We decided to stay at the continental hotel in Tangier (one of my friends is very fond of reading and history, and for him staying at the hotel was an unavoidable option) and “his suggestion” seemed to me a good opportunity to talk about it. We also have an in-depth post about Tangier in case you’re planning a visit.
Brief Introduction To Tangier
I don’t think you can understand what the Continental Hotel is, and why it is famous, without talking a little bit about Tangier. To give you an idea, you have to understand that in the middle of the last century it was one of the most cosmopolitan cities par excellence, in the same way that today we could mention New York, London or Barcelona.
In 1925 it was declared an international city, which meant that many countries (France, Spain, Great Britain, etc.) participated in the order of the city, even contributing their own bank and currency. Imagine the revolution that this produced, for cultural and economic purposes.
If we add to this the fact that the famous painter Eugène Delacroix promoted it as one of the only cities where the vestiges of ancient civilisations could still be appreciated, we have all the ingredients for the city to become an obligatory stop for artists, millionaires and the curious in general.
In that sense, the Hotel Continental was one of its greatest signs of identity (and perennial image in all the artistic productions that tried to capture the essence of the city). If during that time Tangier was famous for arousing the interest of writers like William Burroughs, painters like Henri Matisse or even musicians like the Rolling Stones, the hotel could not be less, and that is why among its guests we can count on writers of the stature of Pio Baroja or politicians like Winston Churchill.
How To Get To The Hotel
The location of the hotel is enviable: in the heart of the old town and next to the medina, specifically in the area overlooking the sea. If we arrive by boat, it will be extremely easy to get there (and, moreover, if we are smart, we will be able to see it when we land): as soon as we leave the port, we will turn left and, after a few metres, on the opposite pavement, we will see an open space that is usually used as a parking lot; the hotel is just behind it (and on top of it)
If you ever enter the hotel you may be overcome by a contradictory feeling, the product of the pleasure of observing a living museum and, at the same time, not having all the comforts and advantages that we could ask from a hotel today. And that is due to its two main characteristics, one good and the other bad. The good one is that it is preserved practically as it was before; the bad one, that it is preserved practically as it was before.
Upon entering the hotel we will find the spacious lobby and the reception area below. And this is the one we can understand as the main point of the hotel, since the rest of the spaces stop and are structured around it.
The common areas are very well preserved, and represent a pleasure for the eye: colorful decoration, colonial style furniture, the meticulous work with the mosaics, even the addition of some Arab relics; I think it is impossible not to have the feeling of having made a trip back in time by observing it. Among its spaces we can highlight its restaurant and cafeteria, and even has a bazaar where you can buy some handmade products.
While keeping the building in its glory may do a favor to the common spaces, when it comes to the rooms, it is certainly a more debatable decision.
So as not to go into too much detail, I can tell you that the general impression is that, although they have a certain charm and are very spacious, it gives the impression that they are asking for some change. It is as if time had proved the common areas right but not the rooms.
The question can vary somewhat if you access the renovated part, in which there are some changes, such as having installed air conditioning and some additional small reforms. But, in general terms, the change with respect to the original ones will not be radical.
In my opinion, this is a hotel that belongs to the memory of Tangier, which is therefore worth visiting, and it is impossible not to be amazed by the decoration of its common areas. But, on the other hand, I cannot help thinking that some reform that did not break its identity would not be bad for it, especially in the rooms.
As for the rest, I assure you that you will be delighted; firstly, by its enviable location on the northern wall of the beautiful Tangier medina, behind the dar Barud district and facing the sea; secondly, by its staff and breakfast service; and thirdly, as I have already stressed before, by its status as a living museum, especially as regards the common areas. And it goes without saying that you get the feeling that you are sleeping where other important people have slept before.
So much for today’s entry on the Hotel Continental in Tangier; I hope it has resolved any doubts you may have about it.