Truth be told, I have stayed in some of the most romantic hotels, riads and bed and breakfasts in the world. I love luxury hotels with heated pools and decadent fine dining options, especially when they’re located in popular tourist spots. Rarely do I find a place so incredibly romantic that is affordable, so I was absolutely thrilled to find Hotel Chellal d’Ouzoud in a tiny Berber village a few hours away from Marrakech.
Initially, I intended to simply visit Ouzoud on a day trip, which is what most people do. Travel agents, tour companies and touts in the medina make their money on transportation to and from the chaotic, crazy city of Marrakech. Most tourists find themselves herded onto a mini-van with a bunch of strangers early in the morning, given a group tour around the magnificent Ouzoud Waterfalls, and after lunch, crammed back onto the mini-van for the two and a half hour tour back to the city in time for dinner.
It’s surprising to me how many tourists miss out on the real beauty of this charming, traditional Berber village by not staying at least one night.
There are several options for transportation and tours of Ouzoud.
I needed to heal and decided to spend some time meditating and writing in this small town, and ended up staying a week. It was one of the most peaceful, relaxing, serene vacations I’ve ever taken.
Before I fell in love with the hotel, I walked into the garden cafe and felt as if I’d been transported back in time to a magical, fairy-tale garden. It’s actually still under construction because the owner is making some major changes, like adding a swimming pool and parking lot to the facilities, but so far the garden space is gorgeous.
A nice variety of flowers, native plants, ivy, and a few lemon and orange trees surround you as you sit and enjoy local dishes like tagine, or specially made meals like spaghetti bolognese.
I loved writing at my favorite wrought iron table under the shade of the orange tree where antique Moroccan lanterns hung.
Unlike outdoor cafes in Marrakech where I’m harassed nonstop by peddlers trying to sell me sunglasses, jewelry and Argan oil, there’s a fence around the garden, allowing you to people watch but without the constant interruptions you find in the larger cities.
At night, couples will be enchanted by the soft lights and candles in the garden, and you can request traditional Moroccan, or Western music. I loved listening to old classics like Sade and Tracy Chapman.
On the rare evening when it rains since Morroco’s weather is nearly perfect more than 300 days of the year, you’ll be delighted as I was because the hotel staff usually light a fire in the fireplace every night, and one of the guys played drums as the other guests and I sat on the cushions and fat pillows around the lobby, talking and admiring the paintings, antiques and crafts that decorate the lobby salons.
Aside from the bees that attempt to steal my apricot jelly and orange juice in the morning as I enjoyed my (free, included) breakfast each day, there aren’t too many drawbacks to this lovely place, especially when you consider the price; $25 for one person, $35 for a couple. Seriously, you cannot find another hotel as romantic as Chellal at this price!
The only less than perfect thing about Chellal is that one of the employees did not speak English, but she was so delightful and smiling all the time that it really didn’t matter. Besides, the other staff members, and Abdoul the owner spoke English fluently, so it was fine.
I loved the simple, plain walls and bed in my room, especially because the room cannot possibly compete with the stunning beauty of the nature of the trees and gardens and of course, the waterfall outside.
My room had two windows. I kept one window locked because it opened over the roof where anyone could have access and simply climb into my room, so as a single woman that is something to be aware of. But the crime in this town is almost non-existent and everybody knows everybody, so I felt really safe. But the other window had large green shutters that opened up to give me the perfect view of the garden.
The room was spotless and the large, Queen bed was really comfortable. There was a Moroccan style mirror and a few candle holders and a gorgeous lantern in the middle of the ceiling. Otherwise, there was no dresser or closet, only two small end tables and an outlet.
The bathroom was also simple but beautiful. Make sure you bring your own soap and toiletries. However, I always rave about hotels with large towels because I am a voluptuous woman, so I am not a fan of regular-sized towels, and I was thrilled to see how huge the clean, white towels were at Chellal.
There’s no pool (yet), or gym, but you can swim under the waterfall, which is less than a 10 minute walk away. And believe me, you won’t need a gym after walking back up from the base of the waterfall. Hotel Challal is located near the top of the cascades, less than a 5 minute walk away.
There was no blow dryer or safe box in the room, and there’s no television, but I didn’t realize that until I sat down to write this because there were so many things to keep me occupied. There was pretty good complimentary wifi though.
The location for Hotel Chellal d’Ouzoud could not be more perfect. The hotel is just a 2 minute walk from where the taxis, minivans and buses drop tourists off for their tours in the center of town, however, soon there will be a private parking lot for Chellal guests.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes and lots of cute shops where you can buy souvenirs, bags, leather goods, gifts and jewelry.
You can hear the waterfall from Chellal, so from noon until about 3:00 pm when groups of tourists are walking by you will hear people laughing and talking, and sometimes children on field trips from nearby schools play music as they walk down the path to the waterfall, but the silence in the evenings and early mornings is amazing for people looking to relax and sleep late, or to spend some time alone in or out of the room.
A for getting there, click here to read more about transportation options and things to know before you go to Ouzoud.
I fell in love with Hotel Chellal d’Ouzoud, and with the town of Ouzoud in general. For those of you who know me, you know that I’m a city girl I am not one who often suggests small villages or quiet country towns as romantic places to go. Let’s be honest, I love the excitement and the hustle and bustle of the big cities, and I especially love to shop. So if I’m recommending a place like Ouzoud and Hotel Chellal d’Ouzoud, you know I’m crazy about it for a reason.
Take a trip to Ouzoud and you’ll find out why I cannot wait to visit this enchanting place again.