Offering a tantalising blend of Africa, Arabia and Europe, yet only 4 hours from London, there are few places more evocative than Morocco.
Modern and traditional, ancient and new, Morocco offers epic landscapes, rich history and a lively culture. From sun-baked Kasbahs shimmering in the desert heat to ancient medinas crammed with exotic sounds and smells, Morocco will take you to a different world. Our tailor-made holidays in Morocco will give you the chance to haggle your way through the souks of Marrakech or Fes before rejuvenating in the fresh Atlantic breezes of Essaouria.
Hiking in the Atlas Mountains will give you a taste of traditional village life and the crumbling, mud-brick walls of Ouarzazate and Kasbahs in Todra and Dades Gorge will take you back in time. For the ultimate desert experience spend a night in the Sahara itself, where space and stars defy belief. Our favourite riads, kasbahs, boutique hotels and desert camps in Morocco ooze traditional and authentic charm without forgoing luxury or comfort.
THE S&A TO DO LIST
- Experience the thrill of drifting silently over beautiful rural landscapes surrounding Marrakech in a hot air balloon
- If you don't have time to make it to the Sahara, spend a night at Scarabeo Camp in the Agafay Desert, a barren but stunning wilderness only 40km from Marrakech, overlooked by the jagged peaks of the High Atlas
- Take a half-day cooking course at La Maison Arabe and learn to cook an authentic tagine
Riad Kniza in Marrakech has long been a favourite - the riad has been carefully maintained by the same family for centuries and is a haven of calm located right in the centre of town. For a more stylish and contemporary riad, consider Riad Farnatchi, once a private home it is perfectly laid out for the ultimate house party with just 10 sumptuous suites and a fabulous in-house spa. For an intimate hotel stay look no further than Villa des Orangers, a 27-bedroom Relais & Chateaux property in the heart of the Medina, with the feel of a riad but the facilities of a five-star hotel just 10 minutes stroll from Djemaa el-Fna Square. Or to perfect your Middle Eastern cooking skills, La Maison Arabe offers guests seriously fun cooking classes, alongside a heated pool and one of Marrakech’s finest hammams. To escape the hustle and bustle of the medina Dar Zemora is a country-style house that sits peacefully amongst tranquil gardens in the Palmeraie. In Fes, there could be no better host than Stephen Direnza who has lovingly restored the intimate 3 bedroom Riad Numero 9 in the heart of the medina, or for something more luxurious, Karawan Riad with its 7 beautifully decorated rooms, restaurant and hammam. For a choice of both traditional and modern rooms, we recommend the nearby Riad Fes, which prides itself on a very high level of service, and an excellent restaurant.
The Royal Mansour is in our opinion the most luxurious hotel in Morocco. It is said to have taken 1,000 Moroccan craftsmen 3.5 years to build from the ground up and now stands as a breath-taking tribute to Moroccan style, design, and tradition. Tucked within the city walls, the 3.5-hectare site has been contrived as a sort of medina-within-the-medina, an estate of 53 two-storey riads, each individually decorated and serviced via a network of subterranean tunnels. In addition to at least one bedroom, sitting room and roof top terrace with pool, many of the riads have their own dining rooms for guests who seek completely privacy. If you’d rather escape the city altogether then Richard Brandson’s retreat, Kasbah Tamadot, is the place to go for luxury living in the Atlas Mountains.The hilltop setting is unrivalled and one of North Africa’s finest: views encompass a forested river valley and snow-capped peaks with Marrakech only an hour’s drive away. Each of the 28 rooms, suites and Berber tents have been individually decorated featuring antiques from across the world. Kasbah Tamadot is the perfect destination in both winter and summer - its cosy bar and library have roaring fires in the colder months while come summer, the fragrant gardens come into their own.
Kasbah Bab Ourika is an authentic mountain retreat constructed with traditional Berber rammed mud walls and offering breathtaking views from its hilltop perch in the Atlas Mountains. The Kasbah are happy to help organise any excursions for sightseeing, farm, market and village visits, trips to Marrakech, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, rafting, canoeing or riding and can even arrange skiing 40 minutes' drive away in the Atlas Mountains. After a busy day of exploring guests can return to delicious home-grown food direct from the most beautiful vegetable garden we’ve ever seen. Further south across the Atlas nestled in the Skoura oasis around four hour’s drive from Marrakech is a stunning 19th Century Kasbah, Dar Ahlam - translated as ‘House of Dreams’. Dar Ahlam's isolation is central to its philosophy of peace and privacy, you really do feel like you are in another world entirely and blissfully there are no TVs in the rooms. A stay here includes exclusive 4×4 excursions with your private guide and driver, camel riding, special gala dinners and a cookery class – you can even continue your adventure in a private Bedouin-style tent set up in the heart of the desert.
Situated among ancient palm groves, Dar Zemora is a peaceful paradise just three miles from Marrakech’s city centre. With a wonderfully inviting swimming pool set in three acres of rose-filled gardens, bursting with a cornucopia of palm trees, colourful bougainvillea, bamboo, fruit and olive trees, you can always find a quiet spot to catch up on your reading or snooze in the sunshine. All the rooms are lovely, but we particularly like the Perla Suite which is light, bright and has a huge roof terrace where you can catch the sun in private. Further afield, the Capaldi Hotel is owned, run and managed by the lovely Tara and Ed, both from property/design backgrounds in the UK. This place is a true retreat (no children under 12 years allowed) set in the grounds of a four-hectare former olive farm in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, a 45-minute drive from Marrakech. There’s a large heated pool, a good-sized spa for hammams and the hotel can organise a guide to take you walking in the mountains. The rooms are spacious and done very stylishly in neutral tones – not typically Moroccan but clean, fresh and relaxing – and those at the front of the main house have the best views of the Atlas Mountains. Alternatively those looking for a sea breeze and the sand between their toes should head to Morocco’s Atlantic coast where L’heure Bleue with its fabuous roof top pool is our top pick in Essaouira, or La Sultana Oualidia a tranquil retreat located on a quiet and sheltered lagoon near the pretty fishing village of Oualidia, where guests can try their hand at surfing or simply sit back, enjoy the heavenly in-house spa and dine on fresh oysters a-plenty.
Looking to extend your trip?
Morocco tends to work as a stand-alone destination thanks to the variety of terrain and experiences it offers...