La Gazelle D’Or – Taroudant, Morocco
A Lush, Remote Hideaway
Deservedly famous as one of the most exclusive and opulent retreats in northern Africa, this former hunting lodge is surrounded by its own luxurious oasis in the middle of the desert. Snuggled amid the jasmine, rose bushes, and towering lilies and hibiscus are thirty flower-covered stone cottages in as many acres.
Beyond them stretches a citrus plantation thick with gnarled olive trees. Beyond that lies the desert, and on the horizon, the snowcapped Atlas Mountains. There is a riding stable on the grounds for sunset forays, but most of the well-heeled British and French guests luxuriate in doing nothing.
A famous poolside lunch buffet of numerous Moroccan salads and specialties draws nonhotel visitors. The dining hall is an opulent Moorish tentlike space, where a five-course Moroccan-European dinner is served by gracious waiters exotically dressed as if for some royal feast.
The hotel is a ten-minute drive from the ancient market town of Taroudant, once magnificent enough to be called “Little Marrakech.” Hidden behind 4 miles of red, crenellated, 20-foot-high walls, the town has an excellent souk for some animated bargaining and trinket shopping.