We had a wonderful time in Essaouira; the house was ideal, the town magical and the weather sensational! We were very lucky with the daily 30 degree weather and clear blue skies.
The house itself has 3 double bedrooms and a twin room, making it a perfect holiday rental for either a family or a group of friends. We booked it for my 30 birthday along with 6 other friends and I would highly recommend it as a place to celebrate a special event to any traveller!
We arranged home cooked dinners with Khadija, the housekeeper, for a few of the nights during our stay, which really took the stress out of the evenings. For just £5 per person you will dine on some of the best food you'll have in Essaouira. We especially loved the chicken, onions and raison tagine, the fish tagine and of course the lamb couscous. Superb! But if you'd rather eat our there are many restaurants along the way into the town that you can choose from. I highly recommend Chez les Freres, an unassuming family owned establishment just around the corner from the riad. It's a left turn opposite a rug stall. You'll know you've found it when you are greeted outside by a large smiling man who is eagerly describing his menu! The seafood pastilla is simply delicious and they also have a bring your own booze policy! If you want to spend a bit more then make your way to the Terrace bar near the fish market. It is the only major terrace restaurant that offers alcoholic drinks and a great menu while, surrounded by lanterns, you overlook the ocean, fish market and town.
We arranged breakfast each morning at the riad; a feast of freshly squeezed orange juice, omelettes, boiled eggs, yoghurts, pastries, fresh bread, coffee and tea (for just over £2 per person an absolute must!). You can also ask Fouad to translate your meal requests for breakfast to Khadija if you'd prefer a different tea/eggs/etc. Khadija only speaks Arabic, but Fouad's English is very good as well as his French so you'll be in good hands!
Upstairs you have a choice of three terraces; the first is at roof level, beautifully sheltered from the sea breeze, while the second is a slightly raised balcony and the third (the highest of the three) is a balcony with an uninterrupted view of the ocean and the rooftops across Essaouira (the railings could do with a new lick of paint)! The perfect setting for an afternoon bathing in the sun or for an evening drink watching the sunset. We were very lucky with the weather and didn't have much wind as is usually expected in Essaouira, but if the weather does take a turn you can retire to the cosy hub underneath the first level balcony, which is decked out with cushions, a low coffee table and lanterns. Make sure you buy some candles at the shops before hand though as we could only find one candle amongst the lanterns to burn on the first night. Maybe this is something the owners could look into? Providing some candles to set the mood?
Make sure you visit the fish market along the promenade. You can negotiate an excellent deal on a fish platter, which can feed a small army for around £4 per person. The best value seafood banquet you will ever have! King crab, prawns, langoustines, snapper, sardines, squid, John Dory to name but a few! We paid 480 dirims for 8 people to have every type of fish and crustacean the sea had to offer including cold drinks, salad and bread!
If you want to treat yourself go to the Azur Spa for a traditional hammam or try something a little more extravagant and have an argan oil and salt scrub topped off with a soak in a bath of milk, honey and rose petals. Still only a fraction of the price a spa would cost in the UK or France. The interior of the spa itself is done out in black marble with fragrances of orange blossom and jasmine filtering through the air. Worth ever penny!
When it comes to purchasing goods in the town, do your research before buying. Some sell the same thing for varying prices. The stall owners are prepared to negotiate a deal for their wears, but it is NOT like Marrakech where you can get everything for a 3rd of the asking price. Their prices are already cheaper than those in Marrakech and so they are only prepared to drop their prices by a reasonable percentage. If you really want something, get it! I am still regretting not buying a few things I had my eye on...
It's definitely worth visiting the view point from the ramparts, the walls of the town. The view is gorgeous and is literally around the corner from the riad. Make your way to the other end of the walls where the fishermen sell their fresh catch, quite the experience to witness, probably the largest eels we've every seen!
Thank you for a great holiday! Please send our thanks to Khadija and Fouad; the food she cooked was absolutely delicious, they were both just fantastic and so attentive throughout our stay! We will certainly be back soon.
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Enjoy the sunset from the roof with a bottle of wine from the shop outside the Bab Doukkala. We loved being cosy by the fire in the evenings with gentle African music we found in the CD player. Very nice holiday. Oh and the north beach is not easy to get to but well worth the trip!
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