From desert camps and city riads to gazing on the Atlas peaks from your own hilltop infinity pool – these amazing locations are ideal for soaking up Morocco’s wonders…
Blink and you’ll miss this sumptuous coastal hotel, hidden in the sand dunes halfway between Essaouira and Casablanca. With its infinity pool, private seawater jacuzzis and a handful of luxurious bedrooms (complete with king-size beds and marble en suites), La Sultana Oualidia is a knockout. But the wow-factor lies in its location, overlooking wild Atlantic coast and wetlands. Here you can ride horses on the empty beaches, go birdwatching by kayak in the glistening lagoon and slurp delicious fresh oysters right from the sea. Bliss.
Bright, bold and a little bit bonkers: that’s how we’d describe Salut Maroc’s eye-popping style. From the flamboyant feature walls to the hand-stitched pillow cases, every inch of this property is covered in geometric patterns, intricate mosaics and a rainbow of colours – the handiwork of its British owner (and interior designer) Helen Howat. Somehow, in this 18th-century riad surrounded by Essaouira’s ancient medina, it all works perfectly. With a cosy rooftop restaurant, friendly service and Atlantic Ocean views, this is a great mini-break base.
The journey to Kasbah du Toubkal is an adventure in itself. Winding up, up and into the Atlas mountains by road, you’ll reach the rural village of Imlil, from where it’s a 15-minute hike to the hotel – your luggage can be transported by mule if you wish. At this hilltop citadel are luxurious bedrooms, lush gardens and a steamy hammam. The Kasbah is as sustainable as it is stylish, putting guests in touch with fantastic Berber guides, for treks into the surrounding mountains, and supporting local education, healthcare and more.
Far out in the Sahara Desert, a nine-hour drive from Marrakech, a cluster of billowing white tents appears on the horizon – surely a mirage? With its plush king-size beds, hot showers and four-course feasts of French-Moroccan cuisine (think tagines, soups and soufflés), Azalai Desert Camp is a weary traveller’s fantasy come true. By day, the desert is yours to explore by camel (with a guide and a tasty picnic to boot), before returning for a candlelit dinner, served in the dunes beneath a twinkling canopy of stars.
Just like a traditional Moroccan townhouse, Riad Africa is a city within a city: a self-contained oasis equipped with everything you could possibly wish for. With two swimming pools, opulent bedrooms and a deliciously breezy rooftop terrace, it’s a restorative retreat from the Marrakech crowds. You’ll want to spend a day (at least) reclining in the style of the monied merchants who once lived here: sipping mint tea in the courtyard, being henna-painted by a local artist, or learning the secret of the perfect tagine in the cookery school next door.
Tucked away in Fes medina, this tiny guesthouse has just four bedrooms – but oh, what bedrooms they are. Stuffed with bespoke hand-carved furniture, bright kilim rugs and the most opulent lanterns you’ll ever set eyes on, they showcase the best of Fes’s vibrant artisan traditions. Even the bathrooms are works of art, with their swirling mosaics and painted sinks. Book a tour of the medina and owners Violeta and Adil will introduce you to some of their favourite local artisans, so you can pick up a little treasure of your own to take back home.
Teetering on the edge of the Ourika Valley, between a thundering river and mighty Atlas peaks, Kasbah Bab Ourika feels like the edge of the world, and yet it’s only a 35-minute drive from Marrakech Airport. With its soaring limestone archways, dusty Berber antiques and flourishing jasmine-scented gardens, you’d never guess that this charming property is just 15 years old. But it has been sensitively designed, and the modern twists (such as floor-to-ceiling windows and private infinity pools) only add to its magic. A wild weekend retreat.
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