Secret Villa, Zaouiet Ben Sassi, Marrakech


We're staying outside Marrakech in an architect's former residence near La Palmeraie. Quiet and secluded, the home is constructed entirely of earthen and reclaimed materials, with built-in furniture accented by the current owners' collection of Berber textiles, furnishings, and art. It was cleverly designed around native cacti and a permaculture farm, looking out onto mountains, palm fields, and the minaret of a local mosque. The cool stone walls and tile floors need no air conditioning or heating- the owner holds weddings, anniversary parties, and traditional Moroccan feasts here, turning the pool into a buffet area and seating guests on the roof.


Marrakech is not what I pictured, but I feel at home, like we've lived here awhile now. The countryside and cats and blooming cacti and goats running around and children playing happily in the street past midnight make me smile. Retreating to a minimalist villa in the middle of nowhere makes it that much more enjoyable.


Every morning, I have goji berries, oranges, and almonds with mint tea on the daybeds. At night, we eat market vegetables in the rooftop dining room as lanterns twinkle against the High Atlas. We packed one small carry-on for two people, but we didn't need it all.


Here's my travel wardrobe and toiletry list:

Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe- Marrakech

  1. Two dresses- one linen, one cotton
  2. Two linen t-shirts
  3. One cotton cardigan
  4. Two scarves- one linen, one silk (to tie in my hair), gifts from my husband and father-in-law
  5. One pair of jeans
  6. One pair dressy sandals and one pair secondhand flip-flops
  7. Bikini
  8. Sunglasses (similar here)

Packing List: Toiletries and Cosmetics

  1. Wooden and natural rubber brush
  2. Alep soap
  3. Bamboo toothbrush
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Hand-knitted hemp washcloths
  6. Safety razor


I wanted to travel without buying anything new. My sleeveless dresses fall past my knees, so I use the linen scarf and cardigan to hide my shoulders and collarbone. It's not necessary to cover your head or ankles, and these days, native Moroccans wear crop tops and short shorts- still, it's respectful to stay covered, except in the villa, where we're totally alone. I've only worn the linen dress so far; if I don't use the red one this summer, I'll refashion or sell it.

Before visiting, I read on TripAdvisor that streets were dirty and badly paved. Streets are worse in Paris and Cleveland. I walked around and climbed Toubkal in flip-flops. Lots of Moroccan women wear high heels- we even saw one lady hiking a waterfall in studded wedges!

Security at Orly was kind of a joke. I took my razor blade through, though I wouldn't recommend it- sugar waxing, either at home or Charme d'Orient (Paris' most zero-waste spa), is probably your best bet. My Moroccan friends warned me to be careful with cross-contamination- even inherently gluten-free foods, like vegetable tagines, are cooked in porous dishes that may have held couscous. Anticipating this, I packed a big bag of blood oranges, nuts, dried fruits, and apples to snack on. Our Berber neighbor never saw blood oranges or goji berries before, so I offered her some, but she didn't like the taste :) I promise to catch up on posts this week, including where to stay, eat, and visit in Marrakech! This post contains Shopstyle affiliate links. If you click on them, I make a commission. Thanks for your continuing support!

Paris to Go


  1. I researched Rimowa suitcases and couldn't find one that was the appropriate size for a carry on. May I ask the measurements (or product number) of yours? Mar. Looks GORGEOUS!

    1. Hi Darcy! It's this one:

      Well, it might not be exactly the same one. It's really old, and maybe they changed the dimensions at some point. But it fits in an overhead bin and the bins outside they measure with. We've even taken it on low-cost carriers with no problems!

  2. Two posts in a day ! The place looks gorgeous. I think every one needs a minimalist retreat to remind us how happy we can be without all the grubs.

    I am going backpacking in the backcountry soon. My annual civilization detox.

    - Archana.

    1. I can't wait to see your beautiful pictures on your blog! How do you feel after you do a detox? I imagine you feel refreshed and recharged. Myself, I'm kind of a hermit anyway so this was right up my alley :)

  3. Love that post, especially your minimalist travel's wardrobe. I'm considering giving up toothpaste, and as i dont see any, i was wondering if y ou use soap instead or just brushing ?

    1. Yes I use the Alep soap on the toothbrush. It doesn't taste bad and foams up very nicely. Good for breath and my dentist says it's healthy because it's antibacterial :) At home I use baking soda instead of toothpaste, as well. Thank you Adeline! Sorry the posts are formatted weird right now. I'm trying to change the blog template and I'm messing things up :(

    2. Thank y ou for your answer !

  4. Hi, dear!
    I constantly live i Morocco and are about to come to Marrakesh for a short vacation, please if you have any contacts of the host of this beautiful villa, share them! By the way, how did you find zero waste lifestyle here in Morocco, because I am trying to apply it step by step and oooh, it's hard! Thanks so much for your posts.