Press cuttings and more…
Chrissy’s Collection: Kasbah du Toubkal, Imlil, Morocco
Chrissy Nason, travel writer and hotel specialist at Silver Travel Advisor, visits the Kasbah.Visit the Silver Travel Advisor website
The Magic of Morocco
Kasbah du Toubkal is featured in the Destination I Do magazine, the travel publication for engaged couples and romance travellers.
If you are looking for a wonderful place to propose to your loved one, or somewhere isolated and intimate where you could have your honeymoon, why not try Kasbah du Toubkal?Download a PDF version of this article
Visit the Destination I Do website
Morocco Ultimate North African Adventures Robb Report August 2013
“The journey to Toubkal includes one of the most remarkable experiences in Africa - a close up look at the tiny hamlet of Imlil, the Aspen of the High Atlas. There is a fairy-tale feel to Imlil…what I do not see is Imlil’s landmark Kasbah du Toubkal…there, like some magical castle perched a mile overhead, is the one time fortress and summer home of the local Pasha. Twenty minutes later, I am reminded why the Kasbah du Toubkal and the surrounding landscape served as the backdrop for the movie Kundun. However rugged the climb to reach it, my suite at the Kasbah du Toubkal is—literally and figuratively—breathtaking.Download a PDF version of the story
A sublime mountain hideaway High in Morocco.
“Dreams are only the plans of the reasonable”, reads the placard by the entrance to Kasbah du Toubkal, a dreamy alpine retreat in the High Atlas Mountains about an hour’s drive from Marrakech. It’s a slogan that prepares guests for the magical, out-of-time, out-of-place experience that unfolds inside its stone walls and atop its carpet-strewn terraces.Read the full artilce on the Forbes’ website
2012 Fodor’s Choice
Fodor’s, the leading name in travel guides for over 75 years announced that Kasbah du Toubkal has been recognized as a 2012 Fodor’s Choice selection. This distinction designates Kasbah du Toubkal as a leader in its field for service, quality, and value in the 2012 year.
The editors and experts of Fodor’s have been selecting only the top fifteen percent of their listed properties and activities as Fodor’s Choice award recipients since 1988. Every year, Fodor’s writers experience, examine and evaluate thousands of hotels, restaurants and attractions in their travels across the globe. While every business included in a Fodor’s guide is deemed worth a traveller’s time, only those offering a truly remarkable experience are given the Fodor’s Choice designation.
For more than 75 years Fodor’s has presented travelers with the very top recommendations from hidden-away restaurants to can’t-miss museums, to make sure they’re making the most of their travels. The 2012 Fodor’s Choice recipients are the best of the best, providing a remarkable experience in their price range or category.See our entry on the Fodor’s website
The Times Top 20 mountain hotels
The Top 20 mountain hotels. From Tanzania to Tiber, sleep close to the stars in the world’s highest hotels (above 1000m).
Head 90 minutes south from Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains and Jbel Toubkal, North Africa's highest peak. Here at 1800m above sea level you'ill find Kasbah du Toubkal, the country's premier mountain retreat. It's a luxury eco-lodge with a twist: it was built and part run by villagers. Take to the surrounding mountains to visit Berber villages and sample local hospitality.
James Ellis, The Times, 20th August, 2011
Daily Mail Online
Top of the world: The day Mohammed(s) took us to North Africa’s highest mountain
Melanie Mulhern, Daily Mail Online, 9th June, 2011
The Sunday Times Travel
One of the first ‘country’ properties to spring up close to Marrakech, this converted Kasbah—once the home of a feudal chieftain—remains a perennial favourite…
Views from the rooftops and terraces are film-set spectacular, so it’s hardly surprising Martin Scorsese used it…and on your doorstep are endless walking trails through the surrounding mountains…
Kasbah du Toubkal invities comparisons with Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot, which you pass on the way. It’s not quite as luxurious as Sir Richard’s property, but it has far superior views and at half the price, it easily has the edge in authentic character.
