Dar Ahlam - La Maison des Rêves is a spectacular 14-room hideaway on the edge of the Moroccan desert amidst palm groves and almond trees. A 4.5-hour drive from the airport, it is worth spending a couple of days here after visiting the hot, frenetic souks, sights and shops of Marrakech. The main house is set within a two-hundred-year-old Kasbah (originally a high-walled fortress); its earthy walls a sunset-pink hue, reflecting the colours of the surrounding desert and taking in spectacular views of the Atlas Mountains in the distance.
Maison des Rêves is the beautiful creation of visionary, Thierry Teyssier, an events-mastermind whose talent lies in ‘mise-en-scene’. It feels more like a private home than a hotel, with a behind-the-scenes team of over 100 people dedicated to providing an exceptional, personalised experience in the Moroccan desert. Within the Maison, guests are treated to modern comforts and a stylish setting. Interiors are simple and serene, from the billowing white curtains to the wicker chairs, traditional pottery, hand-carved wooden furniture, earth-toned soft furnishings and cool tiled floors.
Days are spent lazing by the shaded swimming pool, indulging in Hammam treatments and candle-lit massages, or dining in gorgeous private settings such as the Louis Benech gardens (the designer behind Tuileries in Paris). Dining at Maison des Rêves takes guests on an unexpected journey. There is no official restaurant and no official menu, but with over 450 gourmet recipes specially curated by a team of chefs, each dish delights the taste buds with organic local ingredients and a myriad of flavours, including pomegranate vinegar, date caramel, goats cheese, crushed almond oil and herb grass honey. Surprise picnic lunches of fresh Moroccan salads and traditional skewered meats are laid out on Berber cushions and carpets in dramatic settings. In the evenings, dining tables are strategically placed to overlook stunning empty landscapes and provide guests with a canopy of stars overhead.
Personal adventures are created for each guest to enjoy unexpected experiences and in-depth discoveries of the region. Trek into the Valley of Roses, wander through a nearby palmerai, visit a 12th century Berber village or enjoy a traditional tea ceremony at dusk.
Along with Maison des Rêves, owner Thierry has two further pop-up camps to take guests on a journey through the desert. Saharan adventures await at The Dune’s Camp on the shores of an ancient salt-lake. Race down the sandscapes to thrill your inner-child. Luxury tents are beautifully decorated with African reed mats, Berber cushions and vintage décor. As the sun sets, hundreds of lanterns guide the way from your private tent to an exquisite dinner enjoyed around a traditional campfire.
The Summer Camp is set within the Valley of Roses surrounded by sun-streaked jagged hills on the edge of a winding river – a true desert oasis, dense with palms. Canvas tents are decorated with Moroccan textile-covered cushions, Berber kilims and inviting king-beds. Meet nomadic friends in their homes within nearby caves and explore the area on stunning nature walks. Guests are served by a dedicated butler as well as an attentive camp team.
Whilst Maison des Rêves is quite expensive in comparison with other desert hideaways, the experience is luxurious, unusual and memorable. It is well worth staying for a few nights between exploring one of Morocco’s historic cities and then spending a couple of days relaxing at the coast.
Every time I explore a new destination, whether it’s on an adventure holiday in Peru or a luxury beach escape in the Indian Ocean, I return home full of excitement to share the amazing sights I have seen. Through my own experiences I have developed a love of helping others experience the great wonders of the world; truly getting under the skin of the extraordinary destinations that are at your fingertips. Getting the details right, from which hotel is perfectly located for exploring away from the crowds, to which local guide is most knowledgeable on history or culture or art, is of paramount importance to me. I am constantly seeking out new and exciting experiences and exploring off the beaten track to ensure my clients are receiving the best and most honest first-hand advice.
Take a look at my travel diaries for food for thought on your next trip...