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Exploring the Atlas Mountains, just a few hours from Marrakech, provides a glimpse into Berber life. Whether you’re hiking Mount Toubkal or enjoying a romantic holiday lounging poolside, book one of these top Moroccan hotels.
The Atlas Mountains are an idyllic location for trekking during the spring and summer months. Many flock here to hike the highest mountain Morocco has to offer, Toubkal, at 4,167m (13,671ft) above sea level. During the winter, you can even ski at Oukaïmeden. Explore the remote valleys in the region, dotted with Berber villages, or head into the hills on a camel trek. This is the true off-the-beaten-track side to Morocco.
Located in the Ouirgane Valley, just 45 minutes from Marrakesh, L’Amandier has views of the nearby mountains from its infinity pool, while the rooms benefit from breathtaking views of smaller peaks and red soil that covers the valley. With nothing but nature for miles, this is an ideal spot for those looking to escape city life. Start the day with a private yoga lesson before joining one of the hotel’s guided Berber treks with a picnic en-route.
Perched in Toubkal National Park in the High Atlas Mountains, Douar Samra is a rustic, family-run retreat with a welcoming feel. Choose between one of four bedrooms in the main house, a mini garden suite or a treehouse. Its owner Jacqueline will welcome you, while Mina will cook up a traditional Berber feast for breakfast and dinner. Tech-addicts should ask for a room with electricity, some are only lit by candlelight. Douar Samra is the perfect base for hiking Mount Toubkal or short day treks through the local area. Return to a crackling log fire in the winter.
Luxury meets nature at this boutique hotel featuring only 28 rooms and suites, many with their own private pools. Wander through the hotel grounds, and you may just be surprised by the surrounding beauty. After all, it was during a ballooning trip over the region that owner Sir Richard Branson purchased the kasbah. Gain a deeper understanding of the local culture during a unique excursion – hike with a local guide, take a mule trek through the Atlas Mountains, or head off to visit the Tin Mal Mosque, one of two mosques open for non-Muslims to visit in Morocco.
This little gem is one of the finest places to stay in the Aït Bougmez Valley. Just eight simple rooms make up the Touda Ecolodge, but it’s the community atmosphere that makes the hotel come alive. Sip mint tea by the fire, or get your hands dirty in the kitchen, and learn about Moroccan cooking. There’s also a traditional tadelakt hammam that you’re welcome to use. The hiking opportunities from here are endless – cross the mountain range that leads to Lake Izourar, or meet the local villagers closer to base.
With 360-degree views of the Atlas Mountains in the heart of Toubkal National Park, Kasbah du Toubkal is the perfect starting point for day treks or when returning from the summit of Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. Just to get to your room, it’s a 100-metre (328ft) climb uphill (don’t worry, there are mules on hand to carry your luggage). Each of the 15 rooms has a mountain view; larger groups should book the garden room with a kitchenette and private terrace.
Mark Nayler contributed additional reporting to this article.