Sana Butler, The Sunday Times Travel magazine, August 2010
The Sunday Times Travel
The Kasbah is featured in The Sunday Times Travel magazine, December 2009
Download a PDF version of the article by clicking on the button below:
Condé Nast Traveller
FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, it is now possible to walk the mountains in luxury…
Behind me was London, life, a busy week: ahead a moment of escape…
…the Kasbah, has over the past few years have turned it into one of the world’s great mountain retreats…Kasbah du Toubkal is successful for many reasons, one of the most important of which is the owners’ decision not to do anything without the approval of the people of Imlil…as a result the Kasbah still feels part of the community…. The cloud burned off, revealing a sight of such beauty that I had to sit and stare at it for some time, to be sure I’d remember it… This was what I had come for: a taste…The real wonder of the lodge lies in the contrasts and combination that have made it possible…the knowledge that you have walked here…that you are just 5 hours away from London and yet along way from home: in remote Morocco, high up a mountain, soaking tired legs in a big, hot bath; close to the stars and yet tucked up in bed.
Anthony Sattin, Condé Nast Traveller, December, 2007
Only a day earlier I’d been in the hurly-burly of Marrakesh, gazing longingly at the peaks of the Atlas Mountains so clearly visible from the city’s rooftops. By teatime I’d escaped, and within two hours was at a quiet trekking lodge owned by the Kasbah. It felt as if I’d stepped back a century…
Set in the hillside village of Aït Aïssa in the Azzaden Valley, the trekking lodge looked similar to other village houses; however, inside there was solar-powered underfloor heating and huge bathtubs for soothing weary trekkers’ limbs…
I was greeted with mint tea on arrival. “Berber whiskey,” grinned the cook as he served us on the little terrace, which had stupendous views across the valley to the snow-capped Toubkal Massif. It was sunset, and the deep pinks of the hills turned to dark purple as the moon rose; a few lights flickered on—electricity has only recently come to the valley…
In the morning I woke early and was drawn back to the terrace like a magnet. As the suns rays reached it, the village slowly come to life. A young girl, all in red, pulled a reluctant black cow by a rope, her younger sister attempting to encourage it from behind with a stick nearly as big as herself while also leading a large and very round sheep. A small white donkey made its way up and down a steep track, transporting rocks…
The backdrop was an abstract of bright sunshine and dark shadows, with the occasional flash of a woman’s vibrant outfit. The soundtrack was one of crowing cocks, braying donkeys and the rhythmic thud of corn being pounded…
Rounding the hillside I caught my first glimpse of the Kasbah du Toubkal, perched on an outcrop of rock. Despite seeing many photographs, it still took my breath away. Guests were sitting on the terraces—and I couldn’t wait to join them. The terrain doesn’t allow for a grand front entrance. Rather, you approach by mule or foot, open a huge wooden door and then walk through the gardens to the main building. Inside, I was greeted in the traditional Berber way: with rosewater, for washing my hands, and with a date, to dip into a bowl of milk…
…today there is accommodation for all budgets, right up to a superb three-bedroomed house with floor to ceiling plate-glass windows. Traditional furnishings including walnut wood doors and furniture, are used, and all but the ‘Berber Salons’ have superb views…
Lyn Hughes, Wanderlust, August/September 2010
New York Times
THE KASBAH DU TOUBKAL, a mountain retreat in the High Atlas outside Marrakech…Filled with wild flowers, it opens onto splendid vista – reddish-brown mountains dotted with green walnut groves and boxy mud-brick villages, farmers tending sheep on distant hills and Mount Toubkal rising snow-capped and gray-blue in the distance… The Kasbah calls itself a ‘Berber hospitality center’ not a hotel. In the brochure, I found this rhetoric self-important; once there, I realized it was entirely accurate. Drinking syrupy mint tea on the terrace, I was a guest…I’m no sucker for eco-tourism boilerplate but I was impressed by the Kasbah’s approach.
For two days, I sat in a canvas chair on that terrace, reading. The sounds of New York slowly dissipated until all I could hear was the ‘Allahu Akbar’ of muezzins echoing across valleys, the occasional crowing of a rooster, the barely perceptible rustle of a faraway waterfall…I looked up at the remote lodge, a lovely pink stone house atop the town’s highest hill. It was worth the final push. Our bathroom had a marble tub and plenty of hot running water…After the calm of the Atlas, Marrakech was a blur…We felt as if we’d traversed a thousand years of human development in one long day.
