Exotic Essaouira – Morocco’s laid-back year-round destination
3 Mar 2016
Le Jardin des Douars is Essaouira’s leading hotel: charming and unstuffy, located in the hills, surrounded by nature, ideal for couples and families
Essaouira is the perfect year-round sunshine destination, ideal for the independently minded who can combine coast, hills and a UNESCO World Heritage medina. The laid-back vibe across this small city is felt everywhere. Visitors can stroll from the beach where water sports, wind sports and camel riding take place and walk to the medina, a creative laid-back art-filled area where local artists and craftsmen and women create authentic Moroccan pieces. Whether on the coast or in the medina, visitors won’t go hungry, seafood is excellent here and available at every turn. The whole of Essaouira seduces visitors with a unique cosmopolitan charm complete with magical sunsets.
Le Jardin des Douars is the ultimate independent hotel or ksar (palace) to stay at, combining extensive outdoor space and facilities with secluded accommodation across bedrooms, suites and villas, most with their own terraces, gardens or pools. Le Jardin des Douars features two outdoor heated swimming pools (one for adults only, the infinity pool and one for families) and two indoor restaurants (again, one for adults only and the other for families). In addition, an outdoor restaurant is open for lunch daily and for dinner on the warmer evenings, whilst a hammam and spa offers traditional hammam treatments and massages. The backdrop to this setting is an immense botanical garden with a wide range of tropical trees, plants and flowers.
If guests can draw themselves away from Le Jardin des Douars, then in just 10 minutes on the shuttle service provided by the hotel, guests can immerse themselves in a whole range of activities. Essaouira celebrates a rich cultural mix with Arab, Berber, Gnawa and European influences from present and past. These influences can be felt throughout the coast, in the hills or in the medina. Le Jardin des Douars can organise guides or set up activities including:
Coastal: Surfing, Windsurfing, Kite surfing and camel riding on the beach along with strolls by the sea on the sand. Golf is also available with coastal views and is increasingly popular
Hills: Argan trees are from this part of the world and argan oil is the new gold in the beauty and food worlds. Take a tour of the countryside to discover the greener parts of Essaouira and look out for goats climbing trees
Medina: The walled medina is possibly one of Morocco’s more relaxed and an artists’ hub with many galleries selling works by local Moroccan painters. Guests will also find woodcarving workshops, jewellery shops in the designated souk, clothes and plenty of spices in the spice souq. New trendy restaurants sit alongside traditional fish grill stands
Back at Le Jardin des Douars, guests are encouraged to simply relax both mind and body. There are no televisions or telephones in the rooms and no room service offered. Guests are invited to make use of the spacious outdoor and indoor surroundings. Even though there are only 28 rooms including three villas, there is plenty of space to sit either by the pool, or on the terrace or around the botanical gardens. Indoors, the restaurant and bar area allows guests to spread out on comfy sofas. The spa and hammam which is open until 8pm daily is the place to enjoy the traditional hammam ritual, with products containing Argan oil.
Breakfast is served daily until 10.30am in the main restaurant (Le Ksar) or alternatively it can be taken on the terrace of the rooms. Lunch is an outdoor affair on the terrace with the backdrop of Moroccan sounds and daily changing specials. Guests are encouraged to meet at the bar at 19.00 to share a cocktail before dinner. Dinner is then served in either Le Ksar or in the more intimate adults only La Table des Douars. The menu is a real fusion of Moroccan, North African and French flavours. A daily seasonal menu is also offered using local, organic produce.
All guests are given a ‘Carnet de Voyage’ as they arrive at Le Jardin des Douras. This booklet showcases Essaouira and Le Jardin des Douars, highlighting experiences around both the city and hotel.
Essaouira still feels relatively undiscovered. Its laid-back vibe makes a holiday here an enjoyable experience, at any time of the year, either with a partner, friends or as a family.
B&B priced from around £90 per room, per night
easyJet fly between London Luton and Essaouira twice per week on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
Essaouira airport is located 15 minutes from Le Jardin des Douars and a shuttle service is available.
Marrakech is about two hours from Essaouira by coach or car. Marrakech is served by several daily flights from across the UK.