I’ve never stumbled, lost and dry-mouthed, through the desert in desperate need of an oasis, but if I did I’d hope to come across one that looks like the Fellah Hotel.
Nestled halfway between the bustle of Marrakech and serene Atlas Mountains the Fellah Hotel is a haven of shiny new villas hidden behind inconspicuous orange walls. The complex looks and feels like a self-sufficient village; the restaurant, pool, spa and guest rooms spread out amongst cactus-strewn gardens and the hotel’s vegetable patch.
My room was palatial, with an extravagant lampshade the same size as the bed, 2 closets and an egg-shaped bath that overlooked the grounds. The rooms have been decorated minimally, there was lots of shelving with nothing on it, but a few hand-selected items from Morocco’s flea markets mixed with modern pieces commissioned from local craftsmen gives the space an interesting edge.
The restaurant is a sigh-inducing setting to enjoy breakfast. Birds perch on the antique candelabras swinging from the ceiling and the glass doors peel back so that the worn wooden tables seem to end in the azure pool. There are not a vast number of options on the breakfast buffet but the small selection is tasty and authentic; I loved the Berber style porridge and pancakes to start the day.
The Fellah is not just a hotel though; the complex is also home to the region’s only UNESCO-Aschberg-recognised arts and cultural centre. The Dar al-Ma’mûn, as the centre is known, is a talent incubator, sponsoring and providing a home to artists from the Africa and Middle East region, as well as providing literacy and cultural events for the local population. As guests of the hotel we were able to mingle among and learn from the artists in residence, as well as know that our stay is contributing to a centre that is currently teaching 13 local women to write and introducing 30 children to their first books.
The cultural centre is a beautiful space in itself. Holding multi-lingual tomes on social sciences, literature, poetry and art history, it is also a space where guests can come to relax, switch off, maybe even listen to a poetry reading. The directors of the Ma’mun are on hand during the guest’s stay to assist with any cultural activities they would like to partake in – from visiting local artist’s workshops to cooking with the chef – but nothing is forced upon you. The people behind this project are clearly knowledgeable and admirably passionate about what they do; I learnt a lot from them about the Moroccan arts scene, of which they are influential players. However, if you would like to spend your afternoon just reclining by the pool, enjoying a hammam or working out in the gym, you are more than welcome to do so.
You could also recline in the Spa, which I was surprised to find is Thai. The timid Thai massage therapists were trained at Bangkok’s Wat Po temple – considered the home of Thai Arts and Learning – and have moved to Morocco to run the regions only Wat Po Massage Centre. They miss certain things about their home, especially the Thai cuisine, so they grow their own herbs and spices in the garden and these can be served up in Thai dishes at the request of the guests.
The hotel is very new. When I visited they had just completed their soft opening and there were a few issues with regards to service (it could be slow and inconsistent) that they are in the process of ironing out. That being said, this hotel has a truly unique offering, like nothing I have come across on my travels before. It’s an education to stay there, a place to broaden the mind, engage with Moroccan art and culture – and what a stunning setting to do it in.
Rooms at the Fellah Hotel start from €170 per room, per night on a bed & breakfast basis.
EasyJet, RyanAir and British Airways all offer daily direct flights from London airports and reach Marrakech in approximately 3 hours.
My stay at the Fellah Hotel was sponsored for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions remain my own. For more information on my first impressions of Marrakech check out this post. I’m already planning to go back next year!