HOW MANY MOUNTAIN REFUGES in the Alps offer rose water to sprinkle on your hands and face after a hard day’s hike? If that and other traditional Berber touches sound tempting, then look no further…than the Kasbah du Toubkal’s recently opened three-bedroom lodge.
Tala Skari, TIME, April 18, 2007
THE KASBAH DU TOUBKAL, a stunning mountain retreat owned by a British company and run by local Berbers, that dominates the village, physically and economically.
Like most visitors, I came specifically to stay at the Kasbah. Once checked in at the office in the village, I waited for a porter with his mule to come and collect my luggage, and then set off on foot. The steep, 15-minute walk through apple orchards and groves of walnut trees was arduous enough to make it feel like the last stages of a pilgrimage—even though I had come most of the way from Marrakesh in a Mercedes taxi.
The Kasbah has a range of rooms to suit different budgets—from luxury villas to basic dormitories—and activities to suit all temperaments and abilities. You can loll around on over 300 square metres of roof terraces, drinking tea, playing chess, gazing at spellbinding panoramas of the mountains above and the working village below and just listening to the sounds of the valley. Or you can take a Berber-guided trek for as little as an afternoon or as long as a couple of days, and glimpse an insight in to the day-to-day lives of the Ait Mizane community that inhabits the valleys…
…by working in partnership with the villagers, Mike McHugo believed he could develop an innovative and sustainable destination to generate long-term benefits for the community, as well as a profit for his company.
So, how is it unique? First of all, the kasbah is managed by the local Berber community, rather than by professional hoteliers…
…In the meantime, this down-to-earth retreat in the extraordinary setting of the High Atlas mountains continues to set a benchmark for other tourism initiatives in remote areas.
Francesca Silvani, Financial Times, June 22, 2007
Hotels in High Places:
Kasbah du Toubkal Morocco, Sentry Mountain Lodge Canada, Explora Salto Chico Chile, Tempter House America.
THE BEST WAY TO FEEL ON TOP OF THE WORLD is actually to stay there. Mountain-top resorts may be tough to reach, but the views alone make them well worth the trek. In Morocco, the road less travelled to Kasbah du Toubkal, at the foot of North Africa’s highest peak, begins with a donkey ride…
Sana Butler, Newsweek International, February 19th, 2007
A HILLTOP PALACE in Morocco is a model of ecotourism…
Richard Hammond, The Guardian, 1st April 2006
Condé Nast Traveller
I’M WONDERING WHY I’ve been wasting my time elsewhere in Morocco when I could have been up here…a mountain retreat with the best rooftop views in North Africa. Morocco isn’t short of lovely hotels…but none boasts a setting to match the Kasbah…this is the country»s first and foremost mountain retreat.
Condé Nast Traveller, April 2002
The Kasbah features in the Eco hotels magazine in English and Arabic
Kasbah du Toubkal features in Shermans Travel Top 10 Castle Hotels:
Rocking the “Eco” Kasbah du Toubkal in Morocco
Berber Rising, Morocco’s mountain people look to partnerships and progress as well as tourist dollars, an article by Daniel Allen, Esquire Middle East
Marina Thomas is ‘entranced by the High Atlas Mountains’ in this article from The Docklands
The Kasbah is featured in the Hoosta Magazine (Style Travel for the Modern Urban Nomads), April 2010
Paul and Sally Farmer from London writes…
‘We would like to spend a week in Morocco in March, probably flying into Marrakesh. We stayed in the city last time so we would like to base ourselves in the Atlas Mountains, somewhere a bit special but not too expensive. Ideally, we would like somewhere that does guided walks, but we do not want to join an organised tour. Do you have a suggestion?’
Gill Charlton replies…
The Kashbah du Toubkal, at the foot of the highest mountain in north Africa, has a good reputation. The former home of a feudal ruler, it has been turned into a comfortable 14-room hotel in a joint European-Berber partnership. For keen walkers there are guided ascents of Mount Toubkal (13,665ft) and overnight treks to a satellite lodge. There are also easy strolls to local villages through blossom-rich orchards and a day trek with camels. A double room at the Kasbah costs from £110 per person per night full board.
