Jardin des Douars, Essaouira

Paradise found

Morocco could just be your new favourite year-round destination, as Liz Granirer reports from its sunny Atlantic coast.

What’s your idea of heaven? Maybe a lush garden, filled with flowering bushes and vines, all tumbling together to create walls of colour in every direction? Would it include smiling, soft-footed servers asking what you would like next in terms of refreshment, as you lie in the sun by a green-tiled pool, the only noise the birds calling to each other and an occasional ruffling breeze?

Le Jardin des Douars If so, then you’ll find it at le Jardin des Douars, a 15-minute shuttle drive from the ancient seaport town of Essaouira, about halfway down on Morocco’s Atlantic coast.

There’s more to make you smile here, as you walk along the terracotta-tiled paths which lead to various pleasant prospects. There’s the spa, where treatments include hammam, massages, hot stones, facials, mani/pedis and more. There’s reception, where fresh towels and wifi codes can be collected, and shuttles or taxis arranged. Or, if you have any other questions (can a day trip to Marrakech be arranged? Will they mail your postcards? Where’s the best place to eat in town? Or maybe you’d just like a chat – the lovely receptionist, Esme, speaks at least English, French and Arabic and, we guess, German as well. Or you might like to wander to the main house, where you can have a drink or snack on the terrace whenever, or take breakfast, lunch or dinner with generous timings (breakfast, for instance, is served until 10.30).

Le Jardin des Douars Inside, it’s all open courtyards with trickling streams or lush gardens, wine-stain-red walls, big terracotta pots, rugs and cushions, candles and ceramic sinks, antique furniture and art on the walls. It’s all very bohemian looking but, also, very luxurious. This country, you understand immediately, is where the hippies took their design notes from. It’s also not even a little surprising to learn that Jimi Hendrix allegedly spent three formative days in Essaouira in 1969, no doubt soaking up the general feel-good vibe – and, according to legend, being inspired to write his song Castles Made of Sand when he gazed upon Castle Rock in nearby Mogador Bay.

When you’re ready to do more than lie about enjoying the Eden that is le Jardin des Douars, you can play golf at Morocco’s best course, just five minutes’ drive away or, if you’re feeling really energetic, you could learn to kite-surf, surf, SUP or windsurf on the 11km-long sandy Mogador Bay,  which you reach just before the town of Essaouira. Sound like too much effort? Why not go for a camel or horse ride on the beach instead? Sunset makes the perfect backdrop to this activity.

Le Jardin des Douars - bedroom exterior You’ll certainly want to explore Essaouira. It’s recently been given a boost of money from the government, who are keen to exploit its tourism potential and, to this end, a promenade along the seafront is being built (though the sand is doing a good job of reclaiming it!). While it feels perfectly comfortable to walk around, this isn’t a place that seems much affected by its visitors. The medina, surrounded by 18th-century ramparts, carries on day and night much as, one suspects, it has for generations. The fish market, with its small and large sellers and intense aromas, makes a fascinating visit, though don’t expect to be given much attention – everyone’s too busy salting their catch, laying it out, hoping for a sale.

Le Jardin des Douars - suite lounge There is a main drag, if you like, through the medina, lined with shops all selling similar ware – vibrantly coloured cushion covers, handmade shoes, wooden boxes and trays, silver jewellery and leather goods – and plenty of restaurants to choose from, but do veer off from the well-trodden path to check out the less-seen side, where time seems to have frozen circa maybe 1890 and goods are piled high or sold from vendors who only have a little of whatever they are selling, but clearly need to make that sale. Perhaps surprisingly, there is no hassle away from the main streets, no approaches from unsolicited stallholders. They no doubt know you won’t be buying their second-hand flip-flops, but it’s a fascinating peek into parallel lives.

Finally, there is another, arty side of Essaouira – check the local free newspaper you can pick up in le Jardin des Douars reception to find out what local exhibitions are on or if there’s a concert or music festival coinciding with your visit. And, when the hustle and bustle of Essaouira get too much, simply retire to your very own paradise just outside of town.

Rooms at le Jardins des Doaurs start at £110 per night, including breakfast. For more information or to book, visit www.jardindesdouars.com or tel  00 212 5 2447 4003.

118 people found this helpful
18464

Share Article:

Liz Granirer

Freelance journalist

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Mark Nicholls visits Austria’s snowiest ski resort and stumbles across a chapter of pop history….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.