Courtney Whitaker stays at The Capaldi Hotel, Lalla Takerkoust, low Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh.


The Capaldi is an easy 45-minute drive from Marrakesh, through the desert and Berber villages. Hire a driver and enjoy the scenery from the comfort of your air-conditioned vehicle; we were fascinated by the opulence of some of the palatial resorts and kasbahs we passed, including Richard Branson's Kasbah Tamadot.

Fans of The Night Manager TV series might recognise the area from certain episodes; filming took place on this stretch of the Agafay Desert, to depict the Syrian/Turkish border.

Check-in experience: First impressions certainly count here: Beautiful Moorish doorways frame the hotel's reception area, dripping in fragrant jasmine vines.


The owners were not there but we were warmly welcomed by Corinne, the manager, who ushered us over to comfortable couches and served traditional thé a la menthe while we filled out some paperwork.

Room: We had initially booked into a Junior Garden Suite, but were pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to a luxurious Deluxe Suite, complete with a fireplace, lounge area, dressing room and private terrace.

The Hotel: The hotel itself is a relatively small 23 rooms and suites, well spread-out for maximum privacy. This place truly is paradise, warmed by the heat of the Agafay Desert and overlooked by the high Atlas Mountains off in the distance. The immaculate and expansive grounds can be negotiated by cobbled pathways, lined with pretty Moroccan lamps, mature palms and olive trees. Your senses will awaken with the gorgeous fragrance of roses and jasmine, while vibrant red bougainvillea vines run riot over the sunbaked buildings. The Capaldi also has an equally popular sister Riad in the Medina of Marrakesh, called Riad Capaldi.

The Bed: A massive, comfortable king.

The Bathroom: A traditional rustic bathroom with Italian fittings, double basins, a bath and walk-in shower.

Food and Drink: The Restaurant Capaldi is your only immediate food source here, unless you venture off on a day trip into one of the villages. But no matter, the food at the restaurant is fabulous, and so are the staff. The restaurant boasts chefs with Michelin-star experience, stunning decor, a large fireplace, and is split into cosy areas to dine both as couples or in large groups. Because we were with friends, we chose to dine outside most of the time, enjoying the cooler night air during a particularly memorable dinner. The excellent wine selection includes Moroccan Gris (grey wine - amazing), and the meals are prepared using locally sourced ingredients. We ate breakfast here too: perfectly poached eggs, hot cakes, and the obligatory mint tea.

Facilities: Although there are no televisions in the rooms at this hotel (a good thing in my opinion), there is - wait for it - a private, 24-seat indoor cinema. We booked the cinema for a late-night movie, and the staff made sure we had an endless supply of food and drink during the film. The hotel also has a traditional marble hammam, two swimming pools, as well as the restaurant and a small gift shop. We spent much of our stay in the swimming pool with an undercover outdoor lounge, a welcome reprieve from the 48-degree heat. The obliging staff kept us well-watered, traipsing back and forth from the restaurant with bottles of rosé, gin and tonics, buckets of ice, and stunning cheese platters.

Activities: As well as lounging by the pool with a cocktail, there are activities in the area for less sloth-like holidaymakers. Take a 40-minute hike or mountain bike ride to the idyllic Lake Lalla Takerkaust, take a picnic with you or stop along the way at French restaurant Le Flouka. There is also camel trekking, para-gliding and quad-biking in the area. Hot air ballooning is also available - this needs to be booked well in advance - and we regrettably missed out.

Views: From the smaller pool, and most suites, you can enjoy the stunning vista of the high Atlas Mountains. In the cooler months, you'll get postcard-perfect views of the snow-capped peaks.

Contact: Capaldi Hotel and Restaurant, Route d'Amizmiz km39, Lalla Takerkoust, Marrakesh, or go to

Wi-Fi: Free. But very poor reception in areas. This could be because of the thick stone-walled buildings, and the fact we were in the desert. Just Instagram those envy-inducing selfies when you get back to reality.

Price: Rooms start at $252 per night for a Standard Farmhouse room; our Deluxe Suite was $660 per night. Food and transport costs are additional.

What's so good about this place: See above. But seriously, add a visit here to your bucket list (and do the hot air ballooning over the desert).

Would I return: Absolutely.