Kasbah Tamadot

Asni, High Atlas, Morocco Book from DH5150

Branson's lavish Moroccan hideaway delivers haute luxe, haute cuisine and haute montagne in equal measure
It was in 1998 that Richard Branson's mother Eve first came across this crenellated kasbah, perched dramatically on a hilltop and surrounded by the peaks of the High Atlas. At that time it belonged to an Italian antiques dealer who had opened it up to his friends. But she saw the potential of a luxury north African retreat to complement Virgin's existing Necker Island and Ulusaba Game Reserve, and the Tamadot project was born.

After 7 years of labyrinthine negotiations and top-to-toe refurbs, it finally opened its carved and inlaid gates to guests seeking the ultimate luxury in the heart of Morocco's most spectacular mountains. The extensive gardens are now carefully landscaped with rose, fruit and cactus plants, the indoor pool and courtyards remodelled to find space for a 5-star spa, and the suites redecorated to combine contemporary design with colourful Moroccan antiques. There was also the small addition of a stunning infinity pool, plentiful sundecks, a separate mini-kasbah for families and, most recently, some astonishing tented accommodations for that north African luxe safari vibe. It was worth the wait.

Highs

  • One of the finest mountain vistas in north Africa
  • A heavenly retreat from the bustle of Marrakech - yet within striking distance (45-minute drive)
  • Amazing facilities: spa, tennis courts, 2 pools (one out, one in) making this a year-round retreat
  • The most luxurious hotel in the Atlas Mountains, with levels of service that are rare in Morocco
  • Superb cuisine and wines, overseen by an acclaimed chef

Lows

  • The tents are particularly pricey, but then they are staggeringly opulent - probably the comfiest tents in the world!
  • Children are only welcome during the UK school holidays (but their Kasbah Kids programme provides heaps of fun activities, including Moroccan cookery and treasure hunts)
  • The Atlas can be surprisingly cold in winter - but rooms have heating, ponchos and heated blankets

Best time to go

The best period is March-early November. From June to August it can be pretty warm, though always about 10 degrees cooler than Marrakech and the plains. March-May and September-October are perhaps the best months for active types. From December to February, expect temperatures between 10-20 celsius, and the occasional dusting of snow on the peaks round about.

Our top tips

Don't worry about bringing your own entertainment - there are books and music CDs to borrow from the library, a Bose radio-CD and iPod dock in your room (with leads), as well as a TV with DVD player (plus a large selection of titles to borrow). So if the mountains turn cloudy and wet, you've got every excuse to snuggle in the bedroom.

Likewise they provide umbrellas, sun hats, ponchos for you to borrow, as well as babouches (slippers) which you can take home with you... so no need to haggle for those at great length in the souks (unless you enjoy it, of course).

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Hotel
  • 27
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome during UK school holidays
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Scattered around various levels and buildings, the 18 bedrooms are spacious, warm and - after the antique-filled opulence of the library and common rooms - comparatively simple. Terracotta floor-tiles, patterned rugs and ochre hues keep the ambiance cosy, while carved wooden chests, claw-footed fer forgé bedside tables and fantastic mosaic ceilings lend some swagger. The chunky wooden kingsize and four-poster beds were made especially for the hotel - most Moroccan frames come too narrow. A few beds can be unzipped to make twins. All rooms are different - some are on the rooftop with 360-degree views, another occupies the old kitchen - but all have their charms (on that point it's worth noting that Kasbah Tamadot cannot guarantee a particular room, only the room-type).

Superior and deluxe rooms are a single but large space (30-40 sq.m.), two of them with a balcony offering mountain views. Superior and deluxe suites come with a separate sitting room and some kind of outside space - terrace, balcony or, in 2 cases, a private rooftop area. The largest (around 50 sq.m.) are tucked away on the ground floor, while the smallest (around 30 sq.m.) tend to have the most panoramic views as compensation. You get either a Moroccan or a contemporary bathroom, the former with an arched entrance into a sunken, plaster-coated bath-area, the latter featuring a freestanding bathtub with overhead shower. Powerful heating, electric blankets and (in some rooms) fireplaces help fend off the winter chill.

Beyond the pool is the path that leads to the tennis courts and the master suite, a mini-kasbah at the bottom of the garden with 3 bedrooms (2 large, 1 small) which can be taken as a whole - perfect for a family group - or booked individually within 2 months of arrival.

Now for the biggest - and one of costliest - treats of all. Just beyond and above the gardens are 5 large, private and uber-opulent Berber tented suites, each with a Jacuzzi set in decking with loungers and a sensational view of Mount Toubkal. All have kingsize beds and bathtubs next to big windows, TVs, DVDs and luxurious extras, including split air conditioning units to keep you cool in summer and super-cosy in winter (plus heated rugs, if you need them).

