Essaouira is a free-spirited destination like nowhere else in Morocco and the Jardin des Douars, the leading independent hotel, is totally unique. Despite the fact that Essaouira officially has around 320 days of sunshine per year, it remains relatively crowd free, so visitors can get to experience a quiet beach, a manageable and enjoyable medina and combine a coastal and city vibe without the hassle.
The drive to the hotel is short, just 15 minutes or so from the airport, and takes you through the countryside. Even before we arrived at our accommodation, we felt like a weight had been lifted.
Le Jardin des Douars, is a family-run hotel and offers luxurious yet affordable accommodation nestled in the heart of the Essaouira hills. Located inside a botanical garden, the hotel overlooks the Ksob River with views of the argan-studded hills. The grounds around the hotel are beautiful and peaceful. This is what makes it a real gem and a place where you do not feel overrun. I’d suggest a stroll around the hotel to enjoy a wonderful selection of Moroccan Berber art; while away time in the lush gardens where you can enjoy many varieties of tropical trees and plants, and keep an eye out for the resident peacocks, last seen gliding past the infinity pool.
There are 19 bedrooms and six suites in total with five luxury villas (two recently launched), with their own heated swimming pools. We arrived in the evening at our two-bedroom suite to a roaring fire and a tray served up with warm sweet Moroccan mint tea and home made biscuits, ordered on arrival of course, priorities! The rooms are filled with trinkets and treasures that the owners and staff have selected from the local area and are decorated in earthy colours, with drops of Argan and African prints and colours from deep reds, teracotta’s to warming oranges and cool sands. There is an abundance of local beauty and bathroom products provided to use and slippers and robes are ready for you to slip into something more comfortable.
As I sat sipping my mint tea in front of the roaring fireplace that first evening, I could see for myself why this is the most raved about independent hotel in Essaouira.
Every day before breakfast we enjoyed a swim in the heated outdoor infinity pool. With a quiet zone for adults, it's the perfect spot to relax with a drink from the poolside bar soaking up the sun and enjoying the peaceful setting. Those with families can also enjoy pool-time fun, thanks to the family pool with a wading section, located nearby. All towels are provided, so the only thing you need to focus on is relaxing.
There are three dining areas to choose from, a big open plan restaurant, a couples’ dining room and al fresco dining on the terrace. We made the most of one of two sunny days we had and enjoyed an al fresco lunch of fresh catch of the day and a home made burger on the patio. Washed down with a deliciously crisp white and rosé wine.
From the Royal breakfast to dinner, the hotel serves up delicious cuisine with foods sourced from the local area. These guys definitely know how to create dishes that are both complimentary and extremely fresh and delicious. The menu is al la carté and offers light balanced healthy food with daily specials and suggestions on the blackboard. One evening when the weather was whipping up a storm outside we enjoyed an aperitif on the sunken sofas in front of the roaring fire in the great hearth. Divine.
Essaouira is well located for a food adventure in Morocco. Visitors can try Atlantic catches at the fish souk whilst also sampling traditional Moroccan tajines across this cosmopolitan city. The medina includes traditional and new dining ventures, showcasing both the city's location by the sea and the country's freshest produce at local markets. Restaurateurs head to the port each day to get fresh fish.
The region is best known for its art, is a cosmopolitan medina and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The local souks and medina are the main attraction, not to mention the lovely boutique shopping – be sure to haggle for those leather, silver and home goods. Enjoy other activities from water sports, horseriding to camel rides and surfing. As the artistic capital of Morroco there is an abundance of cultural attractions. Enjoy art from the Arab and Berbers cultures at The Galerie Damgaard, L'atelier des Arts Empreinte and the Elizir Gallery and the Galerie l'Arbre Bleu.
The verdict – Le Jardin des Douars is a little piece of paradise. A beautifully peaceful and charming hotel for single travellers, couples and families alike.
B&B priced from around £115 per room, per night or £500 per villa, per night.
Travel Information: Ryanair flys between London Stansted and Essaouira twice per week on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Essaouira airport is located 15 minutes from Le Jardin des Douars and a shuttle service is available. Marrakech is about three hours away.
Le Jardin des Douars
Douar Sidi Yassine, BP209 44000
A summary of our stay at Le Jardin des Douars
Best bits: Sitting on the terrace in the botanical garden enjoying a glass of chilled rose wine whilst savouring the fresh catch of the day, supping up the Morrocan sun.
Worst bits: Having to leave the warm marble beds of the Hamman and walk back to my suite after being treated like a queen, such a pleasurable and relaxing experience.
*During my stay I was hosted by the lovely team at Le Jardin des Douars. All opinions are my own.
Our experience overall
Food and drink: ★★★★★
Staff attentiveness/friendliness: ★★★★★