Sawadi

near Ouarzazate, South & desert, Morocco Book from

A peaceful kasbah guesthouse set amongst verdant gardens on a working farm, in Skoura’s ancient palm groves
Nestling in the palmeraie de skoura, near the breathtaking Dades gorge, Sawadi is a magical place which feels not only miles from anywhere but also several centuries in the past. It's reached down a rocky 5-mile track that crosses a oued (river bed) and curves past walled gardens, tall palms and mud houses where children peep shyly through windows.

After the dusty plains, the impressive red-mud entrance and towering wooden gates open to a welcome sight: a gleaming pool and lush lawns. Flower-lined paths lead to colourful, comfortable rooms housed in 6 miniature kasbahs, built in Berber style with straw and mud bricks. Behind lie 3.3 hectares of farmland: fruit orchards, grape vines, meadow flowers, sheep and donkeys, and a huge vegetable patch whose carrots, onion, mint, lemons, courgettes and olives are used in the kitchen. With only the sound of trickling water and birdsong, you'll find utter tranquillity - whether lying by the pool, hiking in the gorges or riding horses through the palmeraie.

Highs

  • Utter peace in acres of walled gardens lovingly planted with flowers and sowed for organic produce - an absolute beauty!
  • Great for families: it's safe, there's lots to do (bikes, donkeys, pool) and there are family suites)
  • Magical oasis-like setting where huge mountains and gorges cede to flat desert, palm groves, mud-built villages and sparkling lakes - lots to explore
  • Sunset views of the Atlas peaks and star-filled night skies
  • Charming French owners, Phillippe and Catherine, and lovely staff

Lows

  • The remote location makes it easy to get lost, so try and arrive in the daytime (or book a car with driver) - detailed directions are provided on confirmation
  • The nearest restaurant is 45km - but the food here is delicious and home-grown
  • 5 hours from Marrakech airport, but the drive through the Atlas Mountains is amazing!
  • Rooms are a bit dark but homely - fine by us as you don't come here to stay indoors

Best time to go

March, April, early May and September are the best months to visit. Temperatures are scorching in the summer, although at an altitude of 1190 metres, the air is refreshingly cooler than in Marrakech. The gardens are pretty in spring and autumn and the slightly cooler days means it’s not too hot for excursions.

Our top tips

At night, take a rug outside and star-gaze: with no light pollution for miles around, you'll see more stars than you ever imagined possible.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 17 rooms
  • Restaurant
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Boules ground
Room:

Rooms

The rooms and suites are spread amongst 5 mini kasbahs and the large, double-storey Palmier House. Decor is traditional Moroccan: heavy wooden doors studded with bolts, stone floors, warm pink tadelakt walls, intricate black metal furniture, brightly woven rugs and beautiful, ornate lanterns. Big beds are dressed in crisp white sheets overlain with woven bedspreads; the overall look is clean and colourful. Each Deluxe Room or Suite makes a charming couple’s hideaway.

One of the more spectacular rooms is the Panoramic Suite (Palmier Haut), it not only has a Moroccan-style kingsize bed, but it also has 2 terraces; one of which overlooks the Atlas Mountains. We can't think of anything better than lazing in the sun, gazing up at this spectacular view. The larger Panoramic Suite (Palmier Bas) is close to the pool, and oodles of room for a family.

Bathrooms have tiled shower rooms and a separate toilet; suites have double sinks, too. Although there’s no real need for air con due to the thick pisé walls the kasbahs do have it installed.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The food is fresh and delicious, boosted by the feel good factor of being grown a stone’s throw from the plate in Sawadi’s organic garden. Set evening meals are taken beneath a vine-laden canopy on the terrace or inside the lovely lantern-lit restaurant. We enjoyed the traditional Moroccan fare: leafy salad from the garden, kofta tagine with pasta and homemade breads. And French desserts - crème caramel and apple tarte. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, too.

For a lunchtime snack, we ordered omelette and a local mixed salad of tomatoes, olives, and leaves. You can get alcoholic drinks, including wine, digestifs and the essential poolside beer, which comes with a dish of almonds laced with chilli and olives.

Breakfast, taken on the terrace, is also traditional Moroccan: mint tea (or English tea or coffee), pancakes, fried pastries, yoghurt, freshly baked bread, homemade fig and strawberry jams, and juice freshly prepared from fruit trees in the garden.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax in Sawadi’s bucolic grounds, crisscrossed with paths featuring fruit trees (apricot, peach, plum, pear, quince vineyards, pomegranate, cherry, apple, pear, olive), sweet scented jasmine, herbs, meadow flowers and roses, and a small stable for donkeys, goats and chickens. Laze in a hammock by the pool listening to birdsong - the garden is a twitcher's paradise
  • Experience a traditional, restorative scrub down in the hammam, followed up by an argon oil massage in the spa area
  • Walk to the impressive 17th-century Kasbah of Amerhidil, pictured on the Moroccan 50DH note
  • Drive up the Dades or Todra gorges in the Atlas Mountains. Trek to waterfalls, swimming spots and local villages. Equally, the Valley of Roses is famous (surprise, surprise) for roses (in early spring)
  • Merzouga offers a taste of the Sahara’s classic desert dunes - Philippe can organise luxury overnight camping in beddouin tents under the stars
  • He can also organise fascinating guides to show you the local flora and fauna, history and folklore of the local villages, or you can borrow bikes an explore on your own steam
  • Go horse riding, mule or camel trekking through the neighbouring farm
  • Skoura has a bustling souk - less touristy and more authentic than those of Marrakech
  • Visit the film studios of Ouarzazate, 40 minutes away

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Horse-riding
  • Shopping / markets
  • Trekking

Kids

Sawadi is a lovely place for adventurous families – the 4 hectares of walled gardens have lots of space to run wild, groves of fruit trees and even a mini-kasbah to play in. There's an organic farm attached (Sawadi prides itself on being Farm-to-Fork) which provides vegetable, fruit and meat for guests. There's also plenty of outdoor exploring around the nearby gorges and valleys. Babies and toddlers stay for free up to the age of 2, and there are reduced meal prices for children up to 12.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Book Panoramic Suite (Palmier Bas), which sleeps up to 5 adults and has a special child's bed and room for a cot: it has fantastic views, too. If it’s not available, Panoramic Suite (Palmier Haut) can sleep 4, plus a baby.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots

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

Children's meals:

The food is lovely, but with no kitchenettes and a 45km-drive to the nearest restaurant, you may want to bring some snacks etc. The team are happy to prepare special kids dishes such as mashed potatoes and pureed vegetables for little ones, or non-spicy fish and meat dishes for older children.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Paddling pool for toddlers beside large saltwater pool (6x12m)
  • Playground
  • Ping pong, volleyball, badminton, basketball hoop
  • Mini kasbah to climb with small tables and chairs
  • Bike hire
  • Farm animals: donkeys, goats, sheep, cows, chickens, ducks
  • Boules pitch

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Walking around gorges, orchards, groves and kasbahs
  • 4X4 desert and Atlas Mountains trips
  • Camel trekking

Families Should Know:

The pool isn't fenced and the roof terraces might not suit adventurous toddlers.

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes (Ouarzazate) / 4-5 hours (Marrakech)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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