Visitors can also spend a day in the mountains with lunch at the Kashbah for £80.
Ask Gill, Daily Telegraph Travel Supplement, November 13 2009
…OUR FIRST BEING the Kasbah du Toubkal, a 1,800m high eyrie and a 90 minute curling drive around the mountains from Marrakesh.
Beyond Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot, it offers a far superior view, surrounded by a horseshoe of rugged mountains where houses that look like they’re straight out of the Bible cling to stony slopes, a gush of water escaping from the snow-capped peaks down to the huge open valley below.
Run in partnership with the local Berber community, the kasbah is also more authentic.
Jane Knight, The Times, June 2009
FILM DIRECTOR MARTIN SCORSESE used this gorgeous converted Kasbah as a Tibetan monastery in his 1997 film, Kundun, you’ll know why when you see the film-set fabulous views. Sixty-four kilometres south of Marrakech, Kasbah du Toubkal looms large over the surrounding villages from its hilltop perch, encircled by a crown of High Atlas summits, including the loftiest mountain in North Africa, Mount Toubkal.
It’s not the grandest Kasbah hotel in these parts—Branson’s decadent Kasbah Tamadot takes that title—but for exactly half the £ 280 per night it will cost you to stay at chez Richard, Kasbah du Toubkal gets everything understatedly right. It’s lavish but not fussy, relaxed but mindful of who is paying the bill, friendly but not over familiar. And what a place to simply hang out. There are endless trails up into the surrounding hills, and guides can be hired from the hotel for the long (though manageable) walk up Mount Toubkal. But with food this good, an inviting hammam and mint tea on the sunny rooftop, you’ll be lucky if you ever get your walking boots on.
The Sunday Times Travel, March 2009
Twenty minutes’ drive past Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot, 60km outside of Marrakech at the foot of Jbel Toubkal, sits the Kasbah du Toubkal. This hilltop palace is barely an hour south of Marrakech and has superb views of North Africa’s highest mountain.
The once-ruined palace has been converted into something that is termed a “Berber Hospitality Centre”. It serves as both a luxury mountain retreat and a budget options for adventurous travellers, and is a model for sustainable tourism, creating jobs in remote communities and providing a first-rate experience for guests. And it was also one of the main off-studio sets for Scorcese’s Kundun, with the surrounding countryside standing in for Tibet.
Mark C O’Flaherty, The Independent, January 2009
DO THE RIGHT THING
I didn’t have to jettison my preconceptions altogether however. At Kasbah du Toubkal, the restored former home of a feudal chieftain in the High Atlas, a five percent surcharge on my bill went to fund community projects for local Berber villages. Proceeds thus far have paid for two ambulances and a hammam for ritual bathing. A new school for girls is in the works. At this spectacularly situated hotel, where I watched a waterfall from my balcony, management limits waste by asking guests to drink its spring water, shun bottled water, and carry out their own empties. For fun I hiked with a guide to a Berber village where new homes are going up, thanks to a brisk, tourism-driven local economy. By appealing to a Western sense of what is socially responsible, this place attracts conscientious types such as Aaron and Paige Perrine of Seattle, who designed their honeymoon around it…“It gets to be very tiring to have to think about every decision” says Aaron “It’s nice that everything you do (at Kasbah du Toubkal) can be beneficial to the place and the people. It allows your Western conscience to relax”.
Condé Nast Traveler September 2007
BEYOND THE RATIONAL how does one encourage tourism to behave more responsibly?” …HRH The Prince of Wales makes an appeal to all our senses.
…three aspects in particular stand out for me: environmental balance, appropriate architecture and design, and ensuring that business leadership and management is guided by principles of sustainable development.
…the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), which I launched at Clarence House in November 2004. The ITP now aims, ambitiously,to encourage the entire travel and tourism sector to aspire to higher standards.
