Hotel Highlights

  • Totally relaxing, sun-drenched pool area
  • Drink, dine and doze wherever you like
  • A few minutes from Marrakech, a short drive from the Atlas mountains

Overview

Just off the dusty highway that runs between Marrakech and the Atlas mountains, in a patch of lush greenery dotted by olive trees and pottered by peacocks, the three free-standing desert dwellings of  Fawakay Villas offer an enticing combination of classic Moroccan charm and sensitive contemporary styling.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Fawakay Villas with us:

A bottle of wine

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

Eight, spread over one two-bedroom and two three-bedroom villas.

Check–out

Midday, but can be flexible if availability allows.

Rates

Double rooms from $228.97 (£136), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Fawakay Villas is unable to accept payment by credit card.

More details

Rates include Continental breakfast and evening canapés.

Also

As well as tennis and idling by the pool, you can arrange on-site cooking lessons with the hotel chef.

At the hotel

Gardens, beauty salon, clay tennis court, table tennis, boules, DVD library. In rooms: flatscreen satellite TV, DVD player, air-conditioning, pantry with a fully stocked fridge.

Our favourite rooms

We loved the turquoise-hued feature wall and pillows in Villa Sannor’s downstairs double, as well as the large recessed tadelakt bath separated from the rest of the bedroom by a cream curtain. Villa Taos – Fawakay’s other three-bed villa has an African theme running through its decor, with an assortment of artefacts and craftworks underlining its ‘back to nature’ feel, and a fantastic master suite upstairs that comes with a vast private terrace with loungers and a shady tented area. The smaller villa Laklak has a fireplace in both the double and the suite and is decorated throughout in bold, Smith-esque red and black tones.

Poolside

Each villa has a tiny private plunge pool, and there’s a large unheated outdoor pool too.

Packing tips

You’ll doubtless be spending a lot of time poolside, so pack plenty of lotion, your most superstar shades, and that thousand-pager you’ve been putting off.

Also

Two-night minimum stay. Smoking is allowed throughout.

Children

Under-fives stay free (cots are available) and extra beds can be provided upstairs rooms for £45 a night. Babysitting can be arranged for 200 dirhams an evening (up to midnight), with 12 hours’ notice. There's monitoring kit and highchairs, too.

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Weddings

This property is suitable for weddings

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Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

Fawakay Villas’ resident chef, Rachida, can prepare European and/or Moroccan dishes to order using ingredients from the hotel’s vegetable garden – and serve them wherever you wish (meals are an additional £25 a day). There’s also a barbecue serving brochettes and grilled meats beside the pool bar some nights.

Hotel Bar

Drinks can be served anywhere thirst strikes, but there’s a huge, fully stocked poolside bar more often than not manned by Francis, the villas’ congenial owner.

Last orders

Breakfast is served until 11am, lunch at midday, and dinner between 7pm and 9pm. The bar is an informal affair, and open late. There is also a dedicated children's menu, lots of nibbles in the villa fridges and an all-day snack menu.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Anything from kaftans to Karan.

Top table

Although you can eat anywhere, the tables beside the pool are ideal for lunch on lazy days.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Villas Fawakay is somewhat remote, so guests in search of gastronomic greatness will either have to content themselves with Rachida’s (excellent) cooking, or take one of the regular shuttle trips into central Marrakech. Once there, there’s a vast choice. The Japanese-style garden restaurant Abyssin (+212 (0)524 329496) in the Palis Rhoul is five minutes’ away in the Palmeraie district, and, in the Medina itself, hidden dining den Le Fondouk (+212 (0)254 378190) never disappoints with its Med-Maroc fusion food.

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At the foot of the Atlas

Fawakay Villas

Route Ouarzazate, Marrakech, 40000

Planes

The nearest airport is Marrakech’s Menara Airport – fly there from the UK and elsewhere in Europe with British Airways (www.ba.com), Royal Air Maroc (www.royalairmaroc.com), EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com).

