Berber Lodge by Romain Michel Meniere
A scenic drive from Marrakech, along untouched Moroccan countryside and local villages, gravel filled paths lead you to Berber Lodge; a newly opened hotel nestled at the foothills of the Atlas Mountain. Traditional Berber building techniques; earth bricks and palm tree ceilings combined with beldi, sophisticated chic interiors.
Everything is laid out Berber Village style over two acres of an old olive grove and beautiful gardens. This ten lodge hotel was created by Swiss designer and architect Romain Michel Meniere with some help of his longtime friends from Studio KO’s Karl Fournier and Oliver Marty as well as Paris based landscape designer Arnaud Casaus. For more than a decade in Morocco working as an interior designer for many Marrakech’s most popular hotspots, Michel Meniere decided to open his own hotel, showcasing his passion for mixing local architecture with tasteful interiors and a modern take on traditional Moroccan cuisine.
What is the link between the « Grand Café de la Poste », the « Yves Saint Laurent Museum » in Marrakech, the « Blue Hour Relais & Chateaux » in Essaouira and the « Balmain Boutique » in New York? – All these places are the creations of architects Karl and Olivier from Studio KO. « Berberlodge » is the outcome of a collaboration between Studio KO and Romain Michel Menière; a Swiss interior designer to whom marrakech owes « Bab Ourika », « Riad Tarabel » and « Riad Mena » as well as the famous coffee and restaurant « Café Nomad ». Famed for their refined taste, stunning atmospheres and historic places, this group of creators collaborators and friends imagined « Berberlodge » as a country house warm and inviting like homes of our grandmothers where you would sleep in feather beds after enjoying rustic meals sourced in small vegetable gardens next to a crackling fireplace. Since more than a decade Romain lives and collected objects all over Morocco without knowing that one day they would add the unique spirit to his own hotel. Resin lamps by Achille Castiglioni, 60s leather and mahogany armchairs, marble sinks, brass tables inspired by Jean Michel Frank, 50s secretaries, or living room furniture recovered from an Austro-Hungarian aristocrat. – They all found their place in the lounges and rooms of this timeless lodge, next to an ancient Kasbah in the middle of Berber lands.
Romain and his friends directly fell in love when finding this slightly uneven terrain in the village of Oumnas about twenty five kilometers south the city of Marrakech. Planted with elderly olive trees and decorated with ancient gardens this two hectares of land are turned towards the Atlas Mountains. Thanks to local craftsmen the construction of « Berberlodge » is done in the purest Berber traditions and skills of architecture relaying namely on mud bricks, reed ceiling, palm tree trunks and eucalyptus wood. The details and finishes make a different form than the usual. Berber white carpets , blankets for the bathroom, feather pillows and fans, soft wool blankets from the middle Atlas mixed with bedheads, handmade of straw by craftsmen on the road of Essaouira sensual terra-cotta tiles covered with carpets from Asila, « Berberlodge » is the synthesis of local craftsmanship, traditional techniques and state of the art installations and facilities.
A stony desert, a hilly road, a Kasbah made out of earth, a little berber village – and behind this, a wall of rammed earth. « Berberlodge » is a an oasis we wish to keep a secret. For us to reveal this secret to you is a privilege, as for all those secret places whose name has been whispered to you while you making promise not to tell anyone. Far from the urban – but not too much – and ordinary hotels. – « Berberlodge » ranks in the class of exceptional places. However, here we have no glittery luxury or star chef, just a good dose of sophisticated taste, elegance, sense of harmony and know-how. to arrive here means you signing up for the promise of a timeless retreat only a few places known how to offer.
Photography by Sophia van den Hoek- by Matt Watts