself peering into the soaring, filigreed windows of Laure Welfling’s store. Inside was an Aladdin’s cave of extraordinary treasures, designed and curated by the French designer and decorator who is the doyenne of Tangier.
I walked around four times, maybe five, seeing something new and magnificent on each additional loop. Boho-chic embroidered gowns, silky caftans, magnificent jewelry—all designed by Laure. Ceramic bowls and artwork are by her husband, artist “Gipi” de Richemont Salvy. With the help of Laure herself, I chose two blue and white striped tote bags with jaunty tassels. (One for me, one for a friend.)
Purchases are wrapped in tissue and sealed with a large sticker, emblazoned with this wondrous logo. I am obsessed—the sticker is tucked into the frame of a vintage mirror at home, where I can gaze at its awesomeness on a daily basis.
4. LAS CHICAS
52 rue Kacem Guenoun, Porte de la Kasbah
Just outside the main gate to the Kasbah is Las Chicas , a sprawling concept store filled with oh-so-cool contemporary products for your home and wardrobe from Moroccan designers.
There’s pillows and throws, lanterns and candles, tassels and t-shirts, jewelry and handbags and— well, you name it. It’s all fabulous. They also have a tea room / café if you’ve shopped ’til you’ve dropped.
5. Tea in the garden of EL MINZAH HOTEL
85, Rue de la Liberté
The clamour and chaos of Tangier can give you a case of sensory overload. When you need respite, head to the elegant El Minzah Hotel for a glass of mint tea in the garden.
British aristocrat John Crichton-Stuart, aka Lord Bute, built the 5* El Minzah Hotel in 1930. Since that time, it’s been a favorite of dignitaries and Hollywood stars—Winston Churchill, Rita Hayworth, Rock Hudson, and Jacques Cousteau, to name a few. Writer and renowned Tangier resident, Paul Bowles, lived there until he put down roots. The luxurious El Minzah Hotel is in the heart of town, a stone’s throw from the Medina. The photo ops alone are worth the visit.
For other Tangier recommendations, see my Sourcebook.