Trains

The Moroccan state railway, ONCF (www.oncf.ma), runs inexpensive (but limited) services to Marrakech from Casablanca, Fez and Tangier. Look for TCR (Train Climatisé Rapide) trains to guarantee an air-conditioned journey in summer.

Automobiles

Driving in Marrakech can be horn-filled and hectic, but if you insist, hire a car from the Avis (www.avis.com) desk at the airport. The hotel is a 15-minute drive from the centre along the N9 highway. There’s room for your car.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Addie Chinn , Urban junkie

It’s not even high season here in Marrakech but already the thermometer in the cab is playing footsy with the 40-degree marker. As we speed towards  Fawakay Villas, the roads from the airport dissolve into palm-dotted highways, then the highways into dusty paths and the paths into a final cross-country dash across a parched field. Eventually, in a swirl of orange dust, we arrive at o...

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Fawakay Villas

Anonymous review by Addie Chinn, Urban junkie

It’s not even high season here in Marrakech but already the thermometer in the cab is playing footsy with the 40-degree marker. As we speed towards  Fawakay Villas, the roads from the airport dissolve into palm-dotted highways, then the highways into dusty paths and the paths into a final cross-country dash across a parched field. Eventually, in a swirl of orange dust, we arrive at our boutique retreat.

Yet despite the scorching heat, when we first meet Fawakay’s proprietor, Francis, it’s as though the Moroccan sun doesn’t touch him. We’re chatting over a pot of fresh mint tea and homemade cookies in an open lounge of this chic stay. I’m trying not to eye the swimming pool quite so hungrily and I can practically hear Mrs Smith imagining herself on one of the daybeds, novel in hand, glass of cold wine en route. But Francis stands there: tall and relaxed in shorts and loose-fitting shirt, well-spoken and infinitely genial. Going native – that most delicious fantasy of all travellers – has never looked so damned appetising.

‘It’s such a pleasant heat,’ he assures us, a little psychically. ‘Quite perfect for hopping from the bar to the pool.’ Sigh. So that’s the secret.

Let’s backtrack: Fawakay Villas has been three long years in the making and by the time we drop by for the weekend, it has been running for just over a year. When Francis and his wife Dawn purchased a riad in central Marrakech a couple of years prior, it was intended as a distraction – a financially viable side project that would afford them an occasional escape from bustling London. That should have been the end of it. But one thing led to the next and soon they found themselves the proud owners of several acres of empty field a short drive from the Red City in the direction of the Atlas Mountains, with nought but a vision, passion and a willing architect. Built completely from scratch, the Boys-Stones designed and constructed their family dream house, together with three accompanying villas, and they moved here permanently, children in tow.

Springing up from the sparse and dusty fields that surround them, the bright yellow-ochre, two-floor villas are practically luminous amid the soft pastels of the gardens’ olive trees, the dusky pink roses and the turquoise of the pool in the background.

We’re staying in the second of the three villas, the other two rooms in it completely empty. Atop the smooth stone stairwell that spirals lazily to the first floor, our suite is impressively chic, furnished with a sensitive medley of both traditional and modern details: deep woodwork plays against sharp blacks and rich, lusty reds. A flatscreen TV hangs on the wall beside a collection of local knick-knacks. Half a dozen slender windows cast slices of light along the walls. And upon our bed, handfuls of scattered rose petals shape an enormous heart of luscious pinks and pearlescent whites. It’s a beautiful touch – and one that elicits a flock of giggling kisses from Mrs Smith (so extra thanks for that, dear Fawakay).

Out past the bedroom, our ensuite is an expanse of gleaming grey stone and scattered lambskins. Mrs Smith and I share a moment ogling the magnificent bath in the centre of the room, its dozen shuttered windows looking out across the rolling Moroccan countryside and take note for a romantic evening soak à deux. But for now there’s a wealth of gardens and daybeds and a pool to discover. An hour or so later, strange things are afoot. ‘Darling,’ squealeth my queen, ‘there’s a donkey at the bar…’

I’ve just hopped out of the water, the Marrakshi sun drying my wet footprints almost as soon as they’re laid. Mrs Smith is sitting in the shade of the rattan canopy beside the bar, laptop and a glass of local rosé before her. Although there’s no WiFi, Francis has sorted us out with a dongle (such a marvellous word). So the Mrs has decided that global domination waits for no (wo)man – not even here among the butterflies and birds and the bleating of lambs from the neighbouring field.

