Morocco Reviews

Hotel Review: Dar Kawa

June 12, 2017

Talented tastemaker,Valérie Barkowski, transformed her Marrakech residence into a chic guesthouse and it’s sure to become your favourite Moroccan home away from home.

There is no shortage of boutique guesthouses in Marrakech, yet some have a certain je ne sais quoi. Dar Kawa is one of those special lodgings where stylish flair meets home-style comfort. There’s a slow pace to life inside the walls of Dar Kawa, a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of the city’s chaotic medina. It’s your Moroccan home away from home – promising privacy, comfort and discreet service.

Designer patio Dar Kawa Valerie Barkowski Marrakech Morocco


There’s something deeply personal about Dar Kawa, perhaps because it used to be Valérie Barkowski’s private residence before it was transformed into a guesthouse. The Belgian designer and creative director is the artistic talent behind this chic abode.

Dar Kawa has a monochrome palette of black and smoky-grey set against a bright, white backdrop. Each piece of artwork, furniture or textile is likely to have been sourced from Barkowski’s worldly wanderings or designed herself. Although the vast space is carefully curated, there’s a sense of effortless style. Simplicity, authenticity and casual elegance combine to ensure a truly relaxing stay.

The restored 17th century townhouse was once a place of prayer and meditation. The space retains a sense of tranquillity and great care was taken to preserve the original Saadian architecture. The traditional foundation has been refreshed with eclectic, modern interiors.


We are welcomed into the central courtyard of Dar Kawa. It feels a world away from the bustling streets of the old medina. The interior patio is haven of orange trees, dappled light, gleaming marble floor and fabric billowing in the warm Moroccan air. Decorative lanterns and hanging stars glint in the sunlight and in the centre of the open space stands a sweetly-scented bowl of rose petals.

In prime position, framed by the intricately carved stucco archway, is a white lounge scattered with hand-printed cushions. We are served a tall gold pot of fragrant Moroccan mint tea and with this warm welcome we sink into the pillowy-soft lounge.

Room: Mumtaz Suite

The Mumtaz Suite could be described as apartment-style living quarters, with a private wing of the riad extending from the suite to a separate lounge and bathroom. The bedroom is thoughtfully decorated with objet d’art, a shelf crammed with well-thumbed books and the furnishings are designed by Barkowski herself (many pieces can be found in her NO-MAD 97% India collection or V. Barkowski label). The spacious suite has everything one needs to feel right at home – there’s a large double bed, a lounge seating area and generous desk space.

Around the hotel

Beyond the central patio, the four-room guesthouse also has a sun-soaked rooftop terrace that features a cactus garden and pretty views over the medina.


Although there isn’t an in-house restaurant, there’s a seasonal menu to choose from. One can book lunch or dinner simply by informing the staff. Beautifully presented meals set with tableware (also designed by Barkowski) are served in the communal spaces around the hotel from the long table in the patio to the rooftop terrace. Saida, the house-cook, prepares Moroccan delicacies using organic, local ingredients. You only have to peep inside the kitchen to get a feel for how homely it is. Even the kitchen doesn’t escape the Barkowski’s artistic eye – wooden ladles decorate the wall like a modern art-installation.


Lingering over the generous breakfast spread at Dar Kawa is a real treat. There’s homemade bread, Moroccan pancakes, thick homemade jams, local honey, yoghurt, fruit and eggs. Served with freshly squeezed orange juice, traditional mint tea or a strong pot of coffee.


Dar Kawa is right in the midst of the medina between the spice souks and Medersa Ben Youssef. It’s a wondeful location for those who want to walk straight out the front door into the maze of old Marrakech.

The Verdict?

Dar Kawa is ideal for those who seek a slow pace – linger over the scent of the orange trees in the courtyard, sink into the soft home-made linen and read a book from the haphazard piles around the riad. Design-lovers will enjoy each carefully curated detail of the guesthouse.

For more information visit:

To find more of Valérie Barkowski’s designs visit:

Kaat Benahid, Derb Ouali, 18 40000 Marrakech Médina

The writer was a guest of Dar Kawa. My opinion is, and will always be, my own. The Portmanteau Press only includes content that aligns with the aesthetic, standard and values of the brand.

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