Morocco is fast becoming a must-visit short-haul destination for UK customers, with an estimated 50 flights boasting around 9,000 seats per week from major airlines including easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways. In the summertime, temperatures reach a scorching average high of 37C, nevertheless it also makes for a incredible winter sun getaway, with average highs in December reaching 20C. To top it off, the typical flight time from London to Marrakech is just three hours and half-hour.
A mere 10km from the colourful epicentre of the town sits Atlas Widan, a surprising boutique hotel modelled around a conventional Moroccan Riad. Historically built as homes of the rich, a Moroccan Riad is a multiple-story property, built around an open-air courtyard, typically with a fountain.
Atlas Widan takes these elements and adds an opulent and modern twist on what it describes because the “Moroccan art of living”. Expect subtle elegance with a splash of color, mosaic tiles and delightful Berber rugs.
The hotel did not have the best begin to life, with its grand opening in February 2020 quickly overshadowed by the looming presence of the pandemic. Despite this, hotel owner and General Secretary of the Regional Council of Tourism in Marrakech, Mustapha Amalik safely welcomed guests where possible throughout and Atlas Widan’s popularity has only been growing since.
From weddings to bat mitzvahs, couples’ holidays to family gatherings, the hotel caters to a far-reaching number of guest needs, all set to the tranquil backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. And whether you are searching for peace and quiet or a jam-packed adventure, the hotel is a incredible base – with the colorful souks and thriving Médina only a 20-minute drive away.
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Housed throughout the principal Riad are eight suites, split between the bottom and upper floor. The roomy Junior Suites, where I spent my stay, are perfect for solo travellers or couples. Tadelakt, a conventional Moroccan plaster constructed from limestone, creates the graceful curves of the room which run seamlessly from the Moorish arch surrounding the bed through to the toilet sink and stunning teal bathtub.
Though the room stays true to Moroccan heritage, modern comforts are provided, including a luxurious bathrobe and slippers, natural toiletries, a hair dryer, free WiFi and satellite television.
By day, the room is shiny and airy, with golden sunlight flooding through the vast windows, and once the curtains are drawn it becomes an undisturbed haven for a restful night.
The Premium Suites, positioned on the upper floor, include two double beds perfect for families or groups. Guests can throw open the double doors each morning and step onto the terrace, where they shall be greeted by views of the majestic snow-capped Atlas Mountains.
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Douiras and Villas
In addition to the principal Riad, Atlas Widan also provides private properties for guests in search of slightly more room. Situated within the gardens are the Douirias: ‘little houses’ that are separate spaces inside a conventional Riad. Each small home spans an area of 36m2, and offers a big double bed, a toilet with shower, a lounge area and a terrace with a non-public garden.
On a grander scale are the villas, luxurious two- and four-bedroom homes away from home, but with the round the clock service one would expect of a high-end hotel. Warm tones and stunning Moroccan design features run throughout, with the brilliant and spacious lounge leading out to a non-public swimming pool and panoramic terrace area.
Services and Amenities
Bathed in color and dappled in sunlight, the stunning yellow Riad is surrounded by 4 hectares of lush gardens and greenery, providing a secluded haven. The principal courtyard centres around a trickling fountain, while a swimming pool nestled behind the Riad welcomes guests to chill off on sweltering summer days. Though I didn’t brave a December dip during my stay, Mustapha says he has hopes to heat the pool in future to permit for year-round swimming. The curved pool loungers are an elegant spot to soak in some vitamin D, and an adjoining pergola is an ideal spot for a shady lunch.
The hotel offers a choice of authentic experiences, including a cooking class and a conventional Moroccan mint tea ceremony, all making use of the plants grown within the Atlas Widan gardens. Venturing beyond the complex is simple enough, with reception staff available to assist book and arrange automotive transfers to and from the town, in addition to other surrounding tourist attractions.
But there’s also a heavy concentrate on rest here, and on days when you ought to skip the sensory explosion of Marrakech, the spa is available to supply time-honoured cultural treatments. Situated within the basement of the hotel, the spa is a dark and sensual space, bathed in twinkling candlelight. One in every of the spa’s specialities is the hammam, using a mixture of black salt and steam to melt and nourish the skin. On top of advantages for the skin, the treatment relaxes the mind and body, together with boosting the immune system by increasing circulation and opening pores to release toxins.
Food and dining
Dining at Atlas Widan is a comfortable affair, with lounges connected to the principal interior courtyard, in addition to space to enjoy dinner with a view on the upper terrace. The kitchen is open from breakfast until dinner, with a menu of freshly made dishes using entirely locally sourced ingredients.
Consequently, the menu changes seasonally, shining a light-weight on the unique flavours of Moroccan gastronomy present in dishes equivalent to Harira soup, pumpkin tajine or honey-glazed poached pears. The chef also works with local producers, incorporating regionally-mad olive oil, honey and jams.
Junior Suites start from €180 (roughly £156) per night, Premium Suites start from €240 (£209) per night and Villas start from €600 (£523) per night. All room rates include breakfast. Visit AtlasWidan.com for more information.