Come and discover what it’s like to stay at Chez Amaliya!
Under the watchful eye of a pre-Cambrian quartzite lion, Chez Amaliya was the choice of auberge for our stay in the Ameln Valley. We were on tour with Wild Morocco and had decided to stop for a couple of days to do some hiking and gorge exploring. Built in the style of a Moroccan kasbah, Chez Amaliya is tucked away amongst the almond and argan trees of the Ameln Valley, a few miles from the small town of Tafraoute. A chain of red granite and sandstone cliffs stretches as far as the eye can see, pleasantly dominating the entire valley, with the rock constantly changing colour in the sun and casting a golden glow over the 26 Berber villages down below. It is a truly beautiful and tranquil spot and I can’t believe it’s taken us six trips to Morocco to finally get here!
The main attraction of Chez Amaliya is of course the view, and the pool. Together that combination will out-do pretty much anywhere else in the valley! Hiking in the morning and swimming in the afternoon, what more does a girl need to stay invigorated?
There is a lot of space at Chez Amaliya, and even with 18 bedrooms we never felt on top of the other guests. We always managed to find our own private spot whether that was outside on the terrace or inside at the bar, in the dining room or salon. I loved the wicker baskets for magazines in the lounge. Each one had the flag of the corresponding language contained within, so no matter where guests come from (within reason!) there is always something to read.
Up on the roof terrace are a few larger apartments for families, and even better views!
Friendly Dutch owner Liesbeth made us feel right at home, and it was lovely chatting to her in the evenings about the valley and our plans for the next day. We were there primarily to do some walking but didn’t want to hire a guide, so were delighted with the little photo map trails she has put together, and enjoyed a day of exploring the Ameln Valley by ourselves. I would like to say we didn’t get lost but…
The other staff were a mixed bunch. Some would hardly make eye contact and looked like they didn’t want to be there, whilst others were friendly, chatty and always smiling. Although we didn’t share a common mother tongue, communication wasn’t a problem.
Flag Beer is, after all, a universal language!!
Our double room was nothing special, and the layout did feel a little like a motel, but it was functional and did the job. We did have a lovely view out towards the mountains, and despite being on the gound floor, it felt so safe we left the window open at night for a bit of a breeze. The bed was surprisingly comfortable, and for once I actually slept pretty well.
The air conditioning was working on overdrive in the heat, and began to drip continuously the first night. We mentioned this to Liesbeth next morning and when we returned after our walk it had been sorted!
The bathroom is a wet room, and with almost constant puddles we had to remove our footwear each time we needed to use the toilet. Not really a hardship when flip-flops are the order of the day!
The cost: DH500 for a double room
If you’ve opted for half board like we did, a set menu dinner is included with a couple of choices for each of the three courses. It wasn’t the most imaginative or flavoursome dining experience (the spices and seasoning had clearly been dumbed down for the European tourists, which really doesn’t work for Harira soup!), but considering how little it cost, I have to say it was in fact excellent value for money. The à la carte options sounded a lot more inspired, but of course were more expensive, and I didn’t see any other guests eating off this menu whilst we were there.
Breakfast was okay. The bread wasn’t fresh, but there were boiled eggs and jams, and again, for the price we couldn’t really complain.
What we loved
Being able to sit on the terrace eating dinner whilst watching the sun going down behind the Anti Atlas mountains, turning the rock into several shades of burnt orange. Something money can’t buy!
What wasn’t so great
We’re generally quiet and inconspicuous on our travels, assuming that the entire world isn’t really interested in our lives. Just like we are not, in fact, desperate to hear all about how successful Maggie’s new business is across the pond, how Doris nearly left her shopping bag in the taxi or how the heat is playing havoc with Brian’s eczema. Yet after a couple of days here we could relate the life stories of several of our fellow-guests who clearly didn’t appreciate that loud whining voices travel far in such otherwise peaceful surroundings. Honestly, these people drive me NUTS! Are they really so much more important than the rest of us?
Of course this isn’t the fault of the hotel, but I do wonder if certain ‘types’ of people are drawn to the place.
The Wifi was very intermittent too, but hey, you’re in the middle of nowhere so it’s frankly impressive they have it at all!
Whilst we didn’t have our usual private butler, patchouli scented hair conditioner or four poster bed, I have to say we really enjoyed our stay at Chez Amaliya and would definitely pop in again next time we’re in the Ameln Valley. Sometimes luxury is in the scenery, in the smiling staff and in the ability to make us feel relaxed. In which case, Chez Amaliya had it all!