Kasbah Tamadot: The Finest Hotel I Have Ever Stayed In
For our final two days of our honeymoon, we headed up to the Atlas Mountains, to Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot, just outside of a small town called Asni approximately an hour away from Marrakech.
I’m going to start with a simple statement – this is, quite simply, the finest hotel I have ever had the pleasure in which to stay.
Which is not to say that I haven’t stayed in nice hotels before – I have – but the Kasbah Tamadot is something else entirely. Richard Branson bought the hotel on the insistence of his parents that he turn it into the most beautiful hotel in the world. He didn’t fall short.
The Kasbah Tamadot features 27 individually designed rooms and sits in 5 hectares of land, perched atop an outcrop overlooking the creek below and surrounded by the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.
Mercifully, the weather rather improved for the better by the time we left Marrakech, and when we arrived, we were immediately escorted to the terrace and readily supplied with champagne (I think actually it was the Moroccan Brut ‘La Perle du Sud’ – champagne in all but name. You can read my review of La Perle du Sud here.
We were left to ourselves for a little time, while they prepared our room, before being shown around the Tamadot. Thank goodness we were, as there is a maze of paths, stairways and corridors, and whilst finding your way around is not difficult, we definitely benefited from the head start!
We stayed in room 24, otherwise known as ‘Asdeh’, which I believe means ‘kitchen’ – I’m assuming in Berber – as a reference to the room’s original use. The room was beautifully appointed, with many traditional Arabic and Berber pieces. We were greeted by a complimentary bottle of wine in congratulations for our marriage, and a hand written card to the same end. Neither Anna and I drink red wine, so a quick call down to reception had us sipping in exchange a bottle of white in no time.
Lunch is served on the terrace – cue another bottle of La Perle du Sud – where we sat, ate and drank all in the shadow the mountains where, predictably, the food was incredible. Taking our last glasses of champagne (sorry – it sounds less pretentious than Brut), we went for a wander to go and find the menagerie. There is a working stables at the back of the property where you are free to go and greet the goats, donkeys, camels and peacocks. The camels are friendly (provided they are bribed with carrots), and the less confrontational goats wander around the small paddock.
Dinner on Friday night was the a la carte menu. I started with a dry gin martini to start, but was a little surprised to see when it arrived that it had been shaken. I don’t profess to be James Bond, and in any case, the man was drinking watered-down booze. It was pleasant enough, but a shaken martini just doesn’t have the edge that a stirred one does. In addition, after shaking, it hadn’t been strained, so arrived with shards of ice floating on top.
We were presented first with an amuse bouche of a soup with a bacon foam, dusted with a little paprika; then for appetisers, beef and mushroom croquettes followed by a cockerel confit. For wine we enjoyed a Moroccan viognier, which was sweet and well-suited to the dishes.
After dinner, we headed to the Asmoun Lounge for some after dinner drinks and a little pool. There is a small honesty bar here, a selection of cigars and a pool table. There was a group already encamped in there, who took it upon themselves to order cocktails, over-complicate them, then complain when they weren’t right. I’m going to be writing about this separately. Again, the service in here was impeccable. Anna put her cigarettes on the bar, and was quickly presented with an ash tray. Then, as soon as I pulled out my cigar (Davidoff Puro D’Oro Sublimes) I was offered a cigar ash tray and a box of cedar spills with which to light it. Unfortunately, the room wasn’t amazingly ventilated, and had the heating turned up to ‘11’. Anna quickly found herself feeling quite unpleasant as a result of the hotboxing offered by the myriad smokers and heat, so we finished up and headed to bed.
Day 2: It’s Margarita Time Somewhere
At breakfast the next morning, the indulgence continued. Freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice, pastries, and a cooked option should you wish. I thought I would address the elephant in the room and have the breakfast tagine out of sheer curiosity. Well, it was amazing. Simple, but amazing, and fresh. Cooked traditionally, it’s meatballs cooked in a tomato sauce, topped with two fried eggs and fresh parsley.
Time for the pool. It’s 11am, and that’s margarita time somewhere. There we sat, drinking, reading, chatting and enjoying the view until lunch. We ate late, as the terrace was obviously busy, and we were just happy sitting near-comatose by the pool. When we arrived, we were greeted by the customer service manager, who then showed us to our table and made sure our bottle of champagne was bought up from by the pool.
We booked a late dinner to maximise our enjoyment of our last day. At 7pm we headed to the library where pre-dinner drinks were being served. A couple of cocktails (Cosmo for Anna, Caiprinha for me) over a game of chess, another bottle of champagne, then a cigar (Davidoff Nicaraguan Primeros) by the reflecting pool, with another martini (stirred by-request). Dinner was a 5 course Moroccan tasting menu, complete with wine flight as well. The staff were more than happy to swap the one red wine in the selection for a chardonnay.
Two major highlights of the final dinner of our stay at the Tamadot. One, the pea fritters, which were these amazing deep-fried croquettes, filled with the most beautifully seasoned peas. I did wonder whether a touch of mint may have finished them off (maybe it’s a mushy peas thing), but I certainly was in no way disappointed with them.
The second highlight, was a hilarious moment where Anna decided to tap-out on the wine. So, I told one of the waiters, “My wife doesn’t want any more wine, so only wine for me please.” I was surprised to find that for the main course, Anna’s dish arrived and so did my wine. I sat for while thinking my lamb would be coming, but it didn’t materialise. I collared someone, and it would appear that my request had been taken rather literally in translation – they had indeed brought no more wine for Anna and only wine for me. Anyway, we laughed, and they quickly brought out the lamb and apologised profusely… though it was by far the funniest and thus entirely forgiveable mistake.
Then, unfortunately, we had to leave. Seriously, get yourself to the Kasbah Tamadot. Find a way. Do it.