Chrissy's Collection: Le Temple des Arts, Ouarzazate, Morocco
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What is Chrissy’s Collection?With her lengthy travel background, Chrissy has years of experience assessing accommodation with quality and customer satisfaction firmly in mind. She was also a hands-on Director of an upmarket Kensington apartment-hotel for five years.
As our own Silver Travel Advisor we are delighted that Chrissy brings her experience and eye for stylish detail when she reviews Boutique and Country house hotels. Chrissy’s Collection are her personal recommendations of hotels with something extra that makes them stand out from the rest: discreet and exceptional levels of personal service; stylish, contemporary and comfortable interiors where relaxation is key; smaller, quirky or character properties; luxury hotels with super spa facilities, exquisite dining or amazing locations. In short, very special places.
When researching where to stay in this city on the edge of the desert, only 3 hours drive from the Sahara and the camel trail to Timbuktu, I discovered this was Morocco’s answer to Hollywood where so many well-known films have been made. Looking for accommodation on the web I came across Le Temple des Arts, a homage to Hollywood and the films made in Morocco. Quirky, and slightly concerned it might be a tad tacky, I was intrigued and had to visit. As it turned out, this 5* luxury guest-house was actually a great find and an excellent place to stay.
Located on the edge of central Ouarzazate but handy for the film studios and the markets, the accommodation is in a quiet residential neighbourhood rather than the hotel sector of the city. It is a large and grand new house with its own small delightful garden and swimming pool. With seven themed suites it may come as no surprise that the owner is a Moroccan film producer who felt there might be a gap in the market for Hollywood style accommodation in this city where famous faces, film production teams and tourists all rub shoulders together. With his contacts in the business he has used the local craftsmen who normally work on the film sets to bring their skills to replicate famous film images for his guest-house. And, surprisingly, although the experience was a little surreal and definitely Hollywood at times, it works and is not at all tacky.
On arrival we walked down steps surrounded by beautifully sculpted stone ancient creatures from the movies into the large open plan reception and lounge areas. We were then given the choice of two suites. The Gladiator suite,(where Ridley Scott reportedly stayed earlier this year) or the Lawrence of Arabia suite. Not wishing to turn down the offer of sleeping in the same bed as Ridley I was torn, but eventually we went for Lawrence of Arabia – after all, it was a bit more in keeping with the destination.
Our suite was lovely, with a separate seating area and beautifully furnished. Hand-woven heavy wool drapes hung over the bed and in front of the wardrobes to create a Bedouin tent feel to the room with a heavy wooden carved bed and door, highly patterned woven rugs, Moroccan lanterns and beautifully illuminated alcoves with ornate brass grills. The bathroom was a good size with separate bath and shower.
Luckily I was able to view some of the other suites whilst staying at the house and I have to say they were rather magnificent. Each suite has the framed movie poster outside the door to give a hint of what awaits inside and none of them disappointed, as each suite has stayed true to the film from which it takes its name.
Besides Lawrence’s suite, there were two other junior suites, Gladiator and Alexander the Great, both of which were a good size and decorated in the style of the movies, though a little vibrant for my taste. The senior suite, Kundun, inspired by Martin Scorsese’s film that was partly shot in Ouarzazate, is a fusion of Asian splendour complete with Buddhas, a Zen-styled bedroom and small sitting room perfect for meditation and a very luxurious, relaxing space. The Cleopatra Royal Suite was positively gigantic with a large separate sitting room with fireplace and an enormous bathroom with a central bath where Cleo would have been quite at home languishing in her asses milk. Murals of ancient Egyptians adorn the walls and the wood and elaborate brass four-poster bed with muslin drapes was very impressive. Both of these two latter suites have generous balconies overlooking the garden and swimming pool.
The house has its own well-appointed Hammam and therapy room that I didn’t use but my husband did. On our first day the hotel organized their therapist to provide a sports massage that he said was fantastic and for the first time in years he was practically skipping down the stairs. In fact it was so good he had another short massage on his knee the next day on the basis he wasn’t sure if he would ever get such a good therapist to work on it again at those kind of prices, £38 for a full hour’s top quality massage.
All bedrooms are on the first floor (no lift) and open onto the interior balcony overlooking the large reception area and Mesopotamia indoor patio area. The open plan lounge has been cleverly designed so there are three separate seating areas, including Moroccan and Berber salons. A few steps up at either end of the reception area there is a small stylish bar and a cosy dining room, perfectly styled as Out of Africa.
Breakfast was a very relaxed affair and taken outside in the garden around the pool and consisted of the usual fruit, pancakes, pastries and eggs. One evening we ate in the Out of Africa dining room, which was atmospheric and the food was good, though not quite in the same league as some of the highly rated restaurants in Ouarzazate, for which it is well known.
The maximum number of guests that can be accommodated is fourteen. Consequently, the staff to guest ratio is very high and the service received personal and attentive from young friendly staff who were keen to go out of their way to be helpful.
A stay at Le Temple des Arts has all the advantages of staying in a top class hotel at a reduced cost and the atmosphere of being in someone’s private house, albeit a very grand Hollywood house.
Le Temple des Arts
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