After an eventful week in Marrakech (see Les Jardins de la Medina) we arrived later than we expected in Essaouria on 21st Dec. There were bizarre road works on entering Essaouria and we wondered where we were going.
We arrived at Atlas Essaouira and low and behold we entered a magnificent space; marbled, airy and with larger than life statues of musicians and dancers and there’s piped jazz. Our luggage was whizzed efficiently to our room and there we were, with a view of the ocean and a large, airy room! The whole hotel has space and is airy, it must be great in the summer too.
We stayed for 3 weeks through Christmas and the New Year and we loved every minute of it!
Yes the pool is freezing (I swam in it, twice and I will be eligible for a free bus pass this year!). Some heating and a pool cover would be an idea, maybe?
Now I note that people moan about problems – all Moroccans speak French (and Arabic) – my French was a long time ago and it wasn’t my second language that was something else, so I really had to dredge it up. However we managed pretty well, some of the staff speak very good English amongst them Irina from Russia (Guest Relations) and Selim the F & B Manager and the wonderful Hamid, as well as other restaurant staff whose names we sadly don’t know.
The porters are a source of information and ‘out of the box thinking’, as in it was a porter who knew there was a camel market on a Sunday and it was a porter who helped us stick our stamps on our postcards when the adhesive appeared to have disappeared.
We discovered in Essaouira people are more laid back than in Marrakech and also that they understand that there is a cash shortage, because a) there are less tourists and b) the tourists they have, have less money.
Selim’s staff is a credit to him and the hotel, they are helpful to the extreme, not just to us, but we also saw them deeply concerned about one guest who was there just before we left. Nothing was too much trouble and even accommodating what may have seemed to Moroccans, my bizarre eating requests (I don’t eat meat), was possible. You only have to ask, you might need to ask twice or three times, but ask. I stay in many hotels over the course of a year mostly through work and in the UK believe me service can be dire (it’s rare though that I will write a bad review – sort it with the hotel).
Also some other English speakers in particular, please note; a smile, and the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in English, or French or Arabic go down really well. At Atlas and elsewhere in Essaouira and Morocco people work really hard, they work really long hours and generally work 6 days out of 7.
Now apart from the great room; the lovely people; the fantastic food (although 7.30 pm is for me too late for dinner); the neat beach [Le Seven] where security ensures no one hassles you for a camel ride; a hat, or whatever else they might be selling; the opportunity to have breakfast outside most days in December and January; the great courtyard and yes there was wifi which could be erratic at times; but then it is in other places. We were there for New Year.
Without a doubt New Year 2011 is only second to the birth of my first grandson. We were informed dinner would be an hour later than usual, it would be 6 courses and there would be entertainment. When we arrived downstairs, the whole interior of the hotel had been transformed so that you could only enter through a ‘tent entrance’ from the front of the hotel, tables were set and we were allocated a table with a young couple from the UK who had arrived the previous day and a guest from Spain. And the entertainment started, we had Gnaua musicians and dancers, a guy who span the tassel on his hat round at such a rate I became dizzy, and a belly dancer. The musicians played curious instruments such as a single string guitar and a bizarre contraption worn on the head, a cross between a brake drum and baking tin that was struck with two metal sticks (giving tin-it–us, sorry English pun, a new meaning), lots of clapping and foot stamping and shuffling. Two men, one covered in many shiny button type things that would put a pearly king to shame, but his clothing was black, appeared and span, and spouted, and ate fire, it was incredible (as were the antics of two security guys and the hotel staff who hearts in mouth must have hoped no one else caught fire!;)). There were snake charmers (I always wanted to see a snake charmer) and a fortune teller. All of this came before dinner and in between the courses. Everything was served with professionalism and attention and after counting down to 2012, we danced. The staff had been hard at work since early in the morning transforming the place which normally houses several very large couches. Some of them did not finish ‘til 3 am and there were up again the next day for 7 am, smiling and being professional. And the food was excellent, sadly dessert was just too much for me that night;(
It’s a great hotel, go there and enjoy it.
We recommend the econd floor with a view of the ocean!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.