From nowhere (which is impressive when you consider her genetic lack of grace and stealth) Doris the Donkey trudges from behind the bar and helps herself to a cheeky lick of Mrs Smith’s accursed laptop. I suppose it does trump the traditional ‘my dog ate my homework’. The MacBook is packed hastily back to our villa. And while my beautiful better half is away, I slip Doris a biscuit and give her neck a little pat of gratitude – between you and me (and the donkey), it serves her right for even trying to work here in the first place.

Time drifts by strangely at Fawakay and somehow evening is already rolling in. We’ve swum and read and laughed and lunched (my, what lunch!) and wined and snoozed our day away, and now the sun is starting to drift towards the villas’ Western walls. Across the garden, past the pool and the softly glugging fountain, Francis is sitting with his sons on their terrace with a pot of mint tea, the two house dachshunds panting away at their feet. A large peacock bobs past from one side while Doris rolls on the lawn to the other, her hooves kicking in the air like a frolicking puppy. It’s beautifully bizarre and bizarrely beautiful – a gorgeous moment of David Lynch meets David Hockney.

I am reminded later on, while you can clearly take Mrs Smith out of the city, extracting the city from Mrs Smith is a rather more complex procedure. Take our post-supper bottle of rosé (I realise that we are beginning to sound like a pair of alcoholics – but this is a vacation, remember). There we sit, both full to bursting after another delicious in-house tajine, halfway through a gratefully dry and deliciously light bottle of pink that smells like nectarines. The sun has fallen beneath the horizon completely, the rose garden beside our terrace lit only by the terracotta-potted lanterns dotted along the paths between the villas. A cool breeze from the mountains is rustling the leaves of the olive trees. And then the evening chorus starts up…

First comes the rhythm section, the cicadas laying down a softly throbbing tempo. ‘What’s that noise?’ asks my dearest. Then the creaking chatter of guinea fowl a few metres away. The bush beside her judders suddenly. An ominous machine gun croak starts throughout the garden.

‘What’s that?’ Frogs. Big buggers too from the sound of it.

‘And that?’ The goats in their pen.

‘And that?’ Doris is scratching her back on one of the olive trees.

‘And what’s that?’ Why I do believe the locals call those ‘children’. We laugh. God I love this woman.

She takes a deep breath beside me and I watch it all visibly drift away – the final dregs of tension, the last tightness in her shoulders, the little knot between her eyebrows – all of it. Sure we could hop in a car and be in the medina in 15 minutes. Yes we could lap up the chaos of the city’s souks and the restaurants and the bars. But with everything we have here on hand here in Fawakay (the Berber word, incidentally, for fruit), the prospect of leaving our stylish Moroccan hideaway for any reason barely even warrants discussion. The wide world might have its attractions. But this – right here, right now – this is paradise. Complete and perfect.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Fawakay Villas's Guestbook below.

 

SilverSmith

Stayed on 21 Sep 2013

We loved

Villas Fawakay is an oasis in the bustle of Marrakech. Just 10 minutes out of the medina, you're instantly surrounded by palm trees, sun beds and calm. The villas are spacious, beautifully designed and comfortable, the home-cooked food is delicious and Francis and Dawn are the perfect hosts. You can even have spa treatments in your room; there really is no need to go out unless you fancy a shop!

Don’t expect

There's nothing about the villas that doesn't appeal. There's a very laid-back feel there and as long as you relax into the pace of North Africa and don't have crazy expectations, you'll have a restful, fun and luxurious break.

Rating: 10/10 stars