Les Trois Chameaux: A Rustic Chic Retreat on Morocco’s Coast
When you think of Morocco, you immediately think of Marrakesh, medinas and magic carpets. There is an endless stream of evocative images, angles and ways in which to soak up this old world culture. So, once you’ve hit the can't miss Marrakesh, Casablanca and the Atlas Mountains, head south on the coastal road to the idyllic village of Mirleft to grab yet another slice of this North African life.
We started our tour of Morocco in Casablanca before heading south to the tony coastal towns of Essaouira and Agadir, known as the Miami of Morocco. A stunning oceanfront lunch, poolside cocktails and the lure of a state of the art spa almost had us changing our minds and our travel plans. We came close to opting out of a night in Mirleft in exchange for Agadir’s modern amenities.
It could have been travel trust or wanderlust, but something drew us to the unknown allure of Mirleft, another 140 km south of Agadir.
From the '60s and onward Mirleft has been a go to destination for seasoned surfers and an artist enclave for all, including Jimi Hendrix in his day. Today the seaside village continues to be a favored place amongst global gypsetters who prefer an arty ambiance and a laid back aura with their luxury landscape.
After winding our way up the dusty dirt road, we knew we had reached travel nirvana as we entered the rustic chic retreat of Les 3 Chameaux (Three Camels). We were given a warm and local welcome by two lazy and leisurely white labs on the front porch before being shown to our rooms.
In addition to the main house, there are ten rooms on site at Les 3, all slightly varied in size, layout and design. The former French fort built in 1935 boasts old world elegance and an inherently French flair, yet maintains a Moroccan ambiance throughout.
We couldn’t settle in quick enough as everyone had different desires and ways in which they wanted to soak up the seaside ambiance. Some took off to trek in the hills, checking out the old fort, while others took their Moroccan tea and their time to simply watch the sunset over the sea below. I opted for a dip in the pool with views of the steeped hills framing the back of the property.
The staff is largely French speaking with a French manager who splits his time between Paris and Mirleft. Our dinner was meticulously prepared by a local Moroccan woman who was busy cooking traditional dishes over an open fire. She made the 20+ small plates she served us look seamless.
The labs joined us for dinner, clinging close to the table in hopes of a random rub or a few dropped morsels, both of which were delivered. The fresh, locally sourced traditional meal was paired with surprisingly good Moroccan wine and was by far one of the best meals of the week.
Due to our early departure, we rose with the first fleck of light the next day to trek up to the remains of the fort just above. I could only imagine a couture-styled photo shoot with cutting edge heels kicking the African dust up and around a stunning silhouette countered with rustic old broken down walls peppered with recent grafiti. Every inch of the fort had a story to tell.
After fresh baked breads and strong Moroccan coffee, we reluctantly pulled away and headed down the hill while the labs lazily looked on, quietly mocking us for our early departure.
If time permits on your trip, there are endless activities to take in on site from cooking classes to a traditional hammam. If venturing in to town there is surfing, paragliding, 4 wheeling and horseback riding on the beach, donkey rides in the hills, fishing on the beach and visits with local Berbers, to name but a few.
If looking for a retreat, artists and writers tend to carve out a weekend window or several weeks. You can always take a page out of the local labs book and simply soak in all the Moroccan magic by doing absolutely nothing.
Images by Karen Loftus