Kasbah Bab Ourika

Ourika Valley, High Atlas, Morocco
Book from GBP Book from £153 per night

Kasbah Bab Ourika

Ourika Valley, High Atlas, Morocco

Lord over the Atlas at this coolest of kasbahs at the head of the Ourika Valley

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 and suites 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 really transports you far from your normal routine
  • Admirable eco credentials, and very supportive of its surrounding Berber villages

Lows

  • 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

Bring binoculars, a sketch pad or a journal, to make the most of the vistas. This is a great place for painting, drawing, or simply reflecting.

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
  • 41 rooms
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • Children welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Steam Room
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

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).

The Panoramic Pool Suite drinks up jaw-dropping views and has its own pool, while the Garden Pool Suite and 2-bedroom Garden Deluxe Suite both 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.

The latest addition is The Retreat, which can be rented by the room or in its entirety by groups or large family parties. Set below the Kasbah's kitchen gardens, with it's own infinity pool making the most of those spectacular panoramic vistas, there are 11 bedrooms (a mix of Superior rooms with limited views, Suites with a sitting area and Premium rooms with huge valley and mountain views), all with ensuite shower bathrooms.

Beneath petal-strewn 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
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • 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. Our starter of fish croquettes with harissa yoghurt was followed by a dish of baked aubergine, ricotta and lentils. The finale was an almond tart accompanied by a velvety scoop of ice cream, leaving us utterly satisfied.

It's worth noting that each time we've visited, the more western-style dishes weren't as good as the Moroccan choices, so we suggest sticking to the local cuisine.

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 and the hearty Shakshuka.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian options
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)
  • Take part in the hotel’s cookery workshop or learn the art of traditional Berber tea making or Henna drawing
  • The hotel can arrange rafting in the Ourika valley; hot air ballooning on the plain of Marrakech; camel rides through the villages of Timalizen; 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:

  • Camel rides
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Mountain biking
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Shopping / markets
  • 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. There are, however, plenty of activities that kids can get involved in, such as camel-riding, henna drawing, and tea-making workshops.

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. The Suites in the Retreat can take an extra child per room too.

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available on request.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Camel-riding
  • Henna drawing
  • Cooking and tea-making classes
  • Donkey rides
  • Table tennis
  • Badminton
  • Archery

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 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
7/10
Food
10/10
Service
8/10
Value
8/10
Overall

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Rates for Kasbah Bab Ourika

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