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Escape to Essaouira: Morocco’s hip town on the coast


You want that authentic Moroccan experience including the traditional Moroccan medina but you want it on a smaller scale, oh and you may also want a beach and port – try Essaouira.

This charming city is a wonderful alternative to Marrakech and with direct flights from London Luton and Paris Orly you’ll discover a whole new destination miles away from the crowds.

Essaouira is a dream destination and still relatively unknown as a winter sunshine spot. It has spectacular beaches, great azure sea and perfect conditions for water sports such as surfing and windsurfing, along with a cosmopolitan, developed UNESCO medina, making this a hot destination for winter breaks.

Essaouira is a port city and resort on Morocco’s Atlantic coast

The laid-back vibe of Essaouira with year-round sunshine, means a holiday here will tick all the boxes particularly for independent travellers who want to discover the real Morocco. With many new restaurants, shops and galleries rubbing shoulders with traditional traders, visitors are spoilt for choice.

Filled with history, arts and adventure, the medina in Essaouira is super-relaxed. The ‘fashionable’ places to visit include:

Mega Loft – Popular for its night-time live music, this restaurant is full of unique furniture pieces and local art.
Gipsy Surfer – A fashion and beach concept store offering surf boards, beachwear and fashion accessories.
Galerie Damgaard – Showcasing Essaouira’s artists since 1988, where visitors can buy pieces by local makers including those of Arab and Berbere cultures.
Ocean Vagabond Restaurant – A buzzy, beachside restaurant serving local Moroccan dishes.

Le Jardin des Douars offers a unique setting to explore the city

Essaouira’s sunshine and windy climate in the winter make it an ideal destination to enjoy surfing, wind surfing and kite surfing. Expect waves of between one and three metres. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Essaouira’s beach is Golf de Mogador. Designed by Gary Player, the newly launched 18- and 13- hole courses have been beautifully integrated into the natural landscape. Open daily, the two courses are ideal for professionals and beginners.

Made up of a series of traditional terracotta Moroccan countryside buildings, Le Jardin des Douars offers a unique setting. There are just 28 bedrooms, suites and luxury villas; all with their own outdoor space, making it a truly relaxing retreat. The hotel’s three dining areas have great views (you can also dine alfresco). Le Jardin des Douars also features a couples-only restaurant. Le Jardin des Douars has two outdoor heated pools overlooking stunning tropical planting.

Golf de Mogador was designed by Gary Player

Guests can also experience the hammam and spa, located in its own terracotta building surrounded by the botanical gardens. Open until 8pm daily this is the place to enjoy the traditional hammam ritual, with products containing organic Argan oil, sourced locally from the Sidi Yassine area. A selection of other spa treatments are also available including massages and facials. The spa also has its own boutique selling beauty products and fashion items by local designers.

In just over three hours, head to Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast.