Sunday, March 27, 2016

L'Ma Lodge - Skoura, Morocco

In Morocco we discovered a new type of place for travelers to sleep and eat - the riad. The word "riad" comes from the Arabic word, "ryad," which means garden. Riad architecture began in the city of Volubilis, originally a Roman town (now a ruin which we visited), but later conquered  by Idris I in the late 8th century who established Muslim rule and the Idrisid Dynasty and riad architecture. A traditional Moroccan riad is a house with two or more storeys around an Andalusian-style courtyard. The riad is typically sparse looking on the outside, with walls made of clay or mud brick and few, if any windows. This was primarily for privacy. The dull outside was more than made up for by the beautiful interior garden or courtyard, which often had  lemon or orange trees and a fountain.

We stayed in three riads in Morocco: in Fez (3 nights), in Skoura (1 night) and in Marrakech (3 nights). We ate our breakfasts there (the cost of which was included with the room) and dinner at least one night in each (dinner was an extra charge). 

In many ways L'Ma Lodge in Skoura was my favorite. Skoura is on the desert side of the High Atlas Mountains. It is about a 6 hour drive from Merzouga, where we spent the previous two nights in the Erg Chebbi Dunes, and a 5 hour drive to Marrakech, which was our next major destination. It is quite close to the spectacular Dades Valley and Dades Gorge. 

When we pulled up about 6:45 p.m. after a long day of driving, Judy looked at me like "yuck, what have you gotten me into." She said something to the effect of, "I hope it is nicer on the inside than on the outside." The next morning as we prepared to leave she was wishing she had more time there and giving me a little bit of a hard time for our excursion up the Dades Gorge the day before which kept us from arriving earlier. 
Judy outside L'Ma as we left. Vanessa, one of the owners is to her right, one of the help is to her left, as well as Cacao the dog. The mud wall and dirt parking area in front were what sparked her initial lack of enthusiasm.
L'Ma Lodge is surrounded by a large mud wall (which largely provoked the "yuck"). Inside is a main house with lounges and tables, a fireplace, piano and kitchen. This is where we had dinner and breakfast. 
The main house is behind Judy, as well as part of the garden. 
A fun painting inside one of the eating rooms.
Another painting and beautiful lamps on a lounge wall.
Judy eating breakfast, viewed from one of the other rooms.
The fireplace in the main house. The kitchen is through the door on the left. We ate dinner on the other side of the fireplace.
A lounge area just beyond where we ate dinner.
The fire place with a fire while we ate.
The kitchen.
Immediately outside was a huge garden with a swimming pool, lots of trees and a garden where they grow many of the vegetables they serve with their meals. It also includes benches and rugs to sit or lay down on. 
One of a number of benches in the garden.
Rugs and pillows under an olive tree in the garden.
Part of the garden.
The swimming pool.
A very fun sign post in the garden.
The riad is a separate building which has seven lodging options for visitors: 4 bedrooms and three suites. We were up on the second floor in a nice-sized room with a double bed, a separate toilet and a walk-in shower. It had a screened window that opened to the outside and a nice ceiling fan which we used that night to provide circulation while we slept. 
The riad where the guest housing is located.
Stairs going up to our second level room. I loved the wooden slats.
Part of our bedroom. Morocco has wonderful lamps.
View toward the bathroom from the bed. More of the wonderful wood slats.
Walk-in shower.
View of palm trees and the wall outside our window.
For dinner we started with both black and green olives grown and cured on site and some almonds and another kind of nut. Then came three of the most creative and unusual dishes we had in Morocco and the reason I would love to go back some day and take cooking classes there. First, we had a Moroccan hot salad, that included onion, carrot and some hot chile pepper. I believe it may also have had some pastry in it. Very creative and unusual.
Wonderful place setting for dinner.

Hot Moroccan salad.
Next was one of the best dishes we had in Morocco, a tagine of lamb and sweetened apples. We had some better lamb on the trip, this was good but a little bit more tough than other lamb we had, but the apple was the best cooked apple I've ever eaten, very soft and sweet. At least part of the cooking of the apples involved coating it with honey and the sweet apple with the savory lamb was extraordinary.
Lamb and apple tagine. I will never view cooked apples in the same way.
Finally, desert was a very unusual and very funky texture dessert drink of mint and lemon, created by Vanessa, one of the owners, which involved lots of trial and error to develop. The foamy top was a sort of gelatinous mixture of lemon and lime topped by lime zest and the liquid mixture below was also a mint and lemon mixture of sweet and sour. A perfect drink for the desert as well as dessert. I would have loved that drink in the Erg Chebbi Dunes, very refreshing and light. A killer dinner.
Lemon and lime dessert drink.
Breakfast was highlighted by jams and other spreadables made on site, much of it from fruits and vegetables grown on site. They included the following: chocolate curve; honey; ipomee cream (made from sweet potatoes); strawberry & citron; orange & spices; fig; stewed apple; banana, vanilla & rum; almond & olive oil; carrot and orange flowers; pomegranate; pumpkin & cinnamon; and strawberry. I took a piece of flat bread/crepe and put a dollop of each on it and in that way sampled them all. All were good, but the pomegranate and chocolate were particular favorites. I also had a more traditional French crepe which I used as a base for some sliced hard-boiled egg and cheese, one of the few times on the trip we found cheese.
Breakfast jams lined up on a table.
A few of the varieties.
French crepe with cheese and egg.
That morning I discovered cacao the dog, a puppy, recently adopted after it was found homeless at their doorstep several weeks below. Cute, cute, stole my heart.
Cacao the dog.
Loved L'Ma Lodge. Would love to go back and to recommend it to anyone traveling to Morocco.


  1. What fun! I love the decor. Were you the only guests? The food looks yummy.

    1. There were other guests, but we did not have any interaction with them.

  2. This was a true oasis. You forgot to mention the drive in on a very narrow dirt road. It was hard to imagine the Eden that lay behind the plain mud walls. Great room, great food, great environment, and great people.