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ON THE SPOTLIGHT

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Stay | Morocco

Dar Ahlam Words by Maria Shollenbarger

"A personal ode to the hotel to which almost all others pale in comparison, so completely does it exceed all expectations and delight all senses"

In my 15-odd years of professionally traveling the world, it has almost always been places, rather than hotels, that have captivated me, delighted me, and stayed with me—in the form of images and memories I could take out and lovingly rifle through long after I'd touched down at home. But one hotel has done more than any destination to define the meaning, and beauty, of travel for me: Dar Ahlam.

"Dar Ahlam" means house of dreams in Arabic, which indeed this singular, 14-room hotel is. A small fortress immersed in the palmeraie of Skoura, in the far southern reaches of Morocco, Dar Ahlam has its own, utterly sui generis magic—a carefully curated balance of aesthetic refinement, service so considered as to seem prescient, and a penchant for the creation of beautiful stories.

 

The labyrinthine dimensions of the house and its gardens lend themselves perfectly to this surprise-and-delight remit. At Dar Ahlam, you never quite know where you'll be eating supper, until someone arrives in the cocktail lounge, as whisper-quiet as a breath of wind, to escort you—where? Perhaps to a corner of the garden, draped in colorful silk banners; perhaps to an alcove off the main hall, lit with five hundred candles and set for two; perhaps to the roof, where a musician plucks at a gimbri and lanterns sit atop the crenellations. Hike into Sidi Fleh gorge with one of the staff, and a turn around a curve in the stream reveals a bivouac like a mirage straight out of 1,001 Nights—kilims laid on the sand, soft cushions around a table, fresh salads and chilled wine laid out to combat the heat of the desert.

 

The brilliance of Dar Ahlam is in how subtly, thoughtfully and exquisitely it exists in its setting. The Moroccan desert is a place of majestic beauty; Dar Ahlam's staff invite you deep into it.

 

Every creature comfort is available here; but what they have understood is that space, solitude, and a bit of mystery are the most priceless luxuries left in this world—and they deliver them.

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