13 March 2012
Check-In With Tom, Domaine Malika, Morocco
Choices, choices, choices; life is full of them and when it comes to thinking about that well deserved flawless holiday, it’s hard to know where to start when there are so many beautiful and magnificent places to stay. So, to make your decision that little bit easier we’ve enlisted travel expert, Tom Marchant, co-founder of award-winning bespoke travel company Black Tomato and founder of PINCH Magazine to give us the insider info on some of his favourite hotels across the globe. It’s safe to say that Tom has stayed in a fair few hotels in his time and so if it gets the Marchant stamp of approval, it must be good. This week, for a luxury yet homely retreat, hidden in the mysterious landscape of the Atlas Mountains, Tom’s pick is Domaine Malika in Ouirgane, Morocco.
Arriving at Domaine Malika was one of those PINCH yourself moments. I found it astonishing that after just a three hour flight from the UK and an hour’s transfer from Marrakech, I was transported into another world where there was an abundance of traditional Moroccan charm combined with modern luxury. Domaine Malika doesn’t fall into the faux Morocco chasm where all things are bathed in half light and sprinkled with token lanterns to remind you of your location. Instead, in a traditional Berber style building, it very successfully creates an atmosphere that is wonderfully eclectic, clean and contemporary. You only need to gaze out of the window at the stunning Atlas Mountains and surrounding valley and you will be well aware of the magnificent location you’ve found yourself in.
Just one hour from Marrakech’s bustling medina, Domaine Malika is nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, surrounded by pine trees and olive groves.
Hidden in the aromatic, subtle and mysterious landscape of the Atlas Mountains, Domaine Malika is the perfect distance from the sights, sounds and smells of buzzing Marrakech. Explore the never ending tunnel of souks before retreating to your idyllic haven of tranquility in Ouirgane. I love to explore my surroundings so was more than happy to set off on a dusty yet fresh journey across the arid terrain before coming back to bask in the sun and bathe in the refreshing waters of the pool. With the 360 degree view of the mountains, it was very hard to move from my settled spot.
For me, it’s the incredible service and hospitality this Moroccan bolt hole has to offer. Family owned and run by a French mother and son, the tender loving care that has been put into the décor and intricate details are highlighted through these consummate hosts without them being intrusive. With a ‘nothing is too much trouble’ attitude, you will feel completely at home as well as being free to revel in the finest of surroundings in a place where the atmosphere is authentic and quite frankly unbeatable.
With just seven rooms, Domaine Malika is intimate yet private. Each room is complete with an open fire creating a cosy atmosphere and features either a private balcony or patio where you can sit and enjoy the calm serenity and views of the Moroccan desert. With even the tiniest of detail tended to, you will be hard pushed to fault these beautiful rooms as their modern take on traditional Morocco works in a way you wouldn’t expect. For me, the suite offered something that little bit special as it is not only separated from the main house allowing for complete and utter privacy, but it is also finished off with earthy tones and 50s décor.
No Moroccan hideaway would be complete without a traditional Hammam and having sampled a few in my time, I can say with confidence that this totally private and utterly replenishing experience is one not to miss. Eliminate all those toxins and inhale a range of purifying essences with a tradition that reaches back for over 1000 years. There are plenty of beauty treatments that are bound to appeal to your senses if the Hammam isn’t your thing, then sometimes I think it’s best to enjoy life’s simple pleasures and merely sit out on the veranda with a glass of traditional Moroccan wine, breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the view.
The French influence of the hosts really shines through in their fresh and delicious food. From the fruit that is picked from the local orchard to the home cooked delights that will grace your table, each meal is cooked to perfection and will leave your taste buds tingling. For foodies like me though, things get even better as you take a private cooking lesson which will not only let you experience the smells and spices of Morocco, but also allows you to recreate that tantalizing taste once you are back to reality.
It has got to be catching the afternoon sun as it landed on my balcony perfectly. With no disturbance but the sounds of the birds and the thought of the delectable dinner that lay ahead of me, it was a true experience of uninterrupted harmony.