Kasbah Ellouze

near Ouarzazate, South & desert, Morocco Book from

A kasbah-hotel oasis near the famous Ait Benhaddou and Ouarzazate city - an area of biblical beauty - with great food, a refreshing pool and a warm welcome
This remote and romantic kasbah has been beautifully restored by a friendly French couple, Michel and Colette Guillen. Perched on a rocky hill, the Atlas peaks framing the distance, its red adobe towers overlook a startlingly green Garden of Eden. Wheat fields, olive and almond groves, and meadows are intersected by glistening streams, rising out of the expansive ochre landscape. People come here to escape from the world, to soak up the magical atmosphere and to explore the ancient architecture – both natural and man-made. Every vista resembles a film set - you may recognise backdrops from Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth or Gladiator, which was shot in the ramshackle Kasbah Glaoui next door.

In the Kasbah, Labyrinthine corridors twist around the hotel, leading to large terraces with Berber-style cushions, low carved tables and dreamy views over the lush gardens, where swallows wheel and dive at sunset. Off the central tiled courtyard, with its bubbling fountain, are several lounges, an informal dining room (and adjoining terrace), an outdoor heated pool and a handful of simple but homely bedrooms. Life moves slowly here and Kasbah Ellouze remains its best-kept secret.

Highs

  • Bucolic surroundings- snow-capped peaks, red-walled forts, stunning gardens - and the romance of staying in an ancient kasbah, with hidden corners, stairs and multi-level terraces
  • Tasty home-cooked 3-course dinners with creative, daily-changing dishes (and it's included in the rates!)
  • Activities include fantastic guided walks visiting ancient kasbahs and troglodyte caves. Our dusk camel trek was a highlight of our 2014 stay, and we loved cooling off in the refreshing pool afterwards!
  • The stunning Unesco-listed Ait Benhaddou kasbah is only 3km away, and this area makes a great stopover between Marrakech and the southern deserts
  • Great value for money

Lows

  • Some rooms don’t have a view of the garden, and design buffs may not relish the simple, homely décor
  • Don't expect any nightlife, other than an occasional visit from local musicians
  • Touts can be a hassle at nearby sights like Ait Benhaddou, but the village around the kasbah is wonderfully relaxed
  • Expect the odd fly over dinner and a bit of dust in your room, you're out in the sticks after all

Best time to go

Spring (April and May) are best for the climate and the garden - the roses are in bloom and it’s not too hot to walk. Autumn (September and October) also brings comfortable temperatures, though the gardens won't be quite so pretty. The hotel is closed during Ramadan (dates change each year), and also during January.

Our top tips

If you don’t speak French, it’s a good idea to take a phrase book with you as Michel and many of the locals do not speak English - though most of Kasbah Ellouze's staff do.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Half-board (+ lunch on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 8 Jan 2017 - 11 Feb 2017...
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Camel treks
Room:

Rooms

Most bedrooms open off the wide, open-air corridor overlooking the main courtyard. You get pretty rugs on sand-coloured floors, terracotta walls, and stone-based beds with colourful blankets for the cool evenings and air-conditioning for hotter nights. Local colour is everywhere: a brightly-hued painting or wall hanging, a straw hooked by the door or a lantern suspended from the rainbow-painted, bamboo-thatched roof. After our long drive through the mountains, the bottled water and ornate tea glasses were a very welcome touch.

Most rooms are simple doubles or twins; we particularly liked Aicha (room 1) and Brahim (room 2) for their views over the gardens, but all are homey and welcoming. Some have space for an extra bed and Doumia (room 4) and Mehdi (room 21) have bigger bathrooms. Some rooms may lack natural light, but in this heat that can actually be a blessing. Medhi (room 21) and Nabil (room 22) are in the kasbah’s poolside wing, which is slightly separate from the other bedrooms - Colette rates these as her best standard rooms. There’s also a particularly private double room tucked beneath the alfresco dining space; like a private little den, it’s popular with couples wanting a romantic hideaway.

There are also 3 large Suites: Saida, Gazelle and Hama. The former has a double bed and one single, while the other 2 have a double bed, 2 singles and an airy lounge area. We stayed in the Hama suite, and loved the far-reaching views afforded by its position in one of the kasbah towers.

