Here at House of Coco, we’re all about authentic experiences – and it doesn’t hurt when they’re coupled with a hint of luxury either. So when we saw Scarabeo’s Desert Stone Camp – a chic, glamping spot in the depths of the Moroccan desert all over our Instagram, we knew we had to experience it for ourselves. We sent our girl Beth to check it out.
Stepping out into Morocco’s Agafay Desert, the first thing to strike us is the sheer size of it all. Stoney ochre hills roll out into nothingness. Sun-scorched earth turns to burnt sienna as it stretches towards the horizon, where the tips of the Atlas Mountains lie hazy in the midday heat. Although we’re just 45 minutes outside of Marrakech, the only thing to interrupt this emptiness is a handful of white bedouin tents stark against the scenery – our home for the night.
If you can call these tents, that is. They’re more like luxury hotel rooms whose walls just happen to be canvas. High ceilings create a sense of space while a warm golden light illuminates the interior. A huge double bed is piled high with tasselled cushions and Moroccan blankets, with a wood burning fire to keep us warm in the dark desert night. Vintage globes, antique suitcases and Berber rugs are just some of the detailed decor that makes for an irresistible old-school safari vibe. Separated by a tent flap, another smaller room holds a full shower, sink and self-flushing toilet (this is glamping, after all). Each tent also has its own terrace – a table and chairs slung beneath a shaded canopy – our favourite spot to sit back and soak up the vastness of the landscape.
While the desert here may be desolate, there’s more than enough activities on offer to indulge your inner Lawrence of Arabia. Throw on a kaftan and head out into the wilds on a camel trek, horse or even a quad bike. There’s even a spa menu so you can have an argan oil massage or bergamot body scrub in this spectacular setting.
But you’ll have to wait for after dark for the real magic. Huddled around the campfire with a glass of wine, we watch as a pink dusk creeps over the camp. As the sun sets, the stars start to pop out of the sky – until the inky desert night envelops us under a blanket of stars. Turning around, we find the whole camp has been lit by iron-lanterns, flames dancing in the dark to guide us back to our tent.
Come dinnertime, we’re ushered into the main tent – a larger version of our rooms with open sides and carefully chosen antiques, dark wood furniture and time-worn books to complete the vintage explorer vibe. Lit by a candelabra, we’re served course after course of Moroccan classics – little sharing dips and a delicious chicken and vegetable tagine. Heading back to the campfire, we forgo Scarabeo’s professional astronomer in favour of trying to spot shooting stars on our own. Even with a full moon, we can still see the clusters of the Milky Way gathering overhead. Sharing the camp with only a handful of other guests, we feel like old-world explorers on some desert expedition.
Retreating to our room, we do a quick check of any lingering creepy crawlies (the camp isn’t named after the black Scarab beetle for nothing) before falling into the deepest sleep, with only the crackling of our log fire and a few creaking crickets to disturb us.
Waking to dawn spilling into the tent, we spend the morning lazing on the porch in our pyjamas, just taking in the stillness, the silence. While we could stare for hours at the size of that horizon, after a quick breakfast of Moroccan eggs, fried flatbread and almond dips, we’re due to leave – this dreamy camp disappearing from us like a desert mirage.
Scarabeo’s Stone Camp might not be for everyone – you’ll need to be ok with no wifi, and a few admittedly sizable but harmless bugs that may make their way into your tent. But if, like #TeamCoco, your idea of luxury is to disconnect from daily life and experience some serious desert escapism first hand – Scarabeo more than lives up to its Insta-reputation in our book.