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Kasbah Tamadot, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Lisa Kjellsson gives us the rundown of Richard Branson's luxurious Moroccan retreat, Kasbah Tamadot hotel

The Credentials

The story of how Richard Branson found a treasure-filled fortress hidden away in the Atlas Mountains and turned it into a luxury retreat is nothing short of serendipitous. In 1998 he went to Morocco with the goal of circumnavigating the globe in a hot air balloon. There to support him were his parents, Eve and Ted, and when they stumbled upon a secluded kasbah with sweeping views of the peaks they convinced their son to buy it. Built in the 1920s for a local governor and later owned by the antiques dealer Luciano Tempo, Kasbah Tamadot is still decorated with ornate trunks and furniture, delicately carved bronze sculptures and alabaster vases, and paintings and wall tapestries sourced from India, Indonesia, North Africa and the Middle East. But despite the eclectic aesthetics, the vibe is distinctly Moroccan – the friendly staff are almost exclusively from the local Berber community and will proudly teach you to cook a tasty tagine or take you on a guided tour of nearby villages. Not to be missed is a visit to the artisanal workshops run by the Eve Branson Foundation, where young people are taught traditional woodwork, carpet weaving and embroidery – which alongside education, healthcare and environmental initiatives showcase the transformative power of regenerative tourism in remote corners of the world.


While the Kasbah is only around an hour’s drive south of Marrakech, it’s a world away from the mesmerising madness of the Red City – and unsurprisingly the fresh air and stillness prove much more conducive to a good night’s sleep. Regardless of room category, you can expect a sumptuous king-size bed framed by Islamic wall art, elegantly draped curtains, Berber rugs, leather pouffes, and a smattering of tastefully curated objets d’art against an earthy colour palette – the effect is a seductive old-world ambience. If you are in one of the deluxe rooms or superior suites you’ll enjoy a private balcony or terrace, but either way, the views are inspiring – you’ll look out onto the mountains, gardens or a courtyard with a petal-filled pool straight out of a fairytale. For those looking for something with even more wow factor, there is also the option of booking into a private pool villa resembling a little castle in its own right, or one of 10 luxury tents discretely tucked away in the lush gardens, all enjoying complete privacy and unparalleled views of the Asni valley. Soak them up while relaxing on a sun lounger on your private deck, or in the hot tub with a glass of bubbly in hand.


Tuck into freshly baked flatbreads and homemade jams at breakfast – a mix of buffet and a la carte, served on a terrace overlooking the valley. Come evening you can choose between dining al fresco next to the infinity pool or on the rooftop terrace while watching the sunset – or even somewhere private just for two – and there is also the option of a dining room oozing elegance where you can order an aperitif at the bar. The dinner menu changes daily and features Moroccan and international dishes made with locally sourced produce – much of it grown in the Kasbah’s own fruit and veg garden, where you’ll find no less than 22 different tomato varieties, an olive grove and fruit trees laden with apples, apricots, peaches and pears.

The Spa

It won’t take long to unwind in such serene surroundings, but you’re on holiday so why not head straight for the spa? In this part of the world, the obvious choice of treatment is the traditional hammam ritual where you are scrubbed from top to toe until your skin is as pure and soft as the day you were born. However, due to Covid safety measures, the bijou Asounfou Spa’s hammam is currently closed. In normal times it’s a total treat – you’ll be lathered with savon beldi (a soap made with argan oil, olive oil and eucalyptus oil), then scrubbed with a kessa glove, before having a rhassoul clay mask applied all over your body. Lastly, a massage with argan oil leaves you in a state of utter bliss – and luckily massages are still on the menu alongside a range of other skincare and body treatments for both men and women.

The Crowd

Hiking boots by day; penny loafers in the evening.

Out & About

Start the day with a guided walk around the next-door village of Tagadirt, where the traditional mudbrick houses glow in hues of pink and terracotta in the golden hour after sunrise. The local community of Berber farmers are famed for their hospitality and you’ll likely be welcomed into a family home to enjoy a glass of sweet mint tea. Keen hikers can explore the trails around the village of Imlil, 14 kilometres away, with views of North Africa’s highest peak, Mount Toubkal.

The Best Thing

While the Kasbah is certainly family-friendly, with a petting zoo known as the Mule Palace which is also home to some rather adorable Chinese cashmere goats, the secluded location and dreamy atmosphere make it a quintessential honeymoon retreat. Don’t miss the twice-weekly outdoor cinema nights – for what could be more romantic than watching Casablanca under the stars?

The Worst Thing

Depending on the time of year, you may struggle with the heat. If visiting in summer, schedule excursions for early morning before temperatures soar, and later retreat to a shady spot by the pool or enjoy a cooling cocktail in the Kasbah’s Asmoun lounge with views of the sprawling valleys below.

The Details

Rooms at Kasbah Tamadot are priced from £505, luxury tents from £834

Kasbah Tamadot, BP 67, 42152 Asni, Morocco; +212 5243-68200


Airport Transfer

Wheely, the luxury ride-hailing service, offers transfers to Heathrow from £50, Gatwick from £90. Wheely journeys are available to book on-demand and in advance through the app, and for pre-booked transfers from airports. Wheely offers a complimentary meet and greet service in Arrivals. All chauffeurs are handpicked ensuring the best possible etiquette, and arrive in a smart-looking car, wearing a suit, and help with doors and baggage. The consistently high standards have made Wheely the UK App Store’s highest-rated ride-hailing app with 4.9 stars.