Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat

Price per night from$936.92

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 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR863.64), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Slow-tempo arcadia

Setting

High(brow) Atlas

Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat is the labour of love of Prince Fabrizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa, whose aristocratic French-Italian roots trail back to Charlemagne’s era, via Fellini-inspiring playboys, revolutionaries and one of Handel’s most important patrons (for whom the retreat is named). Ruspoli was the driving force behind iconic Marrakech stay La Maison Arabe; but he – and those cosied away in Olinto’s nine very private pavilions – has found the most happiness in a leafy enclave of the High Atlas, where he’s designed, styled and landscaped a timeless botanical paradise. Olinto is filled with his rare antiques and artworks, and is given over to nurturing both rising musical talents and peace-seeking guests – a noble(’s) pursuit enriched with simple pleasures.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A packet of fragrant tea from the Moroccan Botanist

Facilities

Photos Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Nine pavilions. These include three suites which have a separate sitting room and private pool.

Check–Out

Noon, but flexible, subject to availability and on request. Earliest check-in, 2pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £809.20 (€950), including tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include a famously hearty Moroccan breakfast: pastries, fluffy flatbreads, pancakes, homemade exotic jams and yoghurts, honey and amlou (argan oil and almond spread), hot drinks, and eggs as you like them. A two-night minimum stay is required.

Also

The owner descends from the fascinating Roman Ruspoli family line, dating back to a general under Charlemagne in the eighth century. Beginning as papal nobility, the line includes one of Handel’s most important patrons, Marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli, a member of the 17th-century Arcadian Academy (who adopted the Latin pastoral name Olinto). And there are more luminaries in the prince's ancestry: the Marquis de Lafayette, who was influential in the American Revolution; Alessandro ‘Dado’ Ruspoli, who inspired Fellini’s La Dolce Vita; and Charles Haas, who the character Swann in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is based on. And Prince Fabrizio himself has been a pioneer of hospitality, creating the first boutique riad in Marrakech in the 1990s with the iconic La Maison Arabe. Even more impressive, he’s been the sole visionary for Olinto, acting as architect, interior designer and garden creator.

Hotel closed

The hotel closes for a month in the low season from mid July to mid August.

At the hotel

Lush gardens designed by the owner, Atlas Mountain-view courtyards with fountains, roof terrace, flowering pergolas, kitchen garden, ponds, hammam, reception building, boutique, plug adaptors to borrow, laundry service, and free WiFi. In rooms: roof terrace with a day-bed; private garden and courtyard; fireplace; underfloor heating; smart TV with Netflix; desk; selection of Moroccan pastries; free minibar with soft drinks, beer and wine (restocked daily); Nespresso machine; teas from the Moroccan Botanist; and Botanika bath products.

Our favourite rooms

There are just nine pavilions, each fittingly named after a dominant plant here, blown like seeds across the estate. Each is cocooned in its own private walled garden with a courtyard where you can watch the sun set over the Atlas and a day-bed on the roof for sunbathing. Everything here conspires to make your stay as romantic as possible, and Moroccan craftsmanship comes to the fore – attention has been utterly lavished on detail: zouak doors as intricately etched as Arabic script, carved plaster, mashrabiya screens, woven rugs, leather panels, perforated lanterns, etched frames around TVs… Even the tea is rare and precious, in a beautiful wooden box from the Moroccan Botanist boutique. Plus, important pieces from the Prince’s collection of art and antiques have been moved in to add the personal touch that pervades throughout the retreat. There are no let-downs in the bunch, but our picks are the three Pavilions with Private Pools (Lavender, Lantana or Eucalyptus), each of whose private pool comes with a spectacular panoramic view of Atlas peaks.

Poolside

The views continue to be superlative from both of the hotel’s two pools – one sprawling and freeform with edges that match the organic lines of the property’s ponds; the other smaller and heated with a few four-poster day-beds. And you needn’t schlep anywhere except your lounger, because staff are just a Whatsapp alert away (if they’re not already discreetly keeping an eye) for drinks and snacks. The retreat’s three suites each come with a heated infinity pool in their private gardens.

Spa

A Moroccan getaway isn’t complete without hammam-ing it up at least once, and the hotel has a dedicated space for the traditional restorative ritual. And, while there's no official spa here, you can book a range of massages too.

Packing tips

Be prepared to follow in Prince Fabrizio’s footsteps as an aesthete with a collection of beautiful objets – the hotel’s boutique sells furnishings, handicrafts and more.

Also

Staff who’ve been hired from the surrounding Berber villages offer warm polished service and can be summoned via Whatsapp. And, they’ll ferry you about the property by golf cart if needed.

