Beautiful setting, wonderful food, cooking class, hikes, just sit and read a book
Beautiful setting, wonderful food, cooking class, hikes, just sit and read a book
Having never traveled to Morocco before, we were almost three weeks in Morocco and wanted to experience as much of the culture, countryside and beauty that we could. One of our stops was Dar Tassa which is near Ouirigane in the Toubkal Mountains. Brahim, the owner, was very responsive to my request for information for our group of eight travelers. We decided to book many months in advance and were not disappointed.
Dar Tassa is located at the end of a dirt road, not uncommon in Morocco, and you travel through small Berber villages to get to Dar Tassa which commands an impressive view over the valley and river. It is remote, so don't expect phones, television, etc. It is also not easy for a large 9 passenger vehicle to navigate the road thru the villages nor turn around easily but our guide and driver, Zaid and Said persevered and we were able to get in and out..
We were greeted by Hamid, the manager and welcomed with mint tea and cookies and a walking tour of the closest village. The rooms were very clean and organized nicely as were the common areas of the dar. The main gathering place was cozy where all the guests felt comfortable going and mingling with each other. From here you could see the view of the mountains, valley and river below. There was also an outdoor terrace which had a Berber tent set up with pillows and rugs laid out . It was a nice spot as well to enjoy the view in nice weather. There were also two other terraces with a great view that guests could enjoy.
Everyone enjoyed the food, typically Moroccan tagines for dinner and for lunch, Moroccan salads. For breakfast, several breads and crepe style pancakes, marmalade, coffee and tea were available.
One in our group took a cooking class which he enjoyed while the rest of us went on a 7 mile hike down into the valley, by the river and thru the villages with a guide organized by Dar Tassa. We had a great time identifying the blooming fruit trees, walking by the cemetery, taking photos and more photos and learning about the culture of the Berbers in the Toubkal mountains.
A highlight of our stay was the Tea Ceremony. Held outdoors on one of the terraces, one male was chosen to be the "maker of the tea" while dressed in a jelaba. The ladies were treated to henna painting on one hand and to watching a local Berber lady cooking bread in a Berber oven.
The owner and his family do not live at Dar Tassa, however, they have great staff operating the dar. I would recommend this dar if you would like a Toubkal mountain experience at a reasonable cost. It is a relatively hard place to get to so a stay of at least two nights is recommended to enjoy the views, the treks from the hotel and to relax. Hi to our Brit friends we met while staying here!
Thank you for you visit, we are glad that you and your group enjoyed your stay in Dar Tassa. In hindsight, we should have organised a drop off and pick up from the village, saving the driver few manœuvres and give the group a chance to walk up the last few hundred meters .
Like some previous reviewers, I had built up a rather idyllic picture of Dar Tassa - largely based on so many glowing reviews on Tripadvisor, the flowery descriptions on the Dar Tassa website, along the enticing pictures of the terrace and surrounding mountain scenery. Unfortunately I was disappointed with what I found.
Let's be clear. Dar Tassa is not a hotel, it is a guest house. It does not claim to be otherwise, but it is easy to forget this, especially when trawling through dozens of different hotel websites - as I did - to try to find the perfect spot to escape to.
The main room serves as open-plan reception area, lounge and dining room. It is simply furnished and decorated. It is not an area I would describe as either warm or attractive and certainly not charming or enchanting as the website suggests, although the views are lovely. The weather was cold and wet for much of the time we stayed and the heating in this communal area was supplied by two portable calor gas heaters. We wished we had brought more clothes! Fortunately there was heating in the bedroom and also the offer of hot water bottles at night – which we gladly accepted.
Our bedroom (Essaouira) was a good size and the bed comfortable, though curiously there was absolutely nowhere to put clothes – no wardrobe, no chest of drawers, not even hooks. It is also worth pointing out that most of the bedrooms are directly off the main lobby/dining area. They do not open onto a 'garden patio' as claimed on the website, nor is it a 'courtyard' - as management have described in their response to another reviewer's complaint. I’m not sure how good the sound-proofing is, but we could certainly hear the girls chattering away whilst working in the kitchen next door to us…. so if you are looking for a ‘comfy love-nest’ as referred to on the website, you may want to think again! The overhead lighting was also quite cold (same also true of the dining area ) and whilst there were several candle holders around, unfortunately all of the candles in them were burnt out.
I tried to have a hot bath to warm myself up after we had sat around in the rather cold central lobby area for some time following our arrival ( partaking of some very welcome milk and dates and customary mint tea). Unfortunately the water was not sufficiently hot and/or plentiful to do this, which was disappointing. There is not a lot of point in having a bath if you cannot use it!
The food I had was quite tasty, but simple - soup/tagine/fruit for dinner. My partner is vegetarian – though he also eats dairy products, eggs and fish - something we had advised the staff of before arrival. His main course on the first night consisted of potatoes and carrots and on the second night, potatoes and peas! No protein of any kind, no rice or cous cous to supplement it. I certainly do not consider that his particular dietary requirements (which are by no means unusual) were adequately catered for as the website promises.
The hammam is still under construction and apparently likely to be so for the next six months….
