Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Kasbah Tamadot

Rates from (ex tax)$581.85

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (MAD6,550.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Sir Richard's splendid retreat

Setting

Tamed mountainside

The enchanting Kasbah Tamadot hotel – located in the High Atlas Mountains near Asni – is maze of serene courtyards, secret staircases and pristine gardens encased by an ancient wall. Mountain views are especially marvellous from the master suite, a scaled-down copy of the Kasbah itself, although we're quite taken with the swagged Berber-style tents. Play with the friendly goats and donkeys on the farm, watch Casablanca in the open air with a backdrop of mighty peaks and enjoy the total serenity when you're this far away from it all.

Smith Extra

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A luxurious leather luggage tag per guest

Facilities

Photos Kasbah Tamadot facilities

Need to know

Rooms

28, including eight suites (one with private pool), a three-bedroomed master suite, and ten tented suites, six with private Jacuzzis.

Check–Out

Noon. Earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $581.85 (MAD5,458), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (MAD6,550.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates include breakfast. Full-board is available for an extra MAD900 each a day (MAD450 for children). Half-board is MAD500 (MAD250 for children).

Also

The retreat's core values involve supporting the local communities; initiatives include free English lessons, the hiring of local staff, a focus on sustainable development and energy-saving efforts. When Branson left his mother Eve in charge of the hotel, his one stipulation was that she take care of the community – a responsibility she takes very seriously. The Eve Branson Foundation supports several local craft workshops, who sell their wares in the on-site gift shop; 30 per cent of the profits goes back to the community, too. The hotel holds frequent open-air cinema nights too, where guests sit under the stars under tents pitched on a hillside – there's not much of a selection though: Casablanca is the only film screened.

At the hotel

Spa, gym, farm, landscaped gardens, heated mountain-view infinity pool, heated indoor pool, sauna, hammam, floodlit tennis courts, book-filled salon with internet access, log fire, TV/DVD, gift shop, many excursions, including trekking and horse riding.

Our favourite rooms

The Aman room (deluxe suite with pool) is a wonderful place to have breakfast outside. The Tazart Room has a carved wood ceiling and stunning green bathroom. The Jacaranda room also has a ceiling worth ogling and beautiful terrace. The Master Suite is the ‘mini Kasbah’, occupying two floors. All rooms have a smattering of antiques Branson inherited from the former owner Luciano Tempo, a well-renowned antiques dealer.

Poolside

After you're guided through the Kasbah's meandering entranceway, the pool reveals itself in spectacular fashion. A brilliant blue rectangle sunk into a small valley, it's set so swimmers can gaze up at the Atlas beyond. Sunloungers line the sides and staff are on the ball with drinks and snacks, if desired. If there's a slight nip in the air, enjoy lazy laps in the heated indoor pool.

Spa

The four-room Asonfou Spa offers treatments from wraps and facials to massages and hammam treatments. There are also Watsu pools, mud rooms and hot springs to soothe aching muscles. We like the damask rose-infused facial and the headily scented Le Sens de Marrakech products.

Packing tips

Layers in autumn and winter; walking boots.

Also

No pets; no smoking.

Children

Children are welcome on set dates. From 1 April–1 May, 27 May–4 June, 1 July–5 September, 14 October–5 November, and 16 December–7 January; kids stay free in parents rooms, and activities (treasure hunts, tea parties, cooking lessons and more) are held.

Overview

During school holidays, this sophisticated retreat invites children to join in games and cultural activities. Children under 11 stay for free too.

Best for

Juniors and tweens.

Activities

Packed activity programmes are held at various dates throughout the year – mostly during school holidays. From 16–23 February, 5–27 April, 5 July to 31 August, 18 October to 2 November, and 13 December to 10 January kids can ride mules as long as they're accompanied by their parents, or pet the hotel's resident mules (Peppermint, Peanut and Paprika), camels (Pickle and Pumpkin) and donkeys (Pudding, Plum and Peaches); cook traditional Moroccan dishes; go on treasure hunts; get mini manicures; go for a four-wheel drive ride in the mountains; take part in table-tennis tournaments; experience a Moroccan tea party and learn about the local flora and fauna on a nature walk. There are also DVDs to watch and board games in the lounge.

 

Meals

The hotel has a young diners menu, which has a few familiar favourites and some more exotic Moroccan fare (from MAD50–70 a dish). Children get free soft drinks and ice-cream throughout their stay too.

Babysitting

Is available for MAD120 an hour; must be booked in advance.

Food and Drink

Photos Kasbah Tamadot food and drink

Top Table

Have lunch by the infinity pool, and ask the hotel to book you one of the hotel’s secluded spots for a romantic dinner.