Pet‐friendly

Little dogs are welcome. Owners must pay for any damages caused during their stay. See more pet-friendly hotels in Atlas Mountains.

Children

In the interests of being more ‘shhh’ than ‘shush’, the hotel is for over-16s only.

Sustainability efforts

The hotel has solar panels, fruitful kitchen gardens (and local suppliers to fill in any gaps), energy-efficient water heaters and recycling as standard. Plus the owner has cultivated some truly glorious gardens here, local villagers are hired, and experiences benefit Berber communities, plus many furnishings at the hotel are elegant antiques (which counts as recycling…).

Food and Drink

Photos Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat food and drink

Top Table

It’s rare you get a suite that’s so secluded – there’s even walls to shade you from prying eyes, so take sundowners in your private garden. Otherwise, revel on the bar’s roof terrace with its all-round Atlas views.

Dress Code

Twin with the spectacularly patterned and coloured doors and tiles with zouak- and zellige-inspired pieces.

Hotel restaurant

Being built on a former olive farm, and blessed with thriving kitchen gardens, the hotel restaurant is able to keep both the produce and menus deliciously fresh (and provide lashings of liquid gold to dunk pillowy flatbreads into), shifting with the season. Dishes dabble in flavours from both sides of the Med – with plenty of enticing sweet-savoury combos typical of the region – you might have the likes of surf ’n’ turf briouates, crab tartare with tropical fruit, beef-and-date tagine or rosemary-pimped monkfish skewers. For most of the year, tables are set under a wisteria-entwined pergola as the sun sinks behind the Atlas, but the hotel’s restaurant also has a dining room as elegantly dressed and thoughtfully crafted as your pavilion – hung with early-18th-century art and engravings, coated with colourful zellige and bejmat tiling – with a fireplace for chillier nights.

Hotel bar

Rainbow sprites dance over the sultrier brick, leather and wood interiors of art deco bar Les Zwaks, as sunlight shines through its stained-glass windows. You don’t need any embellishment of the mischief and magic here: with a lost-in-time feel and a drinks list healthily weighted with local and international wines and classic cocktails (plus signatures such as the Olinto Mule with saffron-infused vodka; Marrakech Negroni with star anise, cloves and cinnamon; or raspberry mojito), there’s fun and flirtation afoot. Follow the trail of emerald-green tiles that shine like dragon skin to the roof terrace, where the Toubkal National Park and Moroccan royals’ vast protected hunting grounds make for incredible scenes whichever way you look.

Last orders

Breakfast is from 8am, lunch from 1pm, and dinner from 7pm.

Room service

You can dine in your pavilion’s private garden (or in bed) at all times (there may be delays during restaurant hours).

Location

Photos Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat location
Address
Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat
Douar Marigha
Ouirgane
42152
Morocco

After the owner’s thorough location-hunting, Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat sprung up at the foot of Mount Toubkal in the High Atlas, between the Moroccan royal family’s private hunting grounds and the Toubkal National Park.

Planes

Marrakech Menara is around an hour’s drive away along a scenic rocky route. Taxis cost around €60 one-way; or Olinto can help arrange a private SUV transfer for up to four guests (€120 each way).

Automobiles

If you’re planning to shuttle back and forth between Marrakech or explore further in Morocco, a hire car will be handy. But, there’s a rare kind of peace here, so we suggest you hop in a taxi or transfer, then stay put.

Worth getting out of bed for

Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat enjoys a privileged position within its own microclimate, so even when the surrounding peaks are snow-capped, the estate’s lush greenery endures. Designed by Renaissance man Fabrizio himself, this perfumed idyll of lavender bushes, oleander and rosemary, swaying acanthus, gnarled olive trees, lolling white roses, slender cypress and more are set to reach Majorelle levels of interest (indeed, they’re already being considered as a stop for garden-focused tours). And lucky you gets to stay among them and explore at leisure. More demanding – yet still rewarding – is conquering the peaks of the High Atlas with sure-footed Berber guides or trekking and horseback riding in the foothills, and marvelling at the Tinmel Mosque’s grand corridors of keyhole arches and sacred stonework (please note, the mosque’s interior is closed until 2024). Getting out into the region presents an opportunity to really get to know it and its people, by breaking bread, drinking tea and chatting to families on visits to village houses and lunching on tagine and the like in a mountaintop auberge, and visiting women’s cooperatives to buy beautifully crafted rugs and argan-oil products. And, back at Olinto, you may get invited into Prince Fabrizio’s living room for a piano recital; in his role as patron – and appreciator – of the musical arts, he’s invited rising and arrived stars of the scene (France’s Roger Muraro, Italy’s Pietro Bonfilio, South Korea’s Hyuk Lee…) to give rousing intimate performances (which guests can attend for free) and stay for residencies. And when you’re not in a musical reverie, you’ll be daydreaming among the flowers, sipping a chilled vin gris, getting scrubbed smooth in the hammam, or reaching a state of bliss amid the pools, pergolas and peak views as you do nothing at all.

