The City

Tangiers is a historic coastal city, just 18km from the south coast of Spain, and easily reachable by ferry (45 minutes).

It is famous for its literary and artistic heritage – in the first half of the 20th century, while Tangiers was an International Zone and not subject to international law (1923-1956), many famous writers and artists lived in, or visited, the city, including Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Henri Matisse, Jack Kerouac and William Ginsberg.

La Maison Blanche is located in the most historic and interesting part of Tangiers: the Kasbah, or old citadel. This is the fortified upper part of the medina, or old city, and is situated at the top of the hill looking over the port.

The riad is very easy to find: you enter the Kasbah through the main gate, Bab Kasbah, at the top of the hill, and the riad is in the first street on the right, Rue Ahmed Ben Ajiba. Note that the narrow street is for pedestrians only; limited parking is available inside the Kasbah walls.

Staying in such an atmospheric and ancient part of the city offers visitors a unique experience – step outside the door and you are immediately plunged into the life of this ancient fortress, with its distinctive Arabic music, shouts of children playing, and tradesmen negotiating the narrow streets with their wares.

It’s a short walk through the winding streets, lined with doors of every possible colour and design, ceramic workshops, and mosques, to the Kasbah’s main plaza, which has an archway, Bab Bhar, offering spectacular views down to the sea. Local monuments include the Kasbah Museum of Antiquities, housed in the 17th-century Sultan’s Palace, Dar el Makhzen.

You can also follow the Matisse walking route, which takes you past buildings and views painted by the French artist.

From here it’s a short walk to the Bab el Assa gate (painted by Matisse), which leads into the main part of the medina, and down the maze of tiny streets to the souks, or markets. On the way, you can see Barbara Hutton’s palace, Sidi Hosni, and stop for a mint tea at the Café Baba, frequented by the Rolling Stones.

Just steps away from the riad is one of the city’s most fashionable nightspots, the Morocco Club, with its chic basement bar and fashionable upstairs restaurant. Tangiers has a large international community, giving it cosmopolitan, sophisticated feel, left over from the hedonistic days of the International Zone in the 1950s and 1960s. This provides a fascinating contrast with the centuries-old Arabic architecture.