Ourika Garden Mountain Villa

By Stephen Addison
This item appears on page 31 of the June 2019 issue.
One of the gardens at the Ourika Garden Mountain Villa — Morocco. Photo by Stephen Addison

Morocco’s scenic Ourika Valley — by the High Atlas Mountains — is popular for city-getaway trips from Marrakesh, 50 kilometers away, an hour’s drive. There are a number of lodgings and restaurants scattered throughout the area, but finding high-quality lodgings and dining is challenging.

One of the finest restaurants in the region is at Ourika Garden Mountain Villa (Ourika Valley, Aghbalou, Morocco; phone +212 [0] 6 70 72 17 06, www.ourikagarden.com), a hotel overlooking a river in the cool highlands. Its restaurant is a popular lunch stop for visitors to the valley.

My wife, Paula Owens, and I stopped there for lunch in May 2018. Our private tour guide, Abdellah El Harras (phone +212 666 946 043, elharrasabdellah@yahoo.fr), was clearly a good friend of the welcoming Karim, the villa’s manager.

Our Berber omelets with side vegetables and tea were outstanding. Service was excellent, and the outdoor setting was beautiful. Our food was also fresh; our server picked a lemon from the tree next to our table to accompany our meal.

I’m not sure what the actual price of our meal was, since our guide (Dec. ’18, pg. 36) paid for it out of his own funds. (We tipped him accordingly.)

The grounds were clean and carefully maintained and included a set of beautiful terraced gardens. There was also a pool.

The lodgings could accommodate 14 guests. The villa’s website does not list prices, but TripAdvisor and Airbnb both list this property; on Airbnb, room prices were less than $100 per night. (The villa is not a private residence, even though it’s listed on Airbnb. It’s possible that the proprietor lives there — a practice we found to be common at our Moroccan lodgings.)

If you plan on traveling to the Ourika Valley, this gem is worth a visit… if only for tea and to tour the gardens.

Charlotte, NC