since 2009

Azalai Lodge, Zagora

Smartest boutique hotel in Morocco’s south ? Likely.

Until a few years ago, Zagora was devoid of any pretense to a luxurious hotel. A town built in the 1920’s by the French on the edge of the immense palm grove bordering the river Draa, Zagora is mostly a stop on the way to the majestic dunes of Erg Chigaga. Khouloud and Bouchaib saw the opportunity and decided to create something for the more demanding voyageur and that is how Azalai Desert Lodge came into being. Khouloud had a degree in hospitality and Bouchaib is an accomplished architect. They both shared a passion for Out of Africa and pioneering aviators. Between taking on an existing structure or building something entirely new, they opted for the latter. The grey-  and beige hand cut stone frontage contrasts with the turquoise of the generous pool. Rooms are tastefully decorated and bear the names of famous explorers, intrepid aviators, painters or writers, all of which have a connection with Morocco: Paul Bowles, Saint- Exupery, Henri Matisse. The gardens are vast and you could spend hours laying in a hammock or take a leisurely bicycle ride through the palm grove. The lounge and dining room maintain an air of colonial elegance. On your plate, you will savor the refinement of Moroccan cuisine with perhaps a French dessert. If there is a place where you will spoil yourself and wash away the desert sand, this is it. Speaking of the desert, you should stay at their desert camp. It’s 1001- nights stuff. Best visited from September to June. No WiFi or TV. Alcohol is not available on site but you are free to bring your own.