The Best Hotels in Essaouira, Morocco, for Every Traveller

Le Jardin des Douars is perfect for a romantic or family-friendly getaway in Essaouira
Le Jardin des Douars is perfect for a romantic or family-friendly getaway in Essaouira | Courtesy of Le Jardin des Douars / Expedia
Photo of Alicia Miller
11 February 2021

The Atlantic coastal city of Essaouira is a sandy canvas punched with ocean-blue doors and shutters; it is a shopper’s city of bold, bright ceramics and rugs; rainbow spices at every turn in the markets you discover. Whether you want to relax or lose yourself in the thrum, somewhere to stay that’s comfy and easy on the eye is an essential part of the visit. And we know just where to stay in Essaouira.

With a name that means ‘beautifully designed’ in Moroccan Arabic, it’s no wonder that Essaouira has become an artistic hub. Built between wind, sand and sea, the walled city was designed in the 18th century by a French architect for King Mohammed III. Hints of foreign influence can still be seen today in its architecture and burgeoning art scene. Artists were drawn here by the fairytale fortifications, picturesque port and spice-scented streets, where Jimi Hendrix passed by in 1969 and hippies hung out in the 1970s. Nowadays, the city plays host to numerous music festivals and exhibitions.

Hotel Riad Villa Maroc

Independent Hotel
Map View
Hotel Riad Villa Maroc
Courtesy of Villa Maroc / Expedia
This elegant riad, a short walk from Essaouira’s beach, feels like a stylish secret. A teeny boutique sells locally made throw pillows; in the jewel-box spa, hammam sessions are followed by organic argan oil massages. The courtyard, dwarfed by a towering tree, is impressive, but it’s the rooftop terrace, where you’ll sip zingy morning OJ while gazing out to the ocean, that will capture your heart. It’s even family friendly, with some whitewashed rooms sleeping four.
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Madada Mogador

Luxury, Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel
Map View
Madada Mogador
Courtesy of Madada Mogador / Expedia
Flaky lobster-stuffed >pastilla< pie; fragrant tagine – La Table Madada is justifiably famous throughout Essaouira for its take on Moroccan-meets-European cuisine, served up in cosy contemporary settings. But its adjoining hotel rooms are just as lovely, tucked down a quiet street and dressed with creamy hued walls, warm tiled floors and crisp white sheets. Some rooms, opening right onto the city’s ramparts, come with private balconies overlooking the wind-ruffled waters.
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Dar les Sirenes

Independent Hotel
Map View
Dar les Sirenes
Courtesy of Dar les Sirènes / Expedia
Whether it’s the rich >msemen< pancakes, the flickering fireplaces in rooms or the moody lighting throughout, Dar les Sirenes is faithful to the traditional riad experience. But that doesn’t mean it’s not modern: architect Edoardo Miotti has blended contemporary stylings with characteristic Moroccan >tadelakt< plaster for a soothing, restorative feel. Have your morning coffee on the roof terrace before browsing for woven bags and vibrantly colored leather shoes in nearby shopping streets.
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Heure Bleue Palais

Luxury, Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel
Map View
Heure Bleue Palais
Courtesy of Heure Bleue Palais / Expedia
This is Essaouira’s grandest, most luxurious old-town hotel. The rooftop pool and bar lend a panoramic view of the city – dreamiest at sunset – while the ground-floor courtyard, flush with greenery, is soundtracked by a grand piano’s tinkling ivories. You need to have at least one meal in the restaurant – OTT-opulent with red tasselled chairs, candlelight and crisp tablecloths. The European-inflected cuisine, including John Dory with sesame chermoula, is some of the best in the city.
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Dar Liouba

Independent Hotel
Map View
Dar Liouba
Courtesy of Dar Liouba / Expedia
You’ll find this beauty down a squiggle of a laneway in Essaouira’s old heart. Dar Liouba’s owners, French couple Patricia and Jean-Jacques, love to share recommendations for their adopted home town, whether you’re after a brilliant meal or the best spot to buy local raffia handicrafts. The roof terrace is a perfect spot for a few lazy hours of sunbathing, while simple whitewashed bedrooms with colour pops combine elements of classic Moroccan and modern design – dreamy spaces to relax, and sleep, in.