Dress Code

Dressed-down glam.

Hotel restaurant

Kanoun restaurant has two terraces to choose from, one by the pool and one on the rooftop. Food – whipped up by chef Benoit Pépin and his team – is a mix of sophisticated Moroccan, African and international offerings, and there’s an impressive wine list.

Hotel bar

There is a pool bar and a fireside bar in the Kanoun restaurant. The Asmoun lounge is a souped-up Berber tent on the inside, with colourful textiles and rugs, and souk-sourced lanterns, and the less-traditional addition of a bar and a few stools. Its terrace, naturally, comes with views of the Atlas' most eyecatching high-rises. Alternatively, hit the roof: the terrace offers the best bird's eye aspect of your surroundings. Champagne, local and international wines and a tempting range of cocktails can be 

Last orders

Breakfast is from 7.30am until 10.30am; lunch is between noon and 2.30pm; dinner is from 7.30pm until 10.30pm. The bar shuts at midnight.

Room service

Breakfast from 6am to 12pm; snacks from 11am to 11pm; the dinner menu is available on request. Snacks can be summoned poolside between 11am and 6pm.

Location

Photos Kasbah Tamadot location
Address
Kasbah Tamadot
Kasbah Tamadot, BP 67,
Asni, Atlas Mountains
42152
Asni, Atlas Mountains
Morocco

Planes

The nearest airport is Marrakech’s Menara Airport – you can 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). Transfers from the airport take around 45 minutes.

Automobiles

Driving in Morocco can be daunting, but it gets easier outside of the congested cities. Should you want to drive, hire a car at the airport from Avis (www.avis.com). From Marrakech follow the signs to Tahannaoute and Asni for about 42km until you reach Asni. As you leave Asni, take the turning on the left and follow this road for 4.5km until you see Kasbah Tamadot on the left.

Worth getting out of bed for

The hotel will happily keep you busy, offering guests the chance to try mule trekking, hiking, mountain biking, guided tours of Marrakech, market trips, visits to local workshops and other activities. In between all that, get acquianted with the hotel's fluffier residents: four mules, three donkeys, several rambunctious goats and the two camels who live on the estate's bijou farm. 

Local restaurants

There's not much choice in the mountains, unless you befriend a nearby Berber family, who may well be happy to feed you. For ease, and because the food is extremely tasty, we recommend going half- or full-board at the Kasbah.

Reviews

Photos Kasbah Tamadot reviews
Scott Manson

Anonymous review

Some get their kicks hurling themselves down snow-covered mountains with planks of wood attached to their feet; others order highly poisonous (and hideously expensive) fugu fish in Japanese restaurants and hope the prep chef threw the right bits away. After a visit to Marrakech, however, I can confirm that comparable thrills can be had by anyone willing to hop into a city-centre taxi.

As a general rule, it seems, you slow down for donkeys and speed up for dogs. Donkeys will get out of the way eventually, as will pedestrians. Dogs are virtually impossible to hit, so cabbies just drive straight at them. Stop completely for either species, and you get stuck in a crowd for whom trying to flog you cartons of cigarettes and strings of sweets is just their way of saying hello.

We also quickly pick up on the etiquette of when you use the horn. That is: (a) when the car is moving; (b) when the car is stationary; (c) at all other times. And yet, despite the apparent chaos of Marrakech’s teeming streets, there is method in the mayhem. Not once do we see a car crash, or even an example of donkey-driver rage. The trick as a newly arrived tourist is to just relax into it, although this can be tricky if you have a friendly driver who wants to practice his English phrases.

‘You are from England? I have a cousin in London,’ says our chap, turning around to give us a winning smile.

‘That’s great, but you’d better look out for that donkey gridlock up ahead.’

‘Is that near Stanmore? His shop is there.’

What blessed relief then, to be met for the transfer to our luxury north African retreat by the charming and loquacious Abdul III (two other Abduls were already employed at Kasbah Tamadot when he started). The 45-minute drive in the back of an air-conditioned VW 4x4 is an absolute delight in comparison with the sweaty bustle of Marrakech’s dusty streets.

It’s a inspirational journey, and gives you a different take on Morocco. The road winds up through the Atlas Mountains, passing 1,000-year-old Berber villages which, if you removed the electricity poles and kids in logo’d T-shirts, would look much the same as when they were built by nomadic tribes. A big part of Tamadot’s charm is the way it fits with these surroundings.

