Tented Suites at Kasbah Tamadot
After a few days moseying around the Medina, ducking donkeys and evading mopeds on the crowded, narrow streets, I started hankering for some open space, fresh air, and downtime. So, I headed to Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot, a spectacular hotel, formerly a Berber palace, set in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, about an hour’s drive south of Marrakech. Branson renovated the castle and opened it as a hotel in 2005, making sure that the entire place optimized views in every direction: To the north, a river valley backed by limestone and forested mountains, to the south, the snow-capped peaks of the high Atlas Mountains, and, to the east, the mountainside Berber village of Tansghar. But the views are only part of what makes this place so magical. It’s an exotic fort full of Asian antiques and Moroccan furnishings. The 24 rooms are individually designed and decorated, many with terracotta floors, four-poster beds, and mosaic or carved wood ceilings. There’s a heated outdoor and indoor pool, a spa, traditional hammam, rooftop terrace, two tennis courts, and the lovely Kanoun restaurant. The grounds are covered with orange, peach, and apple trees; rose beds; and greenery. The best rooms are the six tented suites that sit in a row outside the kasbah, and come with their own outdoor plunge pool – as well as fantastic mountain views. But even the lowest category units, though small, have jaw-dropping views of the craggy peaks and streams below; low-season rates start at €360 ($506). If you don’t want to splurge on an overnight, I’d recommend coming for lunch and then exploring the nearby village of Asni, and hiking or taking a mule ride through the foothills. At the romantic Kanoun restaurant, you can sit on the pool terrace, absorb the breathtaking scenery, dine on local and international cuisine, made from ingredients grown in the kasbah’s own gardens, and, most likely, wish you could stay.