“Branson's lavish Moroccan hideaway delivers haute luxe, haute cuisine and haute montagne in equal measure”
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.
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.
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...
Children are very welcome at Kasbah Tamadot during the UK school holidays which are typically:
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.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Children under 6 are not permitted (and children under 12 are not recommended) to stay in the Berber Tented Suites due to the location. 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 is an extra charge, advance notice is required to guarantee availability
Baby cots and bassinets are available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
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
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