There really is very little to do in the surrounding area other than walking. The guesthouse is about six kilometres up a mountain track and so, unless you have a car, you really are stuck if the weather isn’t brilliant.
I would not return to Dar Tassa, nor recommend it to friends. Doubtless we would have been happier with our overall experience of the place had the weather been better, but even the sunshine could not have changed some of the basic problems we encountered here.
First of all let me thank you for your visit and for taking the time to write a lengthy review; sorry if the weather was not to your satisfaction, as you can understand it’s outside of our control.
As you correctly stated, Dar Tassa is a Berber guest house not a hotel, we are very proud to be located in a national park and as you also noticed others enjoyed their stay and highlighted many positive aspects on their reviews. If people do not do their research, or easily forget while trawling through dozens of hotels websites (as you adequately put it) that Dar Tassa is an Eco-Friendly mountain retreat, there is not much we can do.
You stated the use of Calor Gas, please let me correct you, we use locally acquired Africa Gas for our heaters. It’s a horrifying thought for any Eco-Friendly establishment to import Gas from the UK, we avoided the use wood fires and instead worked on insulating the building and used a range of more environmentally friendly methods of heating. We are glad you have enjoyed these in your room as well as the comfy bed during your 2 nights with us. All our lights are using energy saving bulbs; for the purpose of reading we have provided bed side lamps.
We wish you would have raised these points with us when you were in Dar, we would have being pleased to sort them out: the Berber box in the room is there for storing clothes and the hot water could have being fixed in matter of minutes, as the information pack states “please raise any points with us as soon as possible we will do our upmost best to resolve them”
We are happy you appreciated the Berber hospitality and found the local cuisine to be tasty.
Apologies for the restricted veggie menu, as you know this can be a challenge in many places around the world. Our previous vegetarian guests have praised our vegetarian dishes to be the best they have had in Morocco. We have strict preparations rules for dietary requirement, obviously in this occasion the dishes did not raise up to the high standards we are known for; we are working to stop this from happening again.
So far we have not advertised or promised our guests a hammam facility, although we are doing the last touch ups on one( which is due to be ready in a matter of weeks, not months as you have generously stated) .
Sorry that the holiday you were looking for is not what we offer in Dar Tassa or any other rural establishment (with the exception of a certain place that require a Golden Amex)
Please find below a selection of what others appreciated doing while staying with us (this is clearly advertised on the website as well as several places in Dar its self)
- Berber cooking lessons on site
- Horse Riding
- Trekking & walking in the national park
- Tinmel mosque 12th century (one of two mosques were foreigners are allowed)
- Muslim and Jewish sanctuary: Moulay Brahim near Asni and Rabi Ham ben Diwan near Anraz
- Imlil village and the Toubkal range
- Berber weekly markets: Asni on Saturday, Talat n'Yacoub on Wednesday and Ouirgane on Thursday
- Old Salt mine in Marigha.
We arrived at Dar Tassa as strangers. In a few short days we became friends and family in this exceptional place in the awesome High Atlas mountains. Hamid's warmth, graciousness and desire to go "the extra mile" to help us in any way possible was so deeply appreciated. He is an amazing host and made us feel like we were part of the family. Amina's coking, henna hand painting and smile will keep our bellies warm and hearts warm for a long time to come. Zeynab's support, warmth and keeping things humming in the background was wonderful! We are already sharing the treasures of our time at Dar Tassa with friends in the UK and USA. We really hope we can return to Dar Tassa before too long to see our friends, Hamid, Amina and Zeynab who were key to our having such a special holiday in this wonderful mountain refuge.
Thank you for your visit and glad you are enjoyed your stay with us .
Warm Regards from the team
We travelled with our 4 year old daughter and had a great time at Dar Tassa. There were lots of relaxing, walking and good food. The service from Dar Tassa's staff were excellent, friendly and accommodating. We had a good time and would go back there again.
As mentioned by all reviews, the place is not a 5 star hotel, but i can say that the service and location are. Our room was clean and adequate, and the toilet too.
I thoroughly enjoyed the cooking class and our walks around the village.
Thank you for your visit and glad that all the family enjoyed the stay in Dar Tassa.
All the team look forwards to your next visit.
Brahim & the team
We had a such a lovely time at Dar Tassa. Two nights was perfect for us - giving us a day to explore the area with a good hike and plenty of time to relax.
All the staff were so friendly and very welcoming. The home cooked food was excellent. Eating breakfast on the terrace, with the sun rising over the mountains was a lovely experience.
Easy and interesting treks on the door step. We saw a herd of goats scampering across the rocks, came across a lone donkey and scrambled across the dry riverbed.
If you go in february make sure you have warm clothes for the evening as it gets chilly as soon as the sun drops behind the mountainside.
Dar Tassa represents excellent value for money. Beautiful views and homely atmosphere make this place really special.
p.s top tip - take some ear plugs in the case the dogs bark at night - it's not bad, but with no booze to 'help' you sleep we had to resort to our ipods.
p.p.s - second top tip - they don't mind you taking your own alcohol as long as you are discreet.