At present, astonishing as it may sound, there are no international guidelines for planning and building tourist developments. ITP is this year addressing this with the launch of ‘The Sustainable Hotel Siting, Design and Construction Guiding principles’…
The Guidelines will doubtless highlight some excellent examples of good practice such as the Kasbah du Toubkal in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. Here, the travel company, Discover Ltd, ensured that they used local expertise, materials and style to rebuild a ruined kasbah. So sympathetically was this done that visitors regularly believe it to be hundreds of years old.
The approach they followed has since been enforced by His Majesty The King of Morocco as a regional standard, ensuring other developments follow suit. The Hotel was also a winner of last year’s Responsible Tourism Award.
Condé Nast, October 2005
RICHARD HAMMOND finds a new Lodge blazing a trail in the Atlas Mountains:
The views from the lodge are stunning. Lined with fields of wheat the valley is surrounded by the snow-covered mountains of the Toubkal Massif. The stylish lodge is staffed by villagers and is an outpost of the Berber Hospitality Centre at the Kasbah du Toubkal. The Kasbah is a model of community-based tourism and won ‘Best for a Mountain Environment’ in the 2004 Responsible Tourism Awards.
Richard Hammond, The Times, 1st July 2006
WHERE THE KASBAH DU TOUBKAL DIFFERS from most other hotel developments that are funded from abroad is that the local community, the fiercely proud and independent Berbers, the original inhabitants of North Africa, have been central to the Kasbah’s development and ethos.
Valere Tjolle. Travel Mole
THE KASBAH DU TOUBKAL is run…with the help of the local Berber community, an innately eco-friendly crew. The authentic hammam here is as much a cultural experience as it is an indulgence, with a steam room and cold plunge pool perfect for relieving trek-sore muscles.”
Madhu Puri. Concierge.com
YOU COULD BE CHECKING IN for a late dinner and bed at a palace perched upon a crag that is the most sought-after address in the Atlas… The Kasbah du Toubkal is a noble home reborn with imagination and sheer graft…derelict buildings have been transformed with meticulous artisan credentials – into a Berber Hospitality centre that makes Hollywood stars and location scouts drool…
British Airways, High Life Magazine
THE VAST ROOFTOP TERRACE of the Kasbah du Toukal provides a spectacular setting. Feast your eyes on the panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains. Treat your tastebuds to the hotel’s Moroccan haute cuisine.
Richard Hammond, Green Traveller, January 19th, 2007
THE WALK from the Kasbah du Toubkal to the trekking lodge in Id Izza takes in the spectacular scenery of the High Atlas Mountains.
…don’t be fooled into thinking that trekking lodge is a byword for refuge hut. On the contrary, the house is wonderfully comfortable, with underfloor heating and a wood-burning stove for those cold mountain nights, and three cosy en-suite bedrooms…
some guests simply overnight at the lodge, others linger two or three days to explore the area…It has been a truly beautiful walk, with barely an encounter with other Europeans. From the mountain pass we have followed a steady downhill course away from the desolate heights to the fertile lower slopes, tended by women and children working the fields and men maintaining the elaborate irrigation channels that bring water to the villages…
this is a spectacular and as yet unspoilt, part of the world.
House and Gardens. February 2007
JBEL TOUBKAL LOOKED just right–the highest in the Atlas, indeed the highest in North Africa…From the top in bright sunshine, we surveyed a landscape of unspeakable grandeur, of mountains and desert, the great Sahara one way and the plains of Marrakech the other…Back at the Kasbah – oh the joy of a hammam and a comfortable bed.
Pamela Goodman, Sunday Telegraph, 29th October 2006
THE KASBAH, a rose-coloured fortress overlooking the village of Imlil and shadowed by the snowy peaks of the Atlas Mountains…renowned for having some of the best views in North Africa. The rooms are unabashedly luxurious…
The Observer, 14th May 2006
THE KASBAH DU TOUBKAL—a hilltop palace in the Atlas mountains—has been a model for sustainable tourism, creating jobs in remote communities and providing a first-rate experience for guests. …The Toubkal Lodge has been built…to provide a ‘sister’ place to stay. It gives guests who want to hike in the area the option to stay somewhere different.
