Gite Atlas Mazik sits perched on a hill overlooking the trailhead village of Imlil - gateway to the High Atlas mountains and, in particular, Mount Toubkal: the highest peak in North Africa at around 4200m. The gite is a 3 storey traditional village house attached to the owners' living accommodation. It is reached via a narrow path weaving through the village streets and a leafy walnut grove. Bags are carried by hand or mule from the roadhead. We booked through booking.com and were pleased to receive an email from Houssein, our host, very shortly after. Houssein is incredibly accommodating and nothing is too much trouble for him. He will arrange as much or as little as you want from your trip to Imlil, from airport transfers to muleteers, laundry, refuge accommodation and mountain guiding. He is a guide himself and an excellent source of information regarding the area. He is also a very good cook and his tagines (especially the lamb) are not to be missed!
The gite has a large main sitting area and a roof top terrace with outstanding views of the village and surrounding valleys. The rest of the building is dedicated to the bedrooms. Sitting in the lounge, you cannot help but listen to the sounds of village life - domesticated animals, children playing, people calling to one another, water gushing etc - its an extremely relaxing and authentic experience. That said, tech-heads can get their internet fix via the free wi-fi provided (I was able to Facetime my family from the roof terrace!)
Now here's the thing, though! Its this authenticity that might not appeal to some travellers. While the accommodation is spacious and comfortable, it is maintained to Berber standards. Facilities are basic and cleanliness does not equate with Western standards and expectations - the Hotel Inspector would definitely not stay the night! Flies can be intrusive during the heat of the day and insects in general become companions! If the owners wanted to appeal to more Western guests then they could improve the bathrooms, mend the broken window, clean more often and more thoroughly but I wonder to what degree this might spoil what was for me a magical experience. Certainly, Houssein and his family might expect to charge more if they made these adaptations.
We stayed on a full board basis (recommended) and I remained perfectly healthy throughout which leads me to conclude that the gite was perhaps cleaner than it looked.
We were treated incredibly well while staying with Houssein and his family and made to feel utterly welcome.
For me, Gite Atlas mazik was everything I wanted from my trip to Imlil and more. However, satisfaction is a product of expectation and I think it is only fair, not least of all for Houssein and his family, that guests book in the knowledge of what awaits them in this magical location. I, for one, will definitely be returning.
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