Kasbah Bab Ourika

Ourika Valley, High Atlas, Morocco Book from Book from £135 per night

Lord over the Atlas at this coolest of kasbahs at the head of the Ourika Valley
Few are the settings to match Kasbah Bab Ourika's hilltop perch. To the north the jagged peaks of the Atlas rise sheer above the bled, to the east the fantastic forms of the Salt Natural Park's hills change hue with each passing hour, whilst to the west the lush terraces of the Ourika valley cut a sabre of green across an otherwise mineral landscape. This is a breathtakingly beautiful part of the Maghreb.

When it came to the kasbah's creation - it was the brainchild of a well-heeled English gent' - the ornate style of so many Marrakechi riads was eschewed in favour of a traditional build. Walls were made of rammed earth, floors of natural coloured beijmat and furnishings of Berber fabrics in muted shades of cream, brown and beige. The result is a series of living spaces which feel intimate, deeply restful and spoilingly comfortable. Bedrooms are big enough to stage your own fantasia and all have fine linens and private terraces.

Come to dine beneath unpolluted night skies, lie by the sparkling pool, revel in the romance and live your own chapter of The Morocco That Was.

Highs

  • A beautiful mountain getaway yet you're just 40 minutes from the maelström of Marrakech
  • Excellent hiking on your doorstep and Bab Ourika has its own guides
  • Masses of intimate corners throughout the kasbah and gardens: it's perfect for romantic R&R
  • Lifts you high above the mundane: gazing out at those amazing wraparound views means you'll forget the bank statements, daily commute and reality TV
  • Admirable eco credentials, and very supportive of its surrounding Berber villages

Lows

  • The chances are you won't meet the owner, but you'll be well cared for by manager Damien Mazet and the friendly team of Berber staff
  • Arrival is via a bumpy track which cuts through the narrow streets of a Berber village: all part of the adventure
  • A hefty wadge of dirhams if you stay for several nights - but why not just buy one less carpet?
  • The hotel has its own shop where you can buy locally made rugs and artefacts, but you’ll pay much more here than in the souks
  • WiFi is unreliable and only works in some communal areas, meaning there’s no WiFi in the rooms

Best time to go

Any time of year would be a good time to stay at Bab Ourika, even mid summer: the kasbah's 900m elevation makes it several degrees cooler than Marrakech and massively thick outer walls ensure that things stay cool on the inside.

The Ourika valley looks stunning at any time of year, perhaps most so in spring when the first shoots cloak the terraced hillsides in delicate hues of green. And to see the Atlas mountains blanketed in snow on a clear winter's day - this is a great time to trek - is bound to be a highlight of your journey.

Our top tips

Set time aside for visiting the Ourika valley and the waterfalls at Setti-Fatma: you'll need to hike for about 2 hours if you want to see all 7 of them.

Great for...

Eco
Great Outdoors
Romantic
Spa
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 26
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • Children welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Steam Room
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Garden Deluxe

Rooms

Rooms are big, high-ceilinged spaces which take their cue from the clean-cut, organic lines of Berber architecture. Most have open tadelakt hearths, whilst thick pisé walls ensure there's no need for air-con, even during the summer.

Although some Deluxe Rooms have terraces, the Suites in the main house offer guaranteed outdoor space (as do most of those in the garden), as well as big dressing rooms and huge bathrooms; some with sunken tubs and from Room 12's raised tub you have soaring views of the National Park. We also love the vast Deluxe Suite, between the kasbah's twin towers, with its enormous terrace, walk-in dressing room and a vaulted bathroom (this also doubles up as the Family Suite).

We’re yet to personally see inside the Panoramic Pool Suite (which drinks up jaw-dropping views and has its own pool), plus Garden Pool Suite and 2-bedroom Garden Deluxe Suite, both of which have cosy sitting rooms with fireplaces and private terraces. The 2-bedroom Private Pool Villa is good for couples or a family with a teenager.

