Having stepped off the plane at Marrakech airport, there’s every chance you might feel overwhelmed by the energy and excitement of the city (and even more so if you’ve stayed a couple of days in this cultural capital). The only answer, we think, is making sure you fit in some down time to compliment the madness of the medina.
Providing the perfect place for doing not much at all is Kasbah Bab Ourika; a beautifully restored country home proudly perched on top of a hill in the Atlas Mountains, just an hour’s drive from Marrakech. The views from every angle are awesome – in the true sense of the word – and showcase the ground’s vibrant red earth and the surprisingly lush vegetation which incredibly grows from the dusty ground.
The hotel itself is a careful blend of muted Moroccan colours and eclectic European decorations that seamlessly blend for a modern but timeless feel. Thick Berber rugs cover the floor and beds are strewn with handmade throws and plump cushions, while doors are heavy, hand-carved archways. If you manage to bag a garden room at the edge of the property your space will include a writing desk with vistas guaranteed to inspire creativity (the perfect place to write a book, perhaps?), a lounge with an open fire that the friendly team will light for you come the colder months, and a terrace complete with loungers for private sunbathing should the walk to the pool all get too much.
During the day you may have the tough choice of which area to plump for to read a book, listen to a podcast or just stare into the distance – there are sofas, sunbeds, benches, swimming pools, fountains and more to pick from. However, if the idea of lazing around on holiday fills you with dread, there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied. Anything from market tours to all-day hikes can be organised through the hotel’s concierge service.
Being somewhat stranded at the hotel (a punishment we accepted nobly), your food options are mostly limited to the onsite restaurant’s offering. Breakfast is a buffet-style affair that offers up spicy Berber eggs and rich and buttery local breads as well as all the usual continental favourites, while lunchtime brings a handful of choices to enjoy from one of the outdoor spots throughout the property, overlooking the dramatic hillside scenes. Dinner is candlelit and pretty as a picture, served in the main house’s courtyard space that is dotted with orange trees, lanterns and clusters of vases filled with olive branches that have been collected from around the property. Much of the food on the menu in the evening has been grown at the hotel in the small but perfectly formed veg patch you may have wandered through earlier, or is sourced locally. Tagines, of course, are a speciality with fruity hits coming from sweet and sour quince, and rich combinations of spice making for a moreish meal. If you’ve tired yourself out on local cuisine, there are usually a couple of other choices – like simply cooked fish or a pasta dish for instance.
There’s a synergy here which helps the whole place feel like it has a dreamy flow to it, everything is connected and has its place in the setup of such an idyllic spot. Adding to this sense of calm, in 2020 the hotel will expand to offer up a dedicated yoga retreat space where guests will be able to enjoy the quiet mountain surrounds from a cluster of rooms just down the hillside from the main house.
Kasbah Bab Ourika allows an escape from modern life, helping to reinstate appreciation for simple pleasures as you watch the sun rise and fall, and respond to little else apart from your own hunger and what time might be good to take a nap. It’s luxuries but laidback, and everything has been thought of to allow you to completely switch off – here you have no responsibility.
Rooms at Kasbah Bab Ourika start at £128 per night and include breakfast and afternoon tea (mint tea, of course, and a selection of biscuits if you’re asking).