established in 2002
Dar Roumana was built by the Arfaouis, a family of olive oil merchants, in the late 1800s. It was home to several generations and even their livestock - in fact, the interior courtyard was not tiled until the marriage of the eldest daughter in 1923, prior to that it was home to donkeys and chickens. The property was known as Dar Arfaoui until we began restoration in 2002. "Dar Roumana" means "house of the pomegranate", an homage to the large pomegranate trees that once lined the alleys decades ago and gave the neighborhood its name: Zkak Roumane. A few of these trees can still be seen draping over the walls of the neighboring property.
When Jen began renovations, there were fewer than 20 riads or guesthouses in the medina (today there are 200+) and few craftsmen capable of undertaking a major restoration. Jen undertook much of the restoration of the beautifully sculpted cedar doors herself. She was one of the youngest entrepreneurs and the first American to open a guesthouse in the Fez medina, a story that aroused the interest of CNN who featured Dar Roumana in their series "Design 360" in October 2004. Be sure to check out the album of renovation photos and designs on the coffee table in the library and read a more detailed account of the restoration!
The restoration took rather longer than anticipated, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever done a even a minor domestic re-model, but the first guests arrived in late 2005. Decor was minimal, dinner service was limited, and only 3 of the 5 rooms were finished. Jen lived on-site in one of the unfinished rooms until the official opening of all 5 rooms in 2007. At that point, there were only 4 staff: the 3 housekeepers who are still employed with us today, and one porter. Over the next years, a series of foreign management couples brought fresh ideas and skills to the dar as we expanded the restaurant business and upgraded the property.
Ten years later in 2017, on the departure of managers Vincent and Vanessa Bonnin, the entire team decided that they were ready for the challenge and voted to promote our Moroccan staff to fill all management roles. To celebrate this new chapter, the property underwent a yet another major renovation to freshen the look and reflect the characters of the Moroccan team. In many respects, Dar Roumana is as much their home as it is mine.
We look forward to your stay.