Nestled within an enchanting coastline, Zak Smith enjoys the sound of silence in the remote La Sultana.
Enchanting, naturally beautiful and unlike it’s neighbours, stable, Morocco is the gem of North Africa, a longtime favourite for extended weekend breaks, combining authentic cultural charm with French sophistication and near perfect weather. A place where tolerance, a fascinating history and tantalising food combine, there is more to the country than its obvious tourist hotspots, and one hidden paradise, Oualidia, is just waiting to be discovered.
Oualidia felt like the end of the world, with miles of pristine, untouched beaches and crystal waters, so remote at times I felt like Tom Hanks screaming for ‘Wilson’ in Castaway. With a backdrop of rugged, mountainous coastline scored with sand dunes leading onto an open lagoon off the Atlantic coast, the topography was breathtaking. The baking African sun was cooled by a gentle sea breeze, swaying the lush palm and olive trees along the sea front. Nestled within is La Sultana, appearing like an apparition in an almost empty landscape, save for the tiny village it sits in.
With only twelve rooms, the hotel is small enough to feel like a boutique, but large enough to feel like you are the only guests. It is styled in traditional Moroccan architecture, with colourful Berber furniture, local handicraft and soft white linens giving detail to the bedrooms, all of which have sea views and an outdoor sea-water Jacuzzi fed by the lagoon.
With miles of sandbanks, internationally renowned oyster beds and saltwater marshes, the hotel is a Mecca for seafood lovers. La Sultana forages for its own oyster in the lagoon on which the hotel sits: a vibrant and plentiful ecosystem where clams, lobsters and everything in between swims in abundance. As well as the sea-food, the hotel has a sunken courtyard for evening meals, with a wrap-around fish tank adding atmosphere to the space where local delicacies like vegetable tagine and slow cooked shoulder of lamb can be enjoyed. With the fields next door to the hotel, it was quite literally ‘farm to table’, the food flavoursome and rustic, the fresh mint tea particularly satisfying after a lengthy, heavy and totally stuffing, traditional Moroccan meal.
La Sultana Oualidia has a beautiful infinity swimming pool, giving a total sweep of the 11km long lagoon, where you can sit and enjoy the sound of silence, or, for an even more private experience, the hotel can arrange for a picnic on a secluded beach, reachable via boat from the jetty. If this all sounds too idyllic, there is action to be found, in the form of quad-biking. No ‘health and safety’ here, just a breathtaking coastline, dozens of swooping dunes and empty pathways to rampage along.
La Sultana has a sister property in Marrakech, a beautiful boutique made up of five traditional Riyadh’s, perfect for layovers before or after the R&R in Oualidia, and as transit usually goes through Marrakech, a visit is a must. However, for a totally unique experience, head first to Oualidia. Watching the sun set on the jetty at the oyster bar with a glass of Moroccan Medaillon rosé and only the sound of the waves for company was bliss, and as it is only a three hour flight from London, it may just be the easiest, coolest chillout weekend you could ever have.