Glass unwinds in a seaside Moroccan haven at La Sultana Oualidia

IF YOU could package Morocco in a bottle then pour it all out you would probably end up with something very like the La Sultana Oualidia.

Built to resemble a casbah, all sand coloured stone, ascending terraces and cool passageways, it offers up the quintessentially Moroccan experience with an extra eye on traditional interiors, classic local cuisine and age-old spa rituals.

The only thing missing is the hustle and bustle of a medina. But that is a plus. Located in the sleepy village of Oualidia about a two-and-a-hour drive from Marrakech, where its larger sister hotel, La Sultana Marrakech, is based, this is a place you head to for peace and quiet.

Bounded by lush gardens and overlooking a tranquil salt water lagoon famous for its bird life and oyster beds, it is just what the doctor ordered to still the mind and relax the body. Beyond lies the open sea, where mighty Atlantic rollers come crashing down, one after another, but even these are a soothing, distant thunder.    

Salt water Lagoon

Despite its imposing dimensions, La Sultana lives up to its description as a boutique hotel, comprising just 12 rooms and suites (plus the exclusive Treehouse Suite in the gardens) each one different from the other but all elegantly appointed, with spacious private balconies looking out to the lagoon and nice little touches like Clarins bathroom accessories and stylish Tunisian porcelain crockery.

On the day I arrived, I sat around an open wood fire that had been made up especially for me to ward off the evening chill, before going down to dinner at the orangery-style restaurant, where I was served delicious Moroccan cuisine, with locally sourced clams, oysters and spider crab and vegetables grown in the hotel’s own organic garden.

Mealtimes were always a pleasure and the staff ever attentive. Thanks to a hotel cookery class I attended, I can now at least prepare a fish tagine with salad.      

La Sultana Oualidia

It was early March and although the sun was shining out of a perfectly blue sky it didn’t seem warm enough to go for a swim the next day in the outdoor pool or try beginner’s luck at the surf school further along the lagoon beach. Instead I opted to go kayaking with one of the hotel’s sports instructors. It was an idyllic experience, passing by brightly painted fishing boats bobbing about in the breeze and cormorants perched like statues on wooden stakes.

After reaching the other side of the estuary we strolled to the cliff tops, where we viewed the ocean working itself into a spectacular lather as it came up against the rocks below. By now suitably warmed up, I had a wonderfully refreshing swim back in the calm waters of the lagoon before joining a party for a beach barbecue of grilled seafood.

Indoor pool and spa


In Morocco public bathhouses known as hammams are a focal part of everyday life and so I jumped at the opportunity of visiting the hotel’s individualised version. It’s an ancient tradition involving a total cleansing of the body and as such requires you to leave modesty at the door. 

Wearing only disposable pants, I spent the best part of 45 minutes sitting in a steam room and having hot water repeatedly thrown over me by a smiling attendant, being smothered in soft and not particularly sweet-smelling local black soap before being scrubbed all over and watching my dead skin fall away and disappear down the plughole.

Result – you float out of the room with your skin feeling like a new born baby’s. A full body massage, front and back, followed and I was so impressed I returned the next day for a facial. These were all part of La Sultana’s spa and wellness treatments that take place by the majestic Romanesque-style indoor pool and are definitely not to be missed.

by Angela Cobbinah

Rates for La Sultana Oualidia: Until November 4, from £589 per night. From November 5-December 19, from £471 per night. From December 20-January 6, from £589 per night.

Rates for Sea and the City package combining La Sultana Oualidia and La Sultana Marrakech start from £2,844 for three nights at La Sultana Marrakech and three nights at La Sultana Oualidia. The package is valid all year round (except Christmas and New Year), with a minimum stay of two nights required at one of the properties.  

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