Morocco Travel Guide: Places to Stay
We select some of the most exceptional places to stay in Morocco
Remaining wonderfully tethered to its nomadic roots, Morocco is one of the most mystical and gorgeous destinations that let travellers escape from the fast-pace and pressure from modern day cities. Below we give you our recommended places to stay when in Morocco.
Dar Ahlam, a boutique hotel with nine rooms and three villas, is also rightfully known as Maison des Rêves or House of Dreams.
Renowned Parisian party planner Thierry Teyssier lovingly restored the 19th-century kasbah nearly a decade ago. Since then, the Relais and Châteaux property has won over a raft of repeat guests. Hundred-year-old olive trees surround an ochre-hued three-storey towered castle, and within these straw and mud walls is a mysterious, sweet-smelling interior full of delightful nooks and crannies.
This is an environment that is salubrious for the soul – there are no TVs, telephones, not even a mini bar. With the same attitude, there are no locks on the doors. Led by innkeeper Fabien Guilluy, the staff is discreet, intuitive and expert at keeping guests well-fed and watered. Further afield, on the shifting margins of the Sahara desert, the Dar Ahlam staff set up a Berber encampment for two that comes complete with carpets, candlelight and a front-row seat for one of the most spectacular sunsets you’ll ever see.
?If deserts aren’t your idea of divine, then head for the hills. Richard Branson’s retreat in the High Atlas Mountains is an hour away from Marrakech. Kasbah Tamadot is a 24-suite kasbah. Huge heavy wooden doors guard its entrance, and hidden behind the high walls is a secret domain of charming courtyards, gardens blooming with roses, quaint terraces, staircases and grand – almost colonial – common spaces.
Perched on a precipice, Tamadot boasts jaw-slackening vistas of the Asni valley and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. From burnt sienna to bright crimson, before your very eyes is the full patina of Morocco’s geology in all its glory. Enjoy the soul-rinsing space with a hot air balloon ride or a guided hike in the surrounding hills. There’s also plenty on offer within the walls of Tamadot, including tennis courts, a lap pool and a library packed full of classics and with a roaring log fire. Not to be missed is Kasbah Tamadot’s signature spa treatment: the hammam scrub, a local Berber family tradition. For an hour, you are doused with buckets of water, lathered with argan oil soap and runny mud and scrubbed with an abrasive mitt. Then watch the dead skin and dirt come off before your eyes.
Over 90 per cent of the staff at Tamadot are hired from local villages. They serve as a link to the area’s culture and history. The hotel supports a local co-operative producing handicrafts and textiles, and guests are invited to visit the communities. This approach show how guests in a luxury resort can soak up the local way of life, even during a short visit.
No trip to Morocco would be complete without time in the pink-hued city of Marrakech. And our recommended place to stay in the capital would be the grand-dame hotel, La Mamounia. Throughout the 20th century, the famed and fortuned have been coming here, drawn to the city’s exoticism and the hotel’s privacy. Dignitaries have included Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt and Charlie Chaplin.
A few years ago, La Mamounia was feeling its age thus French architect and tastemaker extraordinaire, Jacques Garcia, who was behind the much-lauded interiors of Hotel Costes in Paris, was brought in to renovate the hotel.
Three years and US$180 million later, the heavy, garish and tired interiors are gone. In their place, a sophisticated and opulent new look featuring mosaics, marble and bold colours dominates the public spaces. Injecting a welcome Moorish flavour, Garcia uses the talents of local artisans to furnish the 209 rooms. From the lush velvet upholstery in jewel tones and studded leather headboard to the cover of the TV remote, everything comes in the hotel’s signature orange hue.
World-renowned perfumer Olivia Giacobetti was called in to scent the air and prepare the potions and shampoos for the rooms Elsewhere, an expansive spa complex that could house a harem features an underground series of hammams, pools and treatment rooms. The hotel also boasts four restaurants and five bars, including world-class cuisine served by French chef Jean-Pierre Vigato and Alfonso Iaccarino from Italy.
The article is adapted from Hong Kong Tatler’s October 2011 issue for online.