Beneath petal-strewn, pom-pommed blankets, top spec' mattresses, fine linens and orthopaedic pillows await, but don’t expect much in the way of electrical gizmos - these would feel out of synch here. In the bathrooms, big tubs (some of the sunken variety) and/or walk-in rain showers complement buff-coloured marble, heated towel rails, natural soaps and gels, and humongous fluffy bathrobes.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The restaurant aims to showcase the finest traditions of Berber cuisine whilst always offering some kind of European alternative. Locally sourced produce is a cornerstone of all dishes, and much of it is grown in the hotel’s gorgeous organic gardens - including one the finest vegetable patches we’ve ever seen!

Dinner more than lived up to expectations. A starter of roasted beetroot, rocket, feta, walnuts, mint, sherry and vinaigrette was followed by a scrummy sweet and spicy beef makfoul whilst the fresh fruit salad with raspberry sorbet was a perfect foil to the rich flavours of the main course.

It's worth noting that when we revisited in 2018, the more western-style dishes weren't as good as the Moroccan choices, and some of the evening meals were quite underwhelming compared to an excellent selection of light lunches in the shape of soups and salads.

Bab Ourika's cosy bar offers a choice of Morocco's best wines and there's French champagne on ice if you're in a celebratory mood, a fire will be burning in the colder months. If you're dining beneath the stars it will be hard to drag yourself away from the extraordinary Atlas panoramas.

The breakfasts also showcase local produce: fruits from the gardens, freshly baked bread and pancakes piping hot from the kasbah's oven and we loved the 'Berber style' omelettes with fresh tomato and onion.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the northern flank of the Atlas on foot, horse back or mountain bike: the kasbah has its own trusted guides and trails lead straight out from the hotel, through local Berber villages if you wish
  • Spend the day in Marrakech (just a 40-minute drive away) smug in the knowledge that you'll be sleeping far from the mad hustle and bustle
  • Indulge with a soothing massage or traditional hammam overlooking the National Park, or laze by the pool - a yoga instructor can also come up from Marrakech (request in advance)
  • The hotel can arrange rafting in the Ourika valley; hot air ballooning on the plain of Marrakech and even skiing in Oukaimdon (a 40-minute drive away)
  • The Monday Tnine Ourika market is as colourful as they come and you can tour local saffron farms and essential oil makers in the company of a local guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Mountain biking
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Shopping / markets
  • Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Although kids are made welcome at Bab Ourika, and families often stay, the mood here is very grown-up with the accent firmly placed on intimate-escape-for-two.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can hold a baby cot and most can also hold an extra bed. Deluxe Rooms 7 and 8 can interconnect, the Deluxe Suite/Family Suite can hold up to 6 plus a baby and the Garden Deluxe Suite has 2 bedrooms. The more luxurious 2-bedroom Private Pool Villa comes complete with infinity pool.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available on request.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Kasbah Bab Ourika is near the village of Tnine Ourika in the Ourika valley, in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

By Air
Fly into Marrakech (40km), from here the hotel can arrange a transfer that should be cheaper than jumping in a taxi at the airport. Alternatively you can hire a car; there is parking at the hotel, and a guardian in the car park.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Morocco and getting around

Airports:

  • Marrakech-Menara Airport 40.0 km RAK

Other:

  • Beach 240.0 km
  • Shops 4.0 km
  • Restaurant 3.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 20 independent reviews from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
9/10
Food
8/10
Service
8/10
Value
9/10
Overall

Fabulous escape after two days in Marrakech. Beautiful gardens and delicious food helped for a very relaxing few days.

10/10,

What an amazing place to stay. We absolutely love Kasbah Bab Ourika. It’s surrounded by stunning views and was a great base to explore the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. We loved our trek out to the national park and the picnic lunch we had overlooking the snow capped Mount Toubkal. I’d definitely stay again.

10/10,

What an amazing setting for a hotel. Rooms were light, spacious and warm (January) and the view from our bedroom was incredible. Very friendly, helpful staff. We did a couple of treks and were really impressed with our guide. A wonderful breath of fresh air after the hectic pace of Marrakesh. We definitely will go back.

