Berber Lodge, Marrakech, Morocco

Berber Lodge, Marrakech, Morocco

Battered, weathered and beautiful, Berber Lodge epitomises low-key luxe away from Marrakech’s well-trodden streets.

venturing south, in the opposite direction to those
leaving Marrakech Menara Airport towards the city’s frenetic
nebulous. A 20-minute drive later, we reach the village of Oumnass
in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.

Veering off the main road at a small wooden arrow reading
“Berber Lodge”, we follow a dirt track for a few minutes before
reaching the low-lying, earthen-hued hotel that will be our lodging
for the weekend. At first glance, Berber Lodge cuts a rustic, raw
and sculptural shape.

Its barren exterior is juxtaposed with a busier inner space. A
wrought-iron, mustard-hued star greets guests as they enter; a
path, fringed with wild grasses and vegetation draws them deeper
inside. Reception is a throughway between the extended corridor and
the dining room – a quartet of chairs, a fringed fuschia carpet and
a wicker bust mounted above a solitary, flickering candle hint at
the design-led space’s aesthetic, vibe and overall disposition.

Berber Lodge takes things back to basics (albeit with the
welcome addition of electricity) – its owner Romain Michel-Ménière,
a French-Swiss interior designer who has lived in Morocco since
2002, has incorporated the rough and the smooth. Open-plan rooms
spill one into the next, suggesting the ethos of “openness” that
imbues the place. It’s a space to chill, recharge, disconnect… all
buzzwords, yes, but Berber Lodge really does facilitate these
things. Battered, weathered and beautiful – and away from the fray
– this place epitomises low-key luxe.


Oases of calmness and comfort, all 10 rooms (cottages, really)
are dotted beyond the hotel’s central space, creating a series of
private residences around the main property. Room six is the
closest to base, while Ourika (the family room) offers the most
space, sleeping three across two bedrooms. Inside most rooms, walls
are puttied, mosquito nets are wrapped around bed frames in
spider-like formations and wooden planks camouflage mod cons.
Petite windows below your eyeline are covered by engraved wooden
shutters, complete with star-shaped, battered-metal handles. Woven
bed frames are veiled with organic cotton bedding – best enjoyed
once tucked in with the crackling sound of the olive-bark fire (set
by staff while you’re at dinner) lulling you to sleep. Those not
quite ready to drift off just yet can take up hearthside seats and
dig their toes into thick, chevron-patterned cream-and-black Beni
Ourain rugs while recapping on the day’s happenings. Bathrooms
teeter towards the basic, consisting of a dinky marble sink, a
towel rail fashioned from whittled wood and a generously sized bath
(there’s no shower curtain and most rooms are open plan – though,
thankfully, the toilet has a door).

What’s for breakfast?

A very happy checkered tablecloth, billowing to the floor,
greets you as you enter the breakfast room (open between 8am and
10.30-ish). There’s no menu, so morning decisions are limited to
coffee or tea. (Just FYI: if you choose tea and don’t specify you
will be served mint tea, not breakfast tea). Your first round of
breakfast foods consists of a fruit, plain natural yoghurt, bread
and perfectly squeezed orange juice, followed by crêpes paired with
a selection of conserves. If you’ve still got a little room to
fill, add an order of eggs to your breakfast – scrambled are

How about lunch and dinner?

While at breakfast, you’ll be asked by your waiter to confirm
whether you will be having lunch at the lodge. For dinner, your
presence is assumed – it’s a little like your mother’s approach to
hospitality (though of course there is always the option to RSVP
“no” to an evening meal here). The menu is preset and changes
daily, showcasing a selection of dishes that are specific to the
region of Tameslouht – on any given night the three courses served
here might include a medley of a lick-the-bowl-clean pea soup, a
light chicken tagine served with seasonal vegetables and a lemon
tart, all presented on moss-green crockery, placed onto woven
placemats and eaten with weighty, vintage silverware. On occasion,
dinner will be served in the lounge, rather than the main dining

Is there a bar?

A très boho-chic bar – flanked with woven lampshades (made in
Tunisia) and quartered off with a couple of leather-capped high
stools – beckons guest into the main building, pre-dinner. While
it’s a compelling place for an evening tipple, the dinky corner
requires the house to adopt a pouring policy that is quite relaxed
– read: the bar is where you are. Our preferred drinking spots:
sinking back into the fireside, pillow-crowded sofas and book in
hand on the terrace under bougainvillea. Ease and freeness is
paramount here.


An unheated swimming pool; pack your bathing suit. WiFi is only
available in the reception area – a needs-must novelty we’re
willing to get on board with.

Things you should know

Car service from the airport can be arranged by the hotel for
300 dirham or €28 (both currencies are accepted). A jeep (useful
for the off-the-beaten track portion of your journey) will take you
from point A (the arrivals gate where your driver will be waiting
with a sign) to point B (Berber Lodge).

Within a short walk you’ll find…

Rubble. Prickly pears. Sheep. Not much else. A car is required
to venture beyond the acres of land which Berber Lodge occupies.
For a change of scene, Beldi Country Club is a 20-minute
drive away and serves as a great stopping-off point en route to the
city’s centre.