After enjoying another couple of days of exploring in Marrakech, my husband Steve and I were off to experience something entirely different; two days of peace and quiet in the midst of the Atlas Mountains. We were to stay at the not yet opened L'Amandier hotel site in our own private villa, which is something we were massively looking forward to.
We were collected in an air-conditioned estate car by driver, Mohammed, who drove us the hour-long ride into the mountains and was very friendly and knowledgeable. We were informed, whilst high up in the midst of the mountains, that part of the road we were driving on was where the latest Mission Impossible movie was filmed, which was rather exciting!
After a pretty breathtaking journey, which funnily enough was like something out of a film, we turned off the road onto a discreet dusty trail. We slowly travelled along the bumpy side road before the road dipped to reveal a hidden village of red stone buildings dotted across the mountain top. We had arrived at L'Amandier!
I don't know if the dusty and bumpy track to the hotel and villa grounds is meant to make the visual treat at the end even more breathtaking, but that's definitely what it did. We were met by local resident and L'Amandier general manager, Said, who gave us a tour of the hotel and grounds.
During our visit, the site wasn't completely finished as some of the villas were still being built, but the hotel itself is fully furnished and ready to open its doors this autumn. There are only a small amount of bedrooms inside the hotel but each room has a stunning view with its own balcony and use of the infinity pool, which looks onto the Ouirgane National Park. The communal bar and restaurant in the bright and airy basement filled with metallic feature lights, sumptuous rugs, beautiful tiles and a colour scheme of blue and silver against dark wood.
After looking around the picturesque grounds, with the rows after rows of rosemary bushes and expertly maintained greenery, we were taken to our villa. We were staying in a 2-bedroom property, which was minimally and tastefully designed and had a double bedroom, a twin room and two bathrooms. Each villa also has its own kitchen and lounge/dining room along with a private roof terrace, courtyard and garden with a plunge pool.
We had a chef cooking for us for the two days we were there and he was a very pleasant and friendly young man called Badr, who made us some delicious fresh mint tea before leaving us to relax for the afternoon.
It's fair to say that L'Amandier has the most stunning view I think either of us have ever experienced. Set in an enviable position with nothing but mountains to look at, it's spectacular and we spent the afternoon sunbathing, reading books and dipping in and out of our plunge pool enjoying complete quietness and relaxation.
That evening Badr returned with our dinner and he had made a Tomato and Onion Salad with local Bread and a Chicken, Preserved Lemon and Green Olive Tagine, which we enjoyed with some local Gris wine. It was light and delicious and the chicken tagine was perfectly cooked and full of flavour. It felt such a treat to have a chef prepare and cook food for us and clean up afterwards but I also felt like a bit of a spare part and had to stop myself getting up to help.
The following morning we awoke early and sat outside in the sunshine enjoying a cup of tea, making the most of the scenery. We were having lunch at Richard Branson's hotel, Kasbah Tamadot, that afternoon which is only a 20-minute drive from L'Amandier.
When we arrived back later that day, Said took us for a hike through the mountains towards the lake. We were slightly concerned we might pass out through the heat but with hats covering our heads and factor 50 slapped on, we were fine. It was an easy walk through the trees and it was nice to experience all the different views of the mountains and see the stunning lake up close at the Ouirgane National Park.
Fortunately we didn't have to walk all the way back again and were dropped back at the villa, where we sat down to enjoy that evening's feast. Badr had cooked Beef and Prune Tagine and this time had brought some of his Mother's own bread for us to try, which reminded us both of pitta bread and naan bread, and was delicious. Full and tired out, we retired to bed early ready for our morning pick-up from Mohammed the following morning.
Since the hotel isn't open yet and it was a quiet time for the villas, since our visit was during Ramadan, it turned out we were the only guests there for those two days. The quietness definitely took some getting used to, especially at night, and we did feel slightly remote during our visit. I am sure that will all change when the hotel opens and it will be booked up by guests desperate to experience that spectacular view. And so they should - looking out at those mountains is a proper pinch yourself and take it all in moment.
*This blog was originally published on Dotty Dishes, for which they stayed as a guest of the L'Amandier Hotel*