There is more to Morocco than Moorish palaces, souks and the Sahara Desert. Journey out of the frenetic Marrakech and you will quickly find yourself heading towards the stunning Atlas Mountains where there is a plethora of things to do for those of an outdoorsy nature. The best High Atlas hotels cater to all tastes from budget guesthouses to super luxury Kasbahs, where nothing is impossible.
The Atlas Mountain range stretches from the Atlantic in the West to Morocco’s border with Algeria in the East. It acts as a buffer for the more extreme Saharan weather, so what you find in Morocco is something more akin to the climate of its near neighbours across the Mediterranean. Temperature variations can be fairly dramatic across the range, with snows falling regularly in the upper reaches of the mountains.
Encompassed by the range is the Toubkal National Park, where climbers flock to conquer the peak of Jbel Toubkal, the highest in the range at 4167m. For those who aren’t quite up to that there is plenty more on offer in this outdoor playground from white water rafting to horse trekking, photography and hot air balloon adventures to name but a few.
Trekking however is the main reason to visit the High Atlas with year round routes available, though higher passes are only accessible during the summer months. All abilities can be catered for whether you simply wish to go for a day hike or at the other end of the scale longer expeditions through challenging countryside and terrain.
We believe our High Atlas hotels are the best in the area. They certainly cater for all tastes and budgets, and most offer an authentic taste of life in the High Atlas whether it be in a converted Berber castle or a simple hillside farmhouse.
The Kasbah du Toubkal prides itself on its green credentials having won amongst other things a green globe award for sustainable tourism. It enjoys a prime location at the foot of Mount Toubkal and is understandably incredibly popular with trekkers and hikers.
It has always been a joint European/ Berber venture and as such there is nowhere better to get a real feel for life in this region. If you’d like a high atlas hotel that’s about more than just trekking, it has awe inspiring views and a wonderful hammam.
The Kasbah Bab Ourika also prides itself on its eco friendliness. Food is home-grown as far as possible and the construction is one of Morocco’s most environmental; it’s made from rammed earth – the traditional Berber building technique - and blends beautifully into the surrounding countryside.
Rose filled courtyards and a gorgeous terrace with swimming pool ensure that those who don’t want to expend their energy trekking can simply kick back with a book and enjoy one of the best High Atlas hotels.
Atlas Mountains, High Atlas
An eco-friendly resort perched on the side of the Atlas Mountains. The rooms range from economy dorms to luxurious havens. Moroccan chic decor with exposed wood beams, whitewash walls and bright fabrics. Indescribable views. The delicious food and lovely hosts seal the deal.
Ourika, High Atlas
A stunning escape in the foothills of the Atlas mountains less than an hour from Marrakech. With staggering mountain views - this is the perfect place for enthusiastic trekkers as well as those who want to relax.
If you’re looking to explore this extraordinary region, but things are a bit tight, don’t despair. There are High Atlas hotels which are not expensive, but at the same time have not scrimped on the essentials: charm, service and quality.
Our pick of the no frills High Atlas hotels would have to be Dar Adrar. Perched high up in a little Berber village, Dar Adrar is a simple guest house offering five en suite rooms, plus three others.
It is certainly off the beaten track, luggage is carried by mule for the last part of the journey, and has character in abundance. The hot water may not be quite “on tap”, but the delicious dinners certainly make up for it.
There is a terrace where you can relax and soak up the views. Helpful owner Mohammed is a qualified Atlas mountain guide and will happily arrange tours of the area. For value for money, there is no better option!
Aroumd, High Atlas
A simple and charmingly rustic guesthouse perched in the High Atlas mountains above Imlil.
With no shortage of luxury offerings in Morocco it is no surprise that some the best High Atlas hotels are at this end of the scale.
Kasbah Tamadot is the height of opulence and decadence in the High Atlas. Owned by Richard Branson it offers everything you would expect: sumptuous interiors, top notch food, spa, hammam and glorious gardens with stunning views.
Also no surprise would be the adventurous activities on offer: trekking with a mule and guide or a spot of hot air ballooning if you feel like emulating your host!
Asni, High Atlas
Richard Branson's exclusive Moroccan hideaway. The ultimate luxury break - 5-star spa, undulating rose gardens, celestial valley views from its hilltop perch, gourmet feasts. Want for nothing in this Atlas heaven.
If you don't like the idea of high altitude, then here's our pick of the best High Atlas hotels in the foothills.
Domaine de la Roseraie is a haven for nature lovers. Snuggled in the foothills of the High Atlas, it has been run by the same family since it first opened in the 1970s. Set amid sixty acres of beautiful parkland, the property offers forty four bedrooms spread amongst unpretentious bungalows dotted around the exotic gardens.
There is plenty to do on site, without having to explore further afield; walk the paths of the grounds, relax by the pool amid the scented gardens, spot the numerous bird species, and simply lose yourself in the views of the Toubkal range. Food is delicious and much of the produce is grown on the Domaine itself to ensure optimum freshness.
Kasbah Angour is a converted Berber castle. It offers twenty five rooms and suites all of which have been carefully adorned with hand crafted traditional furnishings.
Its location is stunning; set on a hill top in the High Atlas foothills and for those who like to work for their luxury trappings, excursions and treks can be organised. For those who can’t be bothered, they can amble round the beautiful gardens or bag a lounger by the pool with a good book!
Ouirgane, High Atlas
Traditional hotel in the foothills of the Atlas mountains. Large, unpretentious bedrooms with traditional Moroccan features set scattered through exotic gardens. Lovely swimming pool and seasonal cooking. A spa and hammam to completely unwind in. Ideal for nature lovers.
Gorgeous Berber castle in foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Superb panoramic views, suites with traditional Moroccan materials and locally made furniture. Beautiful gardens, a large swimming pool and wonderful local excursions. A relaxing spot to recoup in after a day of activity.