10/10,

The hotel, setting and rooms are gorgeous. We particularly loved the gardens. The stay was totally relaxing. It's a great base for walking. You can wander into the national park or hire a guide or camel. There is an on site Spa with hamam, a large swimming pool and plenty of activities and safe spaces to occupy families with children. The only minor flaw in my opinion is the menu which caters for Europeans and the standard is average. Personally I would have preferred more Moroccan dishes, tagines etc.

10/10,

After coming from a very chic and modern five-star hotel in Marrakech, we were curious to see how Kasbah Bab Ourika compared. The short answer is that it's magical. They kindly upgraded us from our entry level room to one with a fabulous terrace - those views. Some might find it a little hot in summer with a fan instead of a/c but it was fine for us. The food was outstanding: the little menu changed daily and was the most reliably delicious food of the whole trip. Excellent range of modern European and Moroccan. The staff were all fantastic and made us feel welcome and relaxed. The grounds (good range of games too) and pool were lovely and all carefully maintained. Apart from a brisk three hour trek, we took it easy and enjoyed the Kasbah. We really can't praise them enough for a thoroughly regenerating stay. A top i-escape choice.

10/10,

Outstanding hotel in all possible ways. The location is gorgeous, food is the best I had in Morocco and the staff go out of their way to make the stay unforgettable.

10/10,

Kasbah Bab Ourika proved to be a truly wonderful experience for my daughter and I. The hotel’s driver picked us up from the airport for the 45 min drive out of Marrakesh to the base of the Atlas Mountains and then up. Passing through a Berber village, the locals waved and smiled as we ascended a steep unmade road that took us to the spectacle of the Kasbah. We were instantly greeted by the hotel staff, our bags automatically taken, while we were offered a refreshing glass of their homemade lemonade and taken on a tour of the hotel’s beautiful grounds and gardens - a wonderful start to our holiday. Thereafter we cherished every single day that we were there - because the hotel staff made absolutely sure that we did. We were so well looked after, enjoying a wonderful 2 hr trek with Hassan, the hotel’s guide, around a Berber village, across the salt ponds, through the forest and up the mountains - breathtaking. We also experienced a traditional “hammam” and a massage in the hotel spa which was amazing. But the whole success of our trip was entirely down to the staff that look after the guests at Bab Ourika, including their wonderful chef, Mohammed. Every single meal produced by him, without exception, was of the utmost quality using fresh produce and ingredients, many grown in the hotel’s garden, and the staff who served us were exemplary. The menu changed every single day and we so looked forward to seeing what was on offer and to sampling and tasting his recipes. Every meal was a delight and tasted sublime. Thank you Kasbah Bab Ourika. Thank you to all who work there.

10/10,

The setting of the Kasbah was extraordinary. So beautiful and the aesthetic was perfectly lovely. The gardens and pool were the most gorgeous I have ever seen. We would return with pleasure at the drop of a hat. The Garden Pool Suite was a superb room. I would struggle to say how they could improve - the only thing I can think of is that the kids meals were very standard - burger and chips/spaghetti bolognese and parents would appreciate some veggies/more healthy options being available. It was remote and there is no need to leave except trek/walk with the organised tours. Although Marrakech is just 45 minutes away by car for a day trip.

10/10,

Kasbah Bab Ourika is a beautiful house with lovely gardens and views. Our room was big and decorated in good taste and we loved the many areas where quests could sit and relax. The food was good home cooked fare but on some occasions slightly average in taste and quality. We would recommend the Bab Ourika, but we did feel the service from staff was lacking and quite indifferent.

7/10,

The Kasbah Bab Ourika took our breaths away, literally. Located on a height at the gateway to the Ourika valley, it commanded stunning views and oozed tranquility and romance. We were upgraded to a suite so we had a huge bedroom, strewn with rose petals from the beautiful gardens, a reading annex, a writing room, a bathroom and a terrace that overlooked the Atlas mountains, amazing. The gardens had so many private areas to relax in, we almost felt there was nobody else there. The food was excellent, the staff very professional and the ambiance calm and relaxing. If you're looking for someplace romantic to get away from it all, even the internet, this is the place to go.

10/10,

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Rates for Kasbah Bab Ourika

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