If you fancy being cosseted under canvas, but can't countenance the cost of the larger Berber tents, consider the newer ones without Jacuzzis: they are slightly smaller, but still get the same facilities and stunning Atlas views from their sun terraces.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Bottled water
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hair straightener
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • Umbrella and sunhats
  • Wifi internet

Eating

With an intimate fireside bar for pre-dinner cocktails, a choice of 3-course dinners or a 7-course tasting menu, and the option of terrace dining with breathtaking views, Kanoun restaurant is a match for the magnificent setting. The cuisine is based on local produce - spices and dried fruit from Marrakech, fish from the Atlantic coast, vegetables from Asni, meat from the (carefully vetted) local butcher - with a few international dishes thrown in for good measure. All the classics are there - spiced lamb tagine, vegetable couscous, traditional pigeon pastilla with roasted artichoke and spinach - as well as some more unusual options, like confit of wild Norwegian salmon, prawn and calamari lasagna, or a cheese plate with walnut bread, which might be a blessing for those who have had one tagine or couscous too many. Desserts include roasted pears with mascarpone or, on the tasting menu when we looked, an intriguing sounding peanut mousse with raspberries.

All of this comes courtesy of a well travelled Kiwi, Lee Cowie (ex Necker island), and his equally experienced French F&B manager Romain Arnaud (ex Vatel Hotel School in Paris); as well as swathes of impeccably polite, gracefully clad Moroccan servers.

Lunch can be served by the pool if you are feeling lazy, and includes some lighter options like feta and chorizo tartlets or parma ham with figs and green beans, as well as sea bass and entrecotes fresh off the grill, and no shortage of sorbets and ice creams to cool you down.

Cookery courses are also on offer: 3 hours in the afternoon under the tutelage of one of the head chefs, using Moroccan and Berber recipes, and ending with the chance to eat your creations.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Food and wine
  • Kids' menu
  • Minibar
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

When you're bored of sunbathing, being pampered at the spa, dipping in and out of the infinity pool, playing tennis, exploring the gardens, and walking or mule-riding to the Berber hamlet on the opposite hillside for some mint tea, you can...

  • Arrange a trip to Marrakech for some seriously exotic shopping, palace visits or even golf. It's a 45-minute drive each way, and taxi-transfers can be arranged through the hotel
  • Drive over the breathtaking Tizi'n'Test pass, stopping to visit the 12th-century mosque of Tin Mal
  • Walk down the Ourika valley to the waterfalls and Berber hamlet of Setti Fatma, returning by jeep along a high-mountain piste with views to Mt. Toubkal
  • Choose from a fantastic array of 1- to 5-day guided excursions, ranging from a mule trek down the river to Asni village, or a gentle wander through the nearby Ourika valley to the waterfalls, to a fully-fledged multi-day hike or a 4x4 trip across the desert
  • Ascend north Africa's highest peak Jbel Toubkal, whose snowy 4168m summit dominates the horizon; guides, baggage mules and simple refuges are organised for you
  • There is never a dull moment for kids: treasure hunts, cookery classes, table tennis tournaments are just some of the activities that can be organised on request
  • Finally, if the weather's really awful, you can stay in and watch DVDs or listen to CDs - all the wherewithal is provided

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Food and wine
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Private guided tours
  • Tennis
  • Trekking
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Children are very welcome at Kasbah Tamadot during the UK school holidays which are typically:
5-28 February
18 March – 24 April
27 May – 5 June
1 July – 4 September
14 October – 6 November
16 December – 8 January

Children now go free in their parents' room (there used to be a significant supplement) which is a major incentive for the parents; and under 6s are not charged for dinner, including free soft drinks and ice cream, which is a major incentive for the little ones. In the suites, children can be accommodated on rollaway or fold-out beds, but for safety reasons the tented suites can only accommodate babies (in cots). Children occupying their own room without any adults will be charged the normal adult nightly rate.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Children under 6 are not permitted (and children under 12 are not recommended) to stay in the Berber Tented Suites due to the location (on the mountain edge where there is a drop to the valley below), and small children riding a mule must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
For families with children who may prefer to share a room with roll-away beds for children (aged up to and including 11 year olds) then the Superior Suites and Deluxe Suites are ideal for them; both can fit a cot in addition. Some of them have a separate sitting area, which can be useful if you want to read after putting your child to bed.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is an extra charge, advance notice is required to guarantee availability

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and bassinets are available on request

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

Children's meals:

There's a young diners menu including some Moroccan-themed dishes so they can try something new. Special requests can be prepared with a little notice

Kids Activities on site:

  • Children are welcome to participate in specially tailored/bespoke activities for kids of all ages, called Kasbah Kids, which are generally free of charge, these include Moroccan treasure hunts, table tennis, tennis
  • Meeting the resident mules, Parmesan and Paprika, camels, Pickle and Pumpkin, and four donkeys, Pudding, Plum, Peaches and Parsley
  • Inflatable toys in the indoor pool
  • Outdoor infinity pool
  • Horse and cart ride
  • Games, books, DVDs
  • Moroccan cookery lessons
  • Moroccan tea party
  • Nail painting in the spa

Families Should Know:

Children under 6 are not permitted to stay in the Berber Tented Suites due to the location (on the mountain edge), and small children riding a mule must be accompanied by a parent/guardian

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes
  • Hospital: 45 minutes
  • Market: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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