Unlike so many hotels in the foothills of the Atlas which are really suburban outposts of Marrakech with mountain views, Kasbah Angour is the real thing. A real castle set high in the hills amongst authentic Berber villages yet only a 45-minute ride from Marrakech airport.
This beautiful 10-acre compound and the insight it seeks to offer into local life is all the more remarkable because it is the creation of a Brit with a passion for Morocco. Paul Foulsham built his collection of bungalow-style rooms set in botanical gardens and underpinned by a tower at each end on an enviable hillside plot less than a decade ago, harnessing the best of local workmanship. All the terracotta, ziggurats and artisan wood and tile one could wish for are in place, brought alive with colourful local textiles and pottery.
Bedrooms are simply but tastefully furnished in traditional style, many with wooden-beamed ceilings and shutters warmed with colourful rugs and throws, their bathrooms boasting fabulous mirrors and Moroccan toiletries. While some rooms are set into a ravine, those on the upper levels of the towers – buildings which can be exclusively rented by a family or group – enjoy far-reaching views, like ours, worth climbing two flights for to enjoy a balcony from which to enjoy our own private vistas of the Atlas.
There is a charming, beautifully-decorated restaurant where simple but authentic Berber dishes are served, and on the outdoor terrace, we enjoyed a salade Nicoise lunch which shows the cooks can do French-Mediterranean, another strong influence in Moroccan cuisine, just as well. Paul knows his Moroccan wines and offers good homegrown reds and roses by the glass. There is also a dedicated bar, and a shop with an excellent range of well-priced locally sourced ceramics and textiles
The unheated pool comes into its own in summer, and even in winter, the exquisitely-planted gardens showcasing shrubs and trees native to the Atlas are a real treat to explore. Mod cons have not been shunned; underfloor heating and air-con keep guests toasty in winter when sunshine is abundance but early mornings and nights can be chilly, and cool in the heat of summer.
Charming as it is, Kasbah Angour is really intended as a base for visitors interested in exploring local culture, and at least half a day’s outing with a local guide is recommended. Market day in the nearby town of Tahanaout offers the chance to visit an authentic souk outside which hundreds of donkeys bringing farmers down from the hills to shop for the week or sell their homegrown wares are parked. There’s an option to wander back across dry river beds through beautiful villages and get a real sense of Atlas rural life.
Guests are also offered suggested routes for individual hikes, and there are more ambitious outings involving mule treks, picnics and an overnight trip to ascend Mount Toubkal, a mecca for climbers. However, Kasbah Angour is also a peaceful retreat for those who want to bring a book and just hang out, and while there is no television, a monitor in the bar area can be harnessed to play choice pickings from a DVD library. But mostly, this place is about serenity.
Tell me more about Kasbah Angour Hotel, Marrakech
Kasbah Angour Douar Toufsirine Aghouatim Tahanaout 42300 Marrakech Morocco
T: +212 (0)6 61 95 42 14
Rooms from £113 double b&b
How do I get to Kasbah Angour?
Ryanair serves Marrakech from London and Liverpool from €27.46 each way; the hotel offers airport pick up.