Riad Cascades d'Ouzoud

Ouzoud, High Atlas, Morocco Book from DH630

A remote mountain inn, just yards from the plummeting Ouzoud waterfalls, imbued with a spirit of genuine Berber hospitality
After growing up as a pied noir in the north of Morocco, Patrick Lamerie worked as an itinerant architect and interior decorator before leading horseback adventures to some of the planet’s remotest areas. After such a richly textured life he needed to find a place of rare and inspirational beauty to put down roots. Returning to Ouzoud after an absence of nearly 30 years he found the same easy warmth amongst its villagers as he had in his youth. They showed him a crumbling, single storey house just yards from Morocco’s most spectacular waterfalls: his quest was over.

That simple house has grown into a grander, riad-style building yet its red pisé and crenelated kasbah roof slots harmoniously into the fabric of the small hamlet of Ouzoud. And inside the house the warmest of embraces awaits: the decoration is colourful and homespun, the welcome effusive yet unfawning. If you’re a lover of mountain culture and in search of that much-touted real Morocco, you can live it right here.

Highs

  • One of the most spectacularly situated inns in North Africa
  • Bedrooms are cosy and colourful, and their simplicity adds to their charm
  • A fabulous roof terrace with soaring views out across the valley
  • This is one of the few places in Morocco where you really feel that staff are on an equal footing to the owner
  • The riad is a great base for day walks out to the surrounding villages or for longer, more demanding circuits

Lows

  • You’re over 1000 metres up in the Atlas foothills where temperatures can plummet during winter - pack accordingly
  • During the holiday season, and at fine weekends, the village and waterfalls get swamped by day-tripping Marrakchis
  • Expect a laid-back yet friendly approach from the riad’s Berber staff
  • It's a little expensive
  • You’re out of internet range in Ouzoud, this is definitely off the beaten track ... perhaps a blessing

Best time to go

Avoid public holidays during the summer months and weekends when the weather is mild. Spring is a wonderful time to be here when the almond trees are in blossom and the valley is at its greenest whilst seeing the autumn harvesting is a real out-of-time experience. Winter, too, can be very beautiful: on clear winter days there are breathtaking views south to the towering peaks of the High Atlas.

Our top tips

Ouzoud is too far out on a limb to come for just a night so be sure to book a second. If you’re a keen hiker check in for a week or so: there’s an amazing network of footpaths in and around the valley and some of the local guides really know their stuff.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9
  • Breakfast (+ dinner on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Board games
Room:

Rooms

The 9 bedrooms have been conceived and decorated in the same vein as the rest of the riad with simple screed floors, warm colour washes and beautiful beamed ceilings, some with coloured tataoui work, others planked with painted Berber motifs. We preferred the first and second floor rooms which felt more private. See Rates for full details.

The bedrooms have limited natural light - some give onto the courtyard whilst others have narrow outside windows - yet none of them feel claustrophobic. Bright blankets and rugs add warmth and colour and the rooms have been attractively lit with copper appliqué lamps and bedside lanterns. Most of the rooms have open hearths - check that yours has one if you book in winter - and all have the rush-seated easy chairs that you see throughout the Atlas. Although the rooms are simple, we felt that nothing was missing.

All of the rooms have small tadlakt shower rooms with beautiful hand painted sinks and brass mixer taps. We really appreciated the lashings of hot water when we got back to the riad after a long hike.

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Coffee tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Radio
  • Terrace

Eating

Patrick’s culinary policy at the riad is of the ‘keep it local’ kind, and the cooks prepare the sort of dishes that they’d eat in their own homes. Most ingredients will have been grown in the village - many organically - or haggled for at Ouzoud’s colourful Tuesday market.

You dine in the riad’s cosy salle maroccaine (where a fire is lit in the colder months), in an adjacent courtyard, or, best of all, up on the roof terrace where night skies, with so little light pollution, are simply amazing. At dinner you choose between 2 starters - maybe a tomato tart or soup - which will be followed by a tagine, couscous, some kind of grilled meat or perhaps by a confit de canard. Desserts include fresh fruit salad, chocolate mousse or homemade crème caramèle.

Breakfast is also an authentically Moroccan offering. Delicious semi-leavened bread arrives hot from one of the village’s wood-fired ovens, there are locally made jams and honeys, homemade pancakes and - a real treat in such a remote location - freshly squeezed orange juice. Let the cooks know when you come down to breakfast if you’d like a picnic to be prepared. It will be ready by the time you head out.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Follow a snaking path through olive trees down to the bottom of the 110m high Ouzoud waterfalls where you can kayak, boat, whitewater raft or swim in the river
  • Explore the network of trails that lead out from the village on foot, on a mountain bike, or on the back of a mule. Trusted guides can be arranged at the Riad who can tell you about Berber ways of life and local plantlife
  • Arrange for a guided visit to one of the village homes or wander the backstreets and have your own chance encounters
  • Close encounters of the simian kind: groups of magot monkeys inhabit the hillsides around the waterfalls and perform spectacular acrobatics in the treetops
  • Go waterskiing on the nearby lake
  • Chill out on the roof terrace: late afternoon is the best time to be here when the valley and surrounding mountains are bathed in the reddish glow of sunset

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Rafting
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Wildlife

Kids

Kids would love the waterfalls and the monkeys but maybe less so the hiking, which is pretty tough. They’d probably find that a couple of nights would be enough. And they’ll get the VIP treatment which is lavished on any foreign kid travelling in remoter parts of Morocco.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Sable and Verveine can be set up as triples or fit a baby cot, and Turquoise can fit an extra bed for a young child.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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