Arguably the most luxurious hotel south of Marrakech, Dar Ahlam is more than just a stop – off point on the way to the Sahara desert, it’s a ‘must-do’ as it’s by far the most memorable place to stay in the region, maybe in all of Morocco.
Skoura is a 4.5-hour drive from Marrakech through dramatic, mountainous scenery. And to spend anything less than two nights at this 19th-century former kasbah would be a crime, so plan to stay a while.
There’s so much to do. All activities are organised in-house and led by the hotel’s outstanding guides, with tailored visits to the surrounding countryside using 4x4s, quad bikes, motorbikes, camel, horse or on foot. Also special is that each meal is served in a surprise location, making every occasion seem like another chapter from the One Thousand and One Nights folk tales.
Dar Ahlam, or the House of Dreams in English, is built on land that was the former hunting grounds, dating from the 12th century, of the Sultan of Ouarzazate. The property today cleverly mixes local design and handicrafts with chic, Western touches to give it a modern Moroccan style. Wander through the passageways to discover hidden rooms of tranquillity, open fireplaces and an unusual collection of antiques.
The hotel has a refreshing, home-style aura about it, reinforced by the absence of phones and TVs in sight, suites and rooms without locks, and no minibars. So if I wanted something, I had to call down for it. Either that or head down to the complimentary bar where thirst-quenching cocktails are the order of the day. The lack of modern-day distractions ensured I had more interaction with those around me, including the staff. When I wished to be connected to the outside world, the wi-fi in the communal areas was strong, but I resisted the urge to log on.
This year (2017), the hotel is celebrating its 15th birthday, with 15 special weekends focusing on in-house theatre productions, food events, wine-tastings and other themes on certain weekends. There’ll be magic in the air.
Alex Wix |
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