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Our score: 4.6/5.0

Dar Ahlam

Ouarzazate

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Alex Wix Avatar for Alex Wix

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Exclusive Benefits

Daily breakfast for two
Locations change daily
Room upgrade upon arrival
Subject to availability
Spa Treatment
A complimentary 50-minute massage for up to two people, per room, once during stay
Early check-in / Late check-out
Subject to availability
Complimentary Wi-Fi

Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.

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  • Detailed Review +
  • Facts & Amenities +
Baring All
  • Arguably the most luxurious hotel south of Marrakech, with prices to prove it

  • Avoid long car journeys and fly into Ouarzazate from Paris, Casablanca or Zagora

  • Go for the Rue du Sud moving itinerary and stay in four of their beautiful houses in the area, finishing at Dar Ahlam

  • Dar Ahlam operates a luxury bivouac camp in the desert or in the valley of the roses depending on the time of year. Glamping at its best

Arrival experience

As the sun was setting, I left the town of Skoura and drove through a picturesque wadi into a small village and palmeraie where the hotel is located. Four members of staff, including the general manager, were on the front steps to greet me.

I was escorted through a dark tunnel glowing with heavily scented candles, past striking antiques from India, Indonesia and Morocco, and up a spiral staircase to my suite, hidden behind a beautifully carved Moroccan door. As the hotel already had my details, check-in was swift.

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Rooms and suites

My Junior Suite, one of nine and all individually themed, was the Ethnic Suite with African touches cleverly complementing Moroccan design. The room was light and airy and incredibly spacious, with an open fireplace that would, no doubt, be welcome during cooler evenings. Luckily, it also had a beautifully silent air conditioner for the warmer, summer Arabian nights.

After dinner on my one night there, I retired to my room to find subtly scented lit candles all around, creating a wonderfully romantic ambience, and as I slipped between the intricately embroidered sheets, I drifted off to sleep in one of the most comfortable beds imaginable.

The Superior Suites share a private terrace between them, worth upgrading to if you’re travelling with another couple.

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The bathroom

The traditionally plastered bathroom was adorned with almond-milk amenities that had a heavenly fragrance, as well as three hand-made soap shavings to choose from: rosewater, lemongrass and amber. I did, however, notice that many bathrooms had cracked tadelakt plaster, which is notoriously difficult to mend without replacing the entire floor, a sign that, after 15 years, maintenance is needed. That aside, the attention to detail was evident in that they had only laid out one set of Moroccan slippers, one towel and one dressing gown, given that I was alone.

The rain shower and hairdryer were both powerful, and the bath was huge. A lavish touch was the underfloor heating.

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Dining

I wandered downstairs for dinner and, as I walked into the grand salon, I had a distinct sense of déjà vu. I was offered the cocktail of the day (an immaculately mixed mojito with a kick, served with a bamboo straw) accompanied by delicate canapés and nuts. I sank into one of the sofas and enjoyed listening to the background jazz music. I could quite easily have been in an Aman hotel anywhere in the world as the service levels and design are not dissimilar, and the salon felt bizarrely very un-Moroccan.

Time for dinner, and I was escorted to a private table by the pool, surrounded by hundreds of candles, creating a dreamy setting. I had previously been asked about dietary requirements, and so a pre-set, four-course menu ensued. I had no complaints but fussy eaters who may wish to select their fare à la carte may feel restricted.

As one would expect from a Relais & Chateaux hotel with a general manager who once worked in a Michelin-starred restaurant, the meal was sublime, topped off with a mouthwatering chocolate pastilla, created by Pierre Hermé (the famous French pastry chef).

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Other restaurant options

There is no specific restaurant as every meal is served in a varying surprise location, be it on a rooftop, in the garden, or even as a gourmet picnic on a river bed.

The cuisine tends to be Moroccan and French, influenced by fresh and seasonal ingredients often sourced from the garden. My breakfast never seemed to end, with fresh fruit, yoghurt, warm Moroccan pastries, toast, eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice.

They also serve complimentary tea all day with home-made rosemary water, light and fluffy cakes, and other yummy snacks straight from the oven. Should you wish to learn how to make some of their magical dishes, the chef will offer cooking classes free of charge.

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Spa and wellness

The spa, also known as the Fragrance Room, is found off a tranquil courtyard with the all-important hammam and the option of indoor and outdoor treatment rooms. No visit to Morocco is complete without the obligatory hammam and gommage, where you are scrubbed within an inch of your life and left with silky smooth skin, ready to expose yourself to the African sun. Although there was a peaceful vibe, I was a little disappointed with the lack of ‘wow’ factor at the spa, and there was no gym.

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Pool and beach

The pool is surrounded by extensive, well-kept gardens with date palms, almond trees, honeysuckle, roses and many vibrant plants. The 25m pool is heated year-round to ensure an inviting temperature, and it is long enough to do lengths or equally easy enough to wallow in the shallower parts to cool off after reclining on one of the nicely spaced-out sunbeds.

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Kids/teens facilities

There were no children staying while I was there and, given the serene setting, I felt that, generally speaking, this is not a place for kids. However, the hotel does offer extra beds in their suites, and it has one large pool villa where the living room can be converted into a second bedroom. They offer donkey rides and other child-friendly excursions as well as babysitting on request.

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Staff and service

There always seemed to be a member of staff who intuitively appeared when I needed something. With around 100 staff, you are never left wanting at Dar Ahlam, and they are incredibly unobtrusive and deliver within moments.

My stay was based on an all-inclusive rate, the standard for most guests unless travelling in low season. To my delight, this meant no extras on the bill, and the only time I needed to reach into my wallet was to give a well-deserved tip at the end of my stay.

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Guest profile

The hotel has about a 15 per cent repeat-guest ratio each year. Guests were informally dressed European couples who tended to keep themselves to themselves.

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Departure experience

With no bill to settle there was no check-out, and my bag was in my waiting car when I came out. As I was driven away from the hotel, something told me it wouldn’t be long before I returned to share this incredible experience with my husband, as romance looms large here.

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General information

  • icon-briefcase
    How to get there

    4.5 hours by road transfer from Marrakech Airport

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    Accommodation

    13 Rooms & Suites & 1 Villa

Amenities

  • Wi-Fi

    Wi-Fi

  • Swimming pool

    Swimming pool

  • Spa

    Spa

  • Restaurant

    Restaurant

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