A short drive from the coastal town of Essaouira in Morocco, where raw authenticity mixes with colonial charm, set amongst olive groves and countryside roads, nests Villa Anouk.
My boyfriend and I arrived there on a warm January afternoon. We were driving up the rocky piste leading to the villa when I got a quick glimpse of its honey-coloured silhouette peeking through the trees. It was some time between then and the moment the driver pulled by the flower-adorned fountain at the entrance when I knew I was at no ordinary hotel.
It took me quite some time to think of the best way to describe Villa Anouk until I’ve realised that, to me, it remained more of a feeling than a place – a sentiment that I share towards few hotels.
So, let’s start with that feeling.
Imagine a place where time passes slowly, wrapped up in a serenity so harmoniously perfect that it makes you want to hold each moment in the palm of your hand, just so you can gaze at it in a delighted amazement.
Here, the time is measured out by rose petal baths and the soothing sound of mint tea poured from a brass teapot. The smell of rosemary and fresh flowers accompanies your every step, its warmth contrasting against the coolness of the stone floors.
At Villa Anouk, magic dances in every corner and smiles at you, inviting you to join in.
Delicious meals appear on the veranda table as if with a wave of a magic wand and, a backdrop of it all, there are the countryside views stretching for miles and miles. There may be no mountains or castles to gaze at in the distance, but the landscapes surrounding the villa are wonderful and soothing in their simplicity. They are especially beautiful at sunset and sunrise when the sun sets the sky on fire, and the horizon begins to resemble an aquarelle painting.
In fact, one of my favourite memories from the stay was sneaking out on the rooftop right before the sunrise with a cup of tea in my hand and a blanket under my arm. I’d then sit on the roof, my back resting on the large dome hovering over the kitchen underneath, taking in the calmness unfolding in front of me.
Once you step inside Villa Anouk, you’ll be enchanted by its dream-like interiors, where Moroccan drapery and vintage market finds contrast against the coolness of the stone walls. Enchanting and brimming with an earthy, boho vibe, the villa embodies tranquillity.
Hand-built by local artisans, the stone walls and high, thatched ceilings are a perfect canvas for the lovingly curated Moroccan Beldi Chic accents. The attention to detail is impeccable, from the way the embroidered cushions are scattered across the sofas to the handpainted ceilings, marked by gentle brush strokes.
There are seven bedrooms in total, including five stunning suites, each boasting its own unique style. True to the villa’s intimate feel, the rooms are spaced out in a way that offers a lot of privacy, and the hotel’s many hideaways are perfect for a bit of me time. My boyfriend and I were very lucky to be the only guests but I’d imagine that even once fully booked, the place retains its intimate and exclusive feel.
Out of all the rooms, our suite was my absolute favourite. Entered through a private corridor right by the swimming pool entrance, it comprised of a wonderfully bright bedroom, a sunny patio and a bathroom straight out of a dream. The almost theatrical, engraved wooden doors led to the first part of the bathroom, facing an antique vanity decorated with fresh flowers. Then, hidden behind a curtain, was the most beautiful part of the suite – a bright room dominated by a huge, beautifully intricate Venetian mirror facing a vintage roll-top bath.
Wherever we’d look, it became clear that the hotel is a labour of love – and behind the magic of Villa Anouk is its namesake, Anouk Beguery.
Dreamed into life by American-born Anouk, the story behind this magical sanctuary is just as unique and enchanting as the villa itself. In a true Eat, Pray, Love meets The Devil Wears Prada twist, Anouk, the former assistant editor at the French Vogue, gave up her glitzy New York life which I’m sure, ‘millions of girls would kill for’, to follow a dream that that took her down quite a different path… one leading all the way to rural Morocco, a country she’s never set a foot at before.
While Anouk was certainly more accustomed to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian than living in the Moroccan countryside, her dream of opening a boutique hotel fuelled by the desire of living authentically kept her going. Needless to say, Villa Anouk quickly became a success. So much so that it became a hideaway for many A-listers seeking refuge from their busy lives (as much as I’m dying to share who else stayed at ‘my’ gorgeous suite, it’s only fair that they keep that little bit of magic to themselves).
I met Anouk on the day we arrived at the villa. Dressed in a loose black dress that fluttered as she walked down the stairs to greet us, her only accessory a gorgeous snake-shaped bracelet, Anouk embodied the serenity and grace that she injected into the place.
If it wasn’t for her lovely spirit and the desire to follow her dream, my time in Morocco wouldn’t be anywhere near as enchanting. Thank you Anouk for adding a bit of magic to my stay!
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