Having wound your way up the road to the village of Imlil, past orchards, precipitous terraced fields and a fast-flowing river, you know that you’re in climbing country, a view reinforced by gaggles of rosy-cheeked, puffy-jacketed Berber guides waiting for their day’s business.
Then, having been dropped off in the village, you are immediately a trekker, as the only way to reach the Kasbah is a gentle 10-minute hike, snaking up through groves of walnut trees, while stoical mules lead the way carrying your luggage. Just as your breath becomes a little less regular, you reach the stone-built kasbah. It’s not far above the village, but it has the setting of a citadel, rather like the way the ‘Martini Café’ perches above St Moritz. Situated like a stork’s nest on the top of a craggy outcrop, the kasbah is undoubtedly a place that sets its and your sights on getting out into the mountains for a good day’s trekking, or at least convincing you that you could if you felt the urge.
The setting is breathtaking, with 180-degree views up to the snowcapped peaks and Toubkal itself. The lower slopes are covered in orchards and dotted with villages of castellated ochre buildings clinging to the hillsides, the air fresh as fresh can be save for that comforting smell of woodsmoke. How much energy you expend is up to you, but the mountains are there and waiting.
You are greeted on arrival by friendly staff with mint tea, dates and goats’ milk before being ushered into the lofty but slightly smoky main sitting room. The four reception rooms offer views in all directions, giving the potential to stay in the sun all day, while the rooms are clustered around a garden, all at different levels. The ‘Garden villa’ is the premier room, suitable for a private group of 5-8 people with its own huge sitting room with woodburner, deep sofas, Moroccan rugs and a full-width window facing Toubkal. The standard, superior and deluxe rooms are very well appointed with walnut wood carved furniture, en suite bathrooms, CD players and coffe and tea making facilities. All the rooms are extremely stylish with stunning mountain views, so really only the size is the defining factor.