Domaine Malika

near Asni, High Atlas, Morocco Book from

Reviewed by Clemmy Manzo
Peaceful Franco-Moroccan retreat offering spectacular views, mountain walks and home-cooked meals from home-grown produce
Academy Award winning Casablanca meets 2003’s Babel at Domaine Malika. Set in the Ourigane Valley, about an hour south of Marrakech, the arid landscape is Berber territory (instantly recognisable from Babel’s Moroccan storyline); inside the hotel, a melange of Art Deco and Art Nouveau décor is a stylish nod to Bogart and Bergman’s movie classic Casablanca. Vintage film posters in every bedroom add to Domaine Malika’s cinematic quality.

With just 7 bedrooms, the hotel’s intimate setting enchants couples of all ages. By day, embark on romantic walks in the mountains; by night, star-gaze on the rooftop terrace or cosy up by the ornate fireplace in the living room, glass of wine in hand. Smooth jazz plays during candlelit dinners. The only other soundtrack during your stay will be the faint sing-song chants coming from the local mosque, and the tweets of the birds up above. Your sense of smell will also be seduced by the heady scent of almond trees, jasmine, white roses and lavender in the garden. As if all this wasn’t relaxing enough, there’s a hammam on site to prepare you for (or cure you from) the hustle and bustle of Marrakech: the city is just an hour away, but a whole world apart.

Highs

  • The welcome: ‘warm’ doesn’t cover it. Chatty French manager Paul and his team are genuinely delighted to see each guest and will happily organise tours and give advice
  • It's oh-so-quiet and still - the natural surroundings are the perfect remedy for the sights, sounds and smells of bustling Marrakech
  • Breath-taking views of the arid valley from your bedroom window, most of which have private balconies - honeymooners will love the super-private Junior Suite
  • Relaxing in the stylish black-and-white tiled pool with the Atlas Mountains as a backdrop, then enjoying a traditional hammam or more modern massage
  • A fantastic base from which to explore the mountains - the team can arrange anything from a simple map to a private guided hike or horse riding excursion

Lows

  • Those looking for nightlife are in the wrong place - the hotel is very peaceful and an hour away from Marrakech (but transfers are easily arranged)
  • The home-cooked food is wholesome rather than groundbreaking, and the service is a little overzealous: sometimes there wasn’t enough of a pause between courses
  • Although there's a restaurant on site, other options are few and far between; there’s only one other hotel restaurant that’s within easy walking distance
  • Best suited to couples: no kids under 12 are accepted, and singletons may feel a little left out

Best time to go

The Atlas Mountains boast 300 days of sunshine a year, but May and June are the best months: it’s hot enough to use the pool, order cocktails and waffles from the pool bar, and breakfast outside. During June-September, temperatures soar to 40C.

Our top tips

Take a hat and a bottle of water when hiking in the mountains, and if braving it alone, learn the French for ‘Which way to…?’. Villagers will point you in the right direction if you get a little lost.

Great for...

Eco
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • Over 12s only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Board games
Room:

Rooms

The Art Deco theme continues through the guest rooms, where 1970’s-style black-and-white bed rests and marble floors bring a touch of clean minimalism. You’ll find distinctive Moroccan touches too, such as the wooden safe cupboard made from antique Berber shutters, and a vintage armchair bought from Marrakech’s iconic 1920s hotel, La Mamounia. A fireplace in each room and a feature brick wall keep things cosy on colder nights. There’s a 30-inch plasma screen, but with views like these, you’re unlikely to be tempted by the TV. White curtains billow out as you open the large windows looking out onto the jaw-droppingly beautiful Ourigane Valley. Directly below is the garden, dotted with cacti and almond trees; you’ll just about make out the domed top of the local mosque in the background.

The 5 Premium Rooms are all equally gorgeous, each with their own private balcony or terrace looking out onto the spectacular Atlas Mountains. On a mezzanine level, the black-and-white tiled Moroccan bath and shower are big enough for 2 (and there’s a separate loo). Follow the private stairway with bamboo bannister to find the communal rooftop terrace or pool area. The Standard Room is much the same as the Premium Rooms, the main difference being that it doesn’t have any private outdoor space. Honeymooners might want to splash out on the one and only Junior Suite: it’s an entire first floor of loveliness, completely independent from the rest of the house with its own large lounge area and 2 private terraces.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Domaine Malika’s dedication to local produce and home cooking really shines through at breakfast. Sure, you have freshly baked pastries and bread, eggs however you want them and freshly squeezed orange juice…but the jams! Wonderful concoctions made on site from the garden’s organic bounty include green tomato, apricot and almond, prickly pear, grape and apple, and grapefruit and peach.

Dinner too is a labour of chef Hafida’s love. Using produce from the garden whenever possible, the daily dinner menu is written out on the chalkboard in the lobby and you’ll be asked in the morning whether you’re staying for dinner. Say yes (why drive elsewhere when you can relax in such peaceful surroundings?). There’s a Franco-Moroccan set menu, so do warn in advance if you’re a vegetarian. You might get a turnip and cumin soup for starters; your main dish could be ombrinette (fish) with orange and anis; and for dessert, hope for the crushed almond and dark chocolate mousse - it’s heavenly.

Lunch at the hotel can be arranged with prior warning, but you’re best breaking up a day’s hike with a lunch stop elsewhere. Choices range from all-out luxury at Kasbah Tamadot (part of the Branson collection) to visiting a traditional Berber home (accompanied by a tour guide). Our favourite lunch was a lemon chicken tagine by the pool at Chez Momo, about 1.5 hours’ walk from Domaine Malika (15 minutes in a taxi). A closer option is the 4-minute stroll to L’Oliveraie de Marigha, a lovely hotel and restaurant managed by the same French family as Domaine Malika.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity: Domaine Malika

Activities

  • Armed with a map from reception or accompanied by a local guide, set off on a 1-hour walk to the salt mines, or else head to the lake, passing Village Dar Tasar on the way (3 hours)
  • Get creative in the kitchen with chef Hafida: prepare your own dinner by booking the hotel’s Moroccan cooking class (2 people minimum)
  • Tuck into a traditional Moroccan lunch at a Berber family home, accompanied by a guide
  • Choose to travel by mule, mountain bike or 4x4 to the spectacular Ourigane Valley viewpoint at Tir First
  • Ask the hotel to arrange a guided horse-riding trip to the canyon via La Domaine de la Roseraie
  • Take a daytrip to Marrakech - transfers are easily arranged and there are myriad sites to see, plus you'll be returning to a true oasis
  • Exfoliate with local black soap paste at the hotel’s boutique hammam, or book in for a relaxing massage or facial (the spa is open Tuesday-Sunday)
  • Make like a Moroccan bride and get a henna tattoo by a local Berber lady in the comfort of your own room

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Well being

Kids

This is a peaceful retreat designed with adults in mind. As such, the hotel only accepts children aged 12 years or over and no extra beds are available.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},
Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for Domaine Malika