Simon Calder, The Independent, 4th March 2006
THE KASBAH DU TOUBKAL…has successfully blended three things to make this an award-winning hotel. Everything is based around Berber hospitality; added to this are Western levels of comfort and a programme of tours and expeditions in the mountains around it.
Simon Miller, The Independent, 25th February 2006
ON TOP OF another world looking down on paradise…
You may not recognise the name Kasbah du Toubkal but there is a good chance you will have seen the pictures. The building perches like an eagle’s nest on a rocky outcrop below snow-topped mount Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa at 4165 metres.
Daily Express, August 27th 2005
THE KASBAH DU TOUBKAL is a remarkable place…you would go to the Kasbah du Toubkal just for the views. The rooftop panorama is breath-taking…you’ll feel like a guest, not a tourist—a claim often made but rarely borne out by experience.
Mark Hodson, The Sunday Times, 23rd January 2005
Best in mountain environment
Winner: Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco The Times, November 2004.
LIVE THE HIGH LIFE on holiday in one of these hotels with spectacular views. You’ll feel on top of the world.
Rhiannon Batten, The Independent, April 2004
IT IS WORTH flying out to Morocco for just one night in this remarkable hotel, a role model for how tourism can help, not hinder…
Barnaby Rogerson, Cadogan Guides Morocco
THE ICING on the cake is Kasbah du Toubkal, a castle in the Atlas Mountains, with rooftop views of North Africa’s highest peak, Jbel Toubkal. If there’s a better place to sip mint tea, they’re keeping it secret.
Jeremy Lazell, The Sunday Times, 30th November 2003
MORNING BRINGS a view so extravagantly handsome that you can only smile at the cheeky way it checks off those travel-writing clichés; waterfalls, walnut groves, huddled villages and, yes, snow-capped mountains. Given enough tastefully deployed resources any hotel can of course look the part—and this one also has extreme natural beauty on its side—but for me where the Kasbah comes up trumps, even beyond its food and unabashed luxury, is in the friendliness of its staff. The Kasbah is just the sort of place where I could handle a little collegiate bonding.
Sue Norris, Financial Times, 22nd November 2003
A STUNNING RESTORATION of an abandoned Kasbah is one of the most atmospheric places to stay in southern Morocco…The views from the various terraces are breathtaking with Jbel Toubkal rising up sheer behind.
Time Out Guide “Marrakech and the Best of Morocco”, July 2003
I WANT TO be here, a piece of heaven close to Marrakech but far from the modern world. The Kasbah du Toubkal is a dream in the mountains close to paradise.
Marie Claire, May 2003
FOR THOSE WHO really like to get away from it all, two hours from the hustle of Marrakech, some 5,900 feet up in the High Atlas Mountains, Kasbah du Toubkal is an unusual ecologically sensitive retreat staffed and run by local Beber population. From a distance, this great fortress, backed by snow-capped mountains looks like Shangri-La – no wonder Martin Scorsese used it as a Tibetan monastery for his 1997 film Kundun
Vogue Magazine, December 2002
HAVING SURVIVED the drive over the Tizi-n-Test, we needed a refuge. Fortunately, the Kasbah is an outstanding one, sitting on a rock outcrop 1,675 (5,500ft) up in the mountains and quite possibly Morocco’s finest retreat…This month, it was Highly Commended in the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow awards.
The Times, 23rd Nov 2002
…IMPOSSIBLY ROMANTIC remoteness of The Kasbah du Toubkal…take lunch at low, round tables on the sunny rooftop terrace for views that are out of this world.
Bliss for Brides, May 2002
SITTING ON the terrace having lunch overlooking stunning scenery will explain better than words why weary celebrities would choose this secret setting.
Hello Magazine, April 2002
THE JOURNEY should have taken an hour and a half but I stopped at every corner to admire the views. When we rounded the final bend in the road, I gasped with delight. At the head of the valley, The Kasbah du Toubkal perches on a roadless wooded hilltop directly beneath the majestic Jbel Toubkal – at 4165 metres the highest mountain in North Africa.
Home and Gardens, February 2002
…IT IS THE VIEW from the carpet-strewn rooftop south towards Mount Toubkal that makes this newly opened palace one of the best hotels in the country.
The Sunday Times, March 2001