Be captivated by wondrous, theatrical surprises at the boutique hotel Dar Ahlam, an atmospheric Moroccan kasbah in a lush oasis south of the High Atlas Mountains in Ouarzazate, Morocco.
How would you describe Kasbah Bab Ourika in a nutshell?
Kasbah Bab Ourika is a unique boutique hotel with a 360-degree panorama of the Atlas Mountains. It is surrounded by verdant hills and a national park. It is a remote place to get away from the world yet is only 45 mins from Marrakech. Harper’s Bazaar journalist Alex Preston said recently ‘It is a vision of Paradise, this earth–hewn hotel, its hilltop garden, its scents and its scenery. There is a quality of silence up here in the clear still air, a sense of timelessness that tricks you into believing that the fortress-like building, with its rose earth walls and cool courtyards, might have been here forever - a symmetrical extrusion from the hillside itself’.
How would you describe the atmosphere at Kasbah Bab Ourika?
The atmosphere here is of peace and of beauty. Nature is an intimate part of the hotel.
Light changes during the day create different magical ambiances. Mornings are glorious and later when the light begins to soften, drawing itself down the snow-capped mountains the valley, it becomes greener and redder and at dusk magic starts with candle lights all over the courtyards and terraces. Dinner is served outside half of the year under the stars with the breeze bringing garden scents in.
Winter days are mostly sunny and nights are cooler but the rooms are cosy. Log fires welcome you to the bar or the TV room to watch a movie.
A lot of our guests come to relax and unwind. Lazy lunches, reading in the many special places around the gardens. Others may want to see more of the Ourika Valley with excursions from the Kasbah or to trek in the national park next the Kasbah.
Who should stay at Kasbah Bab Ourika and who should rather book something else?
The Kasbah is a pure place where guests can experience a more genuine side of Moroccan life – the life of the Berber villages. If you are looking for a TV in your room or nightlife you may be better staying in Marrakech.
Our staff is part of the hotel family and they are proud of the hotel that has been created together. They will do their best to make you feel that the Kasbah is your home away from home.
From up here we have one of the most spectacular views of North Africa. I can’t tell you how many times our guests have told us that this is the most beautiful place they have been to which delights and motivates us all.
Please tell us about the restaurant and the food you serve.
At Kasbah Bab Ourika we are passionate about our produce. We source the freshest organic ingredients available from our own kitchen gardens and nearby markets to prepare a pure artisanal cuisine for our guests to enjoy.
Kasbah Bab Ourika and freelance consultant chef Michael Arthur have been working on a unique vision to create a balanced Moroccan and European menu. Our menu changes daily reflecting the fresh produce from our kitchen gardens and the surrounding valley.
Food is simple and healthy, rural and local but with sophistication and is served in the pagoda restaurant or under the trees.
What do you particularly like about this part of Morocco?
The Ourika Valley and the High Atlas are breathtakingly beautiful. And it is fascinating to live side by side with the Berber villages that have not changed for hundreds of years.
To you personally, what is so special about Kasbah Bab Ourika?
I am very proud to have created something that does feel like an old soul and that it has brought so much pleasure to our guests as well as vital employment to local Berbers. Our staff are proud of the Kasbah and this reflects in the genuine friendly Berber service that they always provide.
What’s your policy on kids?
We welcome children as we were all a child once. At the same time there are so many special places to relax in the gardens, that our guests without children would not find it an intrusion.