The selfish part of me wants to slate this place, simply to keep it a secret, but the truth is that we had the most perfect time at the Villa Dinari.
Before we even set off Heather e-mailed us, organising our collection from the airport, lunch and our Hammam treatments. (We went to La Maison Arabe as Les Bains des Marrakech were being weird about deposits/giving over your credit card details upfront, including security numbers - La Maison Arabe was wonderful though).
When we landed in Marrakech our driver was already there to collect us and we arrived at the villa well within half an hour. Heather was there to meet us and is absolutely fantastic. She gave us a tour and took us to our room, having upgraded us to the Dinari Suite. It is a lovely cottage at the top end of the garden, with a living area, kitchen and patio. It is beautifully and practically furnished, private and you could be totally self-sufficient there. (Ironically exactly one week previously we stayed in the Opium Suite at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons which is very similar in style and layout but 12 times the price) If there is anything you need, you could of course just ask, but I would suggest that you have a look around first because it is more than likely that Heather has already thought of it. There are pool towels, corkscrews, an i-pod dock, bug spray, candles (and spare ones), a lighter, board games etc etc. There is also complimentary tea, coffee and water. The bathroom has big bottles of shampoos etc for you to help yourself to - just like staying at a friend's. The suite is well-lit with lots of beautiful lamps and is air-conditioned/heated as you desire. (It does get cold here at night and the architecture is well designed to keep out the heat, so bring pj's).
We were also met with a tray full of assorted olives (grown in their own gardens), nuts, fresh fruit, water and a bottle of wine - all a complimentary welcome.
We snacked, settled in, had a quick wonder around and then were called for our lunch. My boyfriend had mentioned that I avoid eating wheat and Heather had organised special barley bread to be made for me! This is a fine example of how the Villa Dinari is run, with genuine thoughtfulness. There is a personal touch in the way that everyone treats you. It is a far-cry from those impersonal hotels that can often leave you feeling like a mere number/potential tipper. All the staff are kind and accommodating, Khaleed or Heather are always around to liaise with re any plans/needs you have. They booked our restaurants, drew us maps, changed bookings, and ordered our taxis (which always arrived within 15 mins and are paid for on account at the end of your holiday directly to the Villa). Heather also let us use her personal gym.
The food here is wonderful - Nizha prepared all our meals and she is a genius. We had tagines, salads, meatballs, bbq meats, kofte etc etc. You just need to mention that you wish to eat home and lunch or dinner (which is from a set menu) will be served at your time of choice. It is excellent, authentic Morroccan cuisine (approx £8 each for lunch £17 or dinner) and the portions are very generous. The wines (about £8 each) they have available on top are really well-chosen too.
Breakfast is served whenever you surface and in fact Nizha brought it to our suite in order to wake us up whenever the mornings were hot and sunny. It comprises yoghurt, fruit, fresh oj, tea/coffee, breads, jam and honey.
We did eat out (Tobsil - excellent food, surly waiter, beautiful surrounds and worth a trip, but a bit touristy) but decided to mostly eat home as the food served at the Villa was varied and flawless.
The gardens are beautiful - really well groomed but not sterile. There is real life here which includes lots of birdsong and 4 gorgeous dogs. The pool area is brilliant, perfect for relaxing and admiring your surrounds - which includes a view of the Atlas Mountains.
The main villa has so many spots, both inside and out, where you can hang out and relax. We had pre-dinner drinks in the main house each night and usually ate lunch outside and dinner on the formal dining room, but again, I think they are so chilled that you are free to choose.
The main house is beautifully designed and decorated, like a minimalist Morroccan style, if such a thing exists. It is true to Morroccan culture without being the tiniest bit chintzy. It is homely and spacious.
We saw all 4 of the guest rooms and they are all done up to a very high standard - I would be really happy to stay in any of them. Privacy was not an issue or us as we were the only guests but there seems to be tonnes of space for 8 guests to share.
With relation to security here, there are locks on the doors but we rarely used ours as we didn't feel the need. (There is a watchman and big dogs for goodness sake!)
I could go on forever about all the details but basically this is a fab place, run by enthusiastic and kind people (Heather, Abdul and their son Adam are super nice) who are easy-going and keen that you enjoy yourself. It is not a sprawling 5 star resort in the city (thank God) and it is not run with military precision, but with heart. It is 20 minutes out of town and the air is all the better for that. A great place to relax - we will be back soon.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Villa Dinari is a privately owned guest house just 12 km and 20 minutes from Marrakech. The Villa has eleven rooms and suites to let. Situated in one hectar of beautifully landscaped gardens, it has a heated swimming pool, gymnasium, treatments room and massage facilities and can provide half or full board. It has a real family atmosphere. It is the ideal location for dipping in to Marrakech or exploring the surrounding countryside. ... more less
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