Local restaurants

There are few restaurants of note close by. But, with Marrakech just an hour’s drive away, you can explore its diverse culinary scene, either a staunch classic like glamorous 1920s art deco hangout Grand Café de la Poste, or somewhere bang up to date like +61, which offers a dose of Aussie sunshine and ingenuity, sustainable practices and traditional preparations for the bread, pasta, cheese and yoghurt they make in house.  

Reviews

Photos Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat reviews
Holly Clark

Anonymous review

By Holly Clark, Scene snapper

We left the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, with its souks, snake charmers and traffic behind, embarking on our journey into the Atlas Mountains. A one-hour drive, the change in scenery made it seem like a world away. Before long, the rugged landscape gave way to manicured gardens – a sort of mountain paradise – and we were greeted by the welcome scent of lavender, eucalyptus and pine.

A well-earned rest with a dose of mountain air was what we were after, and Olinto promised to deliver exactly that. In fact, I was won over before stepping up to the check-in desk, thanks to the chic-in-the-extreme boutique store that sits to the side of the lobby. You won’t find the bargains you can find in the souks here but my goodness, this boutique has been curated with style. I was sold.

The dashing Prince Fabrizio Ruspoli is behind the creation of Olinto, and we were surprised when the man himself strolled in to say hello. Turns out this place is his home, and it veritably oozes with soul. He purchased the sweeping piece of land that was to become Olinto back in 2019, and as the former owner of the well-renowned riad Maison Arabe in Marrakech, a role he found himself in for 40 years, Fabrizio has the hospitality industry in his blood.

The flourishing gardens, and Olinto’s setting within a valley overlooked by the Atlas Mountains, are testament to his love of the land. We learned that his first stipulation during construction was that not one tree was to be felled. As a result, despite Olinto having only opened in September 2022, it feels like it’s been here forever with the buildings cleverly hidden and entwined amongst them.

Some of Morocco’s most accomplished artisans were brought on board to create this special place, and as you walk through its garden and along its pathways, you can feel the patience and passion that went into the craftsmanship. From the vast, sun-dappled dining pergola (made by an ironmonger who lives nearby) to the jaw-dropping redwood bar, every inch is hand-chiselled perfection. That bar, by the way, is quite the spot to order a martini.

Still, before toasting Fabrizio and downing my first cocktail, I couldn’t wait to see our room – though calling it a room feels something of an injustice. The team at Olinto refer to them as pavilions, and you can see why. Set in their own private grounds, each is adorned with rich fabrics, leather walls and furnished with stunning artworks and antiques. Notably, there’s nothing too ‘hotel-y’ in sight: no phone (just WhatsApp from whichever sun-lounger you find yourself on); no room service menu. But I love that – there are no rules here. Order whatever you like or ask for the chef to surprise you.

It was therefore very tempting to remain cocooned in the comfort of our pavilion. We had everything: views of the mountains, a private pool, a roof terrace from which to stargaze, and the occasional call to prayer echoing out across the mountains.

However, there’s much to beckon guests out of their hidey-holes. Olinto is a great base for hikers, mountain bikers or those who’d like to do not much at all. Each day unveiled a fresh, sweet-scented, winding path leading to either a quiet bench or indeed the main pool which, due to its impressive size, at first glance appeared to be a shimmering blue lake in the middle of the mountains. 

All of this and for a maximum of just eighteen guests. This is part of Olinto’s exclusivity. The staff quietly get on with meeting the guests’ every need, effortlessly, efficiently, but without a trace of stuffy formality. It was all very polished, yet underpinned by a sense of pride. None more so than from Dada, who sits quietly and smiling in the gardens, making the home-made bread served at breakfast.

On our last evening Fabrizio had observed how well his guests were getting on over drinks and had, unbeknown to our small group of new friends, arranged for a long table to be prepared so that we could eat and enjoy the rest of the evening together. As we sat under the stars, solo travellers, couples and groups from all over the globe exchanged stories, laughed together and savoured every mouthful. It was then we realised we were all the same; that is, we were all under the Olinto spell.

Book now

Price per night from $936.92