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  • Jardin des Douars

    Hotel
    Map View
    20160127-dsc_3990-2_48711812431_o
    Courtesy of Jardin des Douars

    There’s a fine soporific feel to this verdant, rambling property just outside Essaouira: a retreat made for sundowners and siestas, with a fairytale, kasbah-esque main building as well as quirky bedrooms and suites. Some are gently treehouse-y, others like the attic den of your childhood. French-run Jardin des Douars, sure enough, is a hit with families; there’s a kids’ pool as well as a grown-up alternative with a bar. You dine in the atmospherically lit, tiered botanical garden (it’s more boisterous at breakfast time). Beyond the river running alongside, low hills bristle with argan trees, some providing the oil used in the spa. A regular shuttle bus runs to central Essaouira.

    Chill Art Hostel

    Hostel
    Map View
    Courtesy of Chill Art Hostel / Booking.com

    Chill Art, an 18th-century riad, was created by travellers for travellers, so you won’t find better backpacker vibes anywhere in town. Bought by a group of young Europeans in the 1970s, it opened as Essaouira’s first hostel, and is still a favourite among solo wanderers, with its vibrant murals, live-music nights and sociable communal areas. Share stories over free Moroccan tea during happy hour, have (healthy) dinners together and – maybe even – grab an instrument to join a late-night jam session. There’s a mix of shared dorms and private doubles; alternatively, an apartment with private terrace and kitchen, if you’d like a little privacy.

    Hôtel Gnaoua

    Hotel
    Map View
    Courtesy of Hôtel Gnaoua / Booking.com

    Tucked off one a main street in the medina, accessed via ways busy with carpet vendors, Hôtel Gnaoua is one of many reasonably priced hotels in Essaouira. It deserves flagging up for its central location and excellent free breakfast served on the sunny rooftop terrace. Fill up on eggs, msemen (Moroccan pancake), orange juice and coffee while watching the teeming street trade below. Just a few steps from this riad you’re plunged into a whirl of cafés and shops that’ll keep you captivated for hours. Back at the ranch, relax in bedrooms of Moroccan art and textiles: great value for money for this degree of privacy, with bathroom, and breakfast. The comfy beds guarantee deep sleep after demanding medina wanderings.

    Tangaro Hip Hotel and Spa

    Independent Hotel, Hotel
    Map View
    Courtesy of Tangaro Auberge and Spa / Hotels.com

    Hidden on a quiet hilltop just outside Essaouira, Tangaro is the perfect place for those who want to dip into the city and prioritise chill time. Winding stone paths lead through the calming cactus gardens to several whitewashed cottages, with a central courtyard shaded by a huge eucalyptus tree, where breakfast is served. Plan your day around dips in the pool, naps in the sun, long lunches in the poolside conservatory and watching the sunset from your private terrace. Guests can use the private hammam for free, while massages and yoga classes are available on request at the spa.

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    Salut Maroc!

    Hotel
    Map View
    Courtesy of Salut Maroc! / Hotels.com

    You’d be hard-pressed to find a more colourful hotel than Salut Maroc!. It’s located in the heart of the medina, and from the moment you walk through the door of this 18th-century riad, you’ll be wowed by the jaw-dropping clash of colours in a kaleidoscopic fusion of contemporary Moroccan design and traditional Islamic tile patterns, creating psychedelic mosaics from floor to ceiling in every room. The staff are as cheerful as the vibrant surroundings and the terrace restaurant offers a mix of fresh seafood from the market and traditional Moroccan dishes, served with a sea view. Indulge in a rejuvenating hammam treatment followed by a relaxing Moroccan massage and drift off into dreams full of the wildest colours.

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    Neil McQuillian and Lily Plume contributed additional reporting to this article.

    These recommendations were updated on February 11, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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