The slight breeze is welcoming after a day of intense heat. Sitting on the terrace, sipping mint tea and looking out over the serene vista of the Oasis I knew we had landed in a peaceful paradise.
The earthy, terracotta Kasbah is only a few miles away from the large town of Ouarazate, nestled into the heart of a small community. Just one mosque and a couple of boutique style shops make up this little town of orange coloured, single stacked homes. Next door is a second Kasbah renowned for its backpacking qualities with small luxuries and a further Kasbah that is currently being renovated back to its former glory by local families.
After 12 years of determination, Kasbah Ellouze has been loving restored by Colette and Michel, whom previously owned a Jazz Club in France. Speaking to Colette, when they arrived they didn’t even have running water, something that is easily taken for granted and expected by her guests. Relaxing by the sun drenched pool you would be forgiven if you struggle to imagine a time when flushing a toilet or having a shower was impossible.
Each room is unique – the 2 smaller rooms look out over Olive and Almond groves and vast Atlas Peaks, whilst the 8 suites have varying views of the Kasbah and town. This area provides the back drop for films like Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator and looking out across the terrace you can envisage the landscape looking exactly the same during ancient times.
The tranquil atmosphere of Kasbah Ellouze extends further than just the terraces; it exudes from the heart of this welcoming little gem – the soothing running water from the fountain in the courtyard to the labyrinth of little rooms feeding off the corridors, this is a home away from home.
Having dinner on the side terrace each evening, mixing with other guests, enjoying a substantial homely meal you can begin to daydream, wondering what it would be like to live in a palatial, desert Kasbah just like this. Surrounded by nature, waking up each morning to the sound of the Swallows that have also chosen to call this place home, life would certainly be at a relaxed pace.
The staff here are truly amazing; day and night they are attentive and always smiling. Even Omar, who has the tough job of carrying suitcases and bags from the nearby drop off point through to your rooms always has a big grin, broadly spread across his face especially when he is looking after his caravan of camels.
Tamdaght may seem, at a glance, an unusual area to visit, a bit off the beaten track, away from the main cities associated with tourism in Morocco, but with its wealth of interesting, varied landscape, not to mention its many appearances in blockbuster films, there is plenty for even the most adventurous amongst us. Close to both Ait Benhaddou and Ouarzazate, if a day relaxing by the pool is not for you, these are a must. Walking around the winding, steep alleyways of Ait Benhaddou you could visualise yourself as a film extra in the next big classic, just don’t go in the heat of the afternoon sun – you may regret it! Alternatively, take a quad bike out from Ouarzazate and speed around the open countryside exploring not only the film studios but also the surrounding mountain terrain.
If you would like to experience a taste of Morocco outside the big cities, away from tourism regeneration – this delightful retreat is a must!