It is perched dramatically on the edge of a valley, with snow-capped mountains as a backdrop; it is clear why Richard Branson was so taken by the location. Apparently, when the tousle-haired tycoon used the Kasbah as a base prior to his 1998 attempt at a round-the-world balloon record, his mother was so taken with it that Sir Richard decided to add it to his stable of holiday outposts. Seven years later, Kasbah Tamadot was born: a boutique hotel in the Atlas Mountains. With its landscaped gardens, five-star spa and infinity pool looking across the valley to an ancient village, it combines atmosphere with luxury in a most relaxing way.

Given the lateness of the hour, Mrs Smith and I expect nothing more than a cup of mint tea when we arrive. The staff, bless them, clap their hands with delight when they see our surprise at being offered a full meal in the restaurant. We are whisked past carved doors, Indonesian statues, elaborate mosaics and silver chairs on the way up to our table. We’re lucky enough to have arrived on the night of the traditional Berber feast and, if the contented smiles of our fellow diners are anything to go by, it’s going to be a waistband-loosening treat.

It starts innocently enough: a few buttery pastries and a tangy Moroccan salad, with some fresh-baked flatbread. The latter is so good I wolf it down like a man who’s not sure when he’ll eat again. Big mistake. The main course of tagine arrives and the ‘feast’ bit begins to make sense. For the uninitiated, a tagine is a domed clay pot designed for slow cooking. In days of old, such a method was necessary to render tough cuts of meat edible. Here and now at Tamadot, married with the finest ingredients, it brings out the richness of every flavour, from sweet dates to savoury stock. It’s a complex and delicious dish. Or dishes – four of them, to be exact: beef, chicken, fish and vegetable tagines, all spread on our table. We briefly wonder whether someone might be joining us – a herd of tribesmen, perhaps – but no, this is for two reasonably hungry Londoners. We’re determined to show the chef that he kept his kitchen open for good reason.

We waddle off afterwards, giggling and giddy with the sheer loveliness of it all, following a candlelit pathway until we come to our room. With its elaborately carved ceiling, highly covetable dark-wood wardrobe and enormous rainfall shower, it’s the sort of place that makes you hum with quiet contentment. And when I wake up briefly in the middle of the night, there’s none of that ‘where the hell am I?’ oddness. We left the curtains open because, frankly, we were too full of food to move much, so when I open my eyes at 4am I see a great silver moon shining over the mountains. Taking stock of my surroundings before drifting off again, I have that most delightful of hotel moments: the thought of ‘Oh yes, everything’s all right here’. Content, remote and in a blissful bed with your nearest and dearest – if there’s a better thought on waking up, I’ve yet to find it.

There are only 27 rooms here, so service is excellent. Besides the spa treatments, you can go ballooning, trekking or riding, or play tennis. Our days consist of lying by that stunning pool, gazing over the valley and being embarrassingly romantic. Sorry, but it really is that kind of place. There’s also a library with surprisingly good contemporary novels to choose from. Although the Kasbah’s chill-out ethos means no TVs, the staff are happy to fetch one for you if you ask, and there’s a DVD menu featuring Virgin’s current top 50 choices. When we’re feeling particularly slothful one night, we take this option: the tiny Moroccan chap who brings a TV set to our room is so bent under the huge telly that we feel we have to tip him handsomely.

Afterwards, we figure that we probably parted with a small fortune for the favour, but Tamadot inspires this sort of behaviour. There’s such a sense of bonhomie and general good feeling that throwing a few dirhams around seems a trifling matter. Opulent, tranquil and about as far removed from the madness of Marrakech as you can get, Kasbah Tamadot is a flawless operation, and perfect for a long weekend of lounging and loving.

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 Kasbah Tamadot’s Guestbook below.

We loved

The peace and quiet, and the view from our terrace. The market in Ansi on Saturday morning is definitely worth going to.

Don’t expect

The movie was disappointing, more choice needed. Casablanca is out of date.

Rating

Stayed on 6 Aug 2017

We loved

The staff, the activities (hiking, tennis, pool, games), the views and the food.

Don’t expect

Nightlife, although there are plenty of corners to discover with fireplaces, indoor table pool etc, or have a hookah under the tents outside.

Rating

Stayed on 3 Jul 2017

We loved

The Berber Tent, superb attention to detail, warm and friendly staff, relaxed atmosphere with small touches that make it a true 5 star hotel. 

Don’t expect

The one thing that disappointed us was that after every spa treatment there was a hard sell to buy their products. It happened to both my husband and I on numerous occasions and by different spa staff members. It left a bitter taste in the mouth after a relaxing treatment.

Rating

Stayed on 24 Apr 2016

We loved

Absolutely super experience. Very relaxing. Very looked after. Found them extremely accommodating.

Don’t expect

Much nightlife.

Rating

Stayed on 18 Nov 2015