Bathroom facilities are very simple but clean, with sand-coloured tadelakt walls, a shower with hot water enclosed by a low wall, a pretty blue-tiled basin area, towels and a mirror.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

There are no menus, and dinner is simply what is available that day - but you’re in safe hands with Michel. A trained chef, he applies Gallic gourmetterie to classic Moorish (and moreish) cuisine with great success. Our 3-course evening meals included a fresh hummus and salad starter, a creative fig and chicken tagine (with an unusual but delicious cinnamon noodle accompaniment), and even homemade ice cream for pudding.

Dinners are usually taken out on the peaceful terrace overlooking the verdant gardens (and the occasional harrumphing camel) - we loved dining here before taking a bottle of wine up to a cushioned nook on the rooftop terrace. If, like us, there’s a freak rain storm during your stay, you might end up dining in the cosy lounge room. Music inspired, there are low octagonal wooden tables, ornate lanterns and rich red walls filled with black and white photos. For the winter months, there’s also a welcoming dining room off the courtyard.

Dinner is included in the room rate, so most guests eat in every night (drinks are extra). Lunch or picnics can be arranged, otherwise there are plenty of cafes in nearby Ait Benhaddou.

A breakfast of pancakes, fresh bread, coffee or tea, fig, strawberry and apricot jam is served on the terrace, under a canopy of palm fronds. As it is a small, traditional hotel, there’s no room service, but Colette and her team are happy to bring refreshing drinks and snacks to you by the pool.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Walk through the cool local gardens and shady palm groves, exploring Kasbah Glaoui and nearby cave dwellings, or traversing the 3-mile route to Ait Benhaddou and Kasbah des Juifs - Colette can provide maps or a local guide
  • Explore the much filmed adobe town and hilltop castle of Ait Benhaddou (3km); get there early (or late) to beat the day-trippers and expect to be a little hassled by local shopkeepers and touts
  • Go on a camel ride along the river bed - anything from an hour to a day's excursion (a picnic lunch can be arranged). We took a short ride at dusk and saw stunning scenery, historic troglodyte caves and got to meet locals in the village surrounding Kasbah Ellouze
  • Soak up the atmosphere: have a chilled glass of wine by the pool or on the roof terrace and watch the wind in the almond groves, or the storks nesting atop the kasbah towers
  • Shop for carpets, pottery, trinkets, spices, lanterns and (probably illegal) fossils, all vigorously displayed at Ait Benhaddou and Ouarzazate's souks; or browse quietly for textiles and even antique doors at the tiny store opposite Kasbah Ellouze
  • The drive from Marrakech is an experience in itself, winding up through snaking valleys to cross the 2,000m Tizi-n-Tichka pass; at the top, make the detour to the evocatively crumbling Glaoui palace near Telouet
  • Visit the film studios, shimmering lake and royal golf course at nearby Ouarzazate (35km)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Camel trekking
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking

Kids

Kasbah Ellouze would be a fun place for older more adventurous children, with camel rides, caves and ancient kasbahs nearby - Indiana Jones fans would be in heaven!

Children under 5 years of age staying in their parents' room are free. For older children, there is an additional charge for an extra bed.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Hama and Gazelle suites are best for families as they have double bed, two single beds and a living room, the Saida suite has a double bed and a single bed, but no living room.

Most rooms can take at least one extra bed or baby cot, although the extra bed in room 21 is only suitable for a child under 5. Rooms 21 and 22 might work well for a family with older children, as they are both poolside, and slightly separate from the other rooms.

Baby equipment:

  • 2 baby cots available (request when booking)

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Heated swimming pool
  • Trekking with a local guide
  • Camel treks to local troglodyte caves - the kasbah has its own camels!
  • Visit the neighbours and learn to cook traditional 'Tafarnout' bread

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Ait Benhaddou and Kasbah Glaoui are sure to capture kids' imaginations!
  • Ouarzazate movie studios

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced and dining options are limited, so picky eaters may struggle. Highchairs are not available

Distances:

  • Airport: 4 hours (Marrakech)
  • Shops: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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Rates for Kasbah Ellouze