If you haven't visited Morocco yet, you should go. It has everything: fantastic history, culture, people, and of course, there is always Casablanca. For me, the hotels alone are worth a trip. My recent travels in Morocco included a number of great hotels throughout the country. For the majority of my stay, I was in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, located in the northwestern part of the country. I was lucky to stay in the luxurious Rabat Hilton, complete with pool, business center, numerous restaurants, and a belly dancer or two.

The lobby is comfortable, gorgeous and huge. Most rooms offer incredible views from individual balconies and beds that will make you sleep "“ after a long day of meetings or sitting in the sun on the beach, beds like these are priceless to a successful holiday. The Rabat Hilton serves delicious food at all of its restaurants, my first recommendation being the Dar al Andalous Restaurant. Low lighting, live music, and belly dancers add to the flare of the atmosphere, and the delicious Moroccan food never stops coming. A meal here was a perfect way for me to end a night in Rabat "“ luckily my room was just a few floors away. For those looking for a quick buffet brunch or perhaps a sandwich for lunch, stop in at La Terrazza or Les Palmiers. Both host relaxed atmospheres. Diners can sit for hours and chit-chat or get take-out before continuing their holiday. The service is impeccable; the entire hotel staff is helpful and loves to hear a story if you have a few extra moments to spare.

Lucky are those who have the opportunity to overnight in Fes. The city has recently begun turning gorgeous old homes into guesthouses "“ these are the guesthouses I enjoyed. Originally homes to wealthy Moroccans, many include enormous living rooms with comfortable couches, detailed mosaic tiling covering the walls and pillars (yes, pillars!), gorgeous handmade carpets, and a burst of history that cannot be found in any name-brand hotel. I stayed at the La Maison Bleue. Located in the heart of the Medina (the center of town), La Maison Bleue dates back to 1915 when it was built as a family palace by the famous judge and astrologer, Sidi Mohammed El Abbadi. Now run by his grandchildren, they have kept history alive. When I walked through the doors into a palace, I found that one glance was not enough to satisfy the desires of my eyes. I kept spinning and spinning again, striving to take in all of the grandeur that surrounded me. The palace includes three Moroccan saloons, an exquisite library, a canopy bed for the princesses in the family, and a rooftop terrace overlooking the perfectly white city of Fes. I knew I had a great place before I left the guesthouse. If you do happen to take some time away from La Maison Bleue, try to stop by Dar Sefrioui for lunch. Another old home turned into a palace for guests. Dar Sefrioui defines good dining. Visitors will find themselves around a table, Moroccan style – some in cushy booths, others on pillows "“ and you will eat some of the most delectable foods in the world. After a belly is full, and a certainty that life cannot get any better, take a walk through the house to the mosaic fountain amidst the beautiful garden. It will not be time wasted.

While in Morocco, do not make the mistake of skipping the Western Sahara. A different world exists there "“ fascinating and changing. Go to Laayoune for any jewelry purchases there. It is the best place to buy handmade silver jewelry in the entire country. Shops line the street, all of them filled with stunning necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings. If you speak the right language, you can barter with the shopkeeper "“ the price is right regardless. I stayed in room 122 at the Parador Hotel, a small hotel with gorgeous photographs lining the walls depicting the historical Green March of the Moroccans into the Western Sahara. Each room has a quaint, private balcony overlooking the courtyard full of trees and colorful birds. The fresh breeze drifts across the balcony and into the room while you are falling asleep or simply relaxing. If you're lucky, you will hear the call to prayer while sitting in such peace; it gave me chills. My day at the Parador Hotel, I was both. The restaurant on the first floor serves a delicious breakfast with wonderful coffee and hot milk. Everything about this hotel is clean, and the staff is extremely accommodating and helpful to travelers. A personal tip: the pillows are kept in the closet.

For more information about the Rabat Hilton, www.hilton.com/en/hi/hotels/index.jhtml?ctyhocn=RBAHITW

For rates and reservations: www.maisonbleue.com

For more information, please contact me at kswemerge@yahoo.com.

Rue Okba Ibn Nafia B.P 189
Phone: 48 89 45 00

Written and photography by Thembeka
Morocco at ITKT