My compulsion to escape the horror that is Christmas brought me once again to Essaouria, making this my 5th visit. Why do I keep returning? Essaouria has the right balance between relaxation - a long, part-duney beach; toasty winter sunshine; low-hassle-locals - and historic and cultural interest. After five visits the latter is allowed to take a back seat, or rather a sun lounger. Which is where I spent most of a cloud-free 2 week spell over Christmas and New Year. This sun lounger was situated on a lovely tiled terrace, at the top of a charming Riad, over looking the sea. I've stayed at a few Riads in the town by now, and this is one I would certainly recommend to anyone who wants to be looked after, but also left-alone to do your own thing. Riads, especially those close to the sea, can get very chilly at night, and feel very damp. Not this one. It's on the Eastern side, which is the driest, and whilst it has sea views, it's not so close to be damp. Another bonus (this will sound odd to anyone who hasn't had this happen to them), being a way back from the sea means fewer seagulls. The squawk of these beasts is one of the sounds of the town; preventing them dive bombing your breakfast to steal your bread or butter is one of the sports that usually grace terrace top dining of a morning. They are pretty brazen, so it's nice not to have to keep one eye on the skies while you tuck into the morning delights. Breakfast is not included at this riad, but there is a little kitchen where you can prepare coffee, and buying fresh bread every day became one of the rituals of riad living.
The riad has recently been converted from an old house, so is in very good decorative order. You're looked after by a lovely lady who cleans and smiles. There is even a small plunge pool attached to one of the apartments in a sweet palm-fringed garden, haunted by a family of tortoises. The riad is situated by a bustling area where the locals shop, but is tranquil once you shut the heavy door on the noise of the world outside. The sea is there to stare at during the day; the stars at night. Whilst it's usually too cold to sit out on the terrace in winter at riads closer to the sea, here you can. I was really impressed by the quality of the rooms for the money. It's a great place to stay for anyone's first trip to this amazing town.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Riad des Palmiers (so-called because there are 3 ancient palm trees in the garden) is situated in the medina, overlooking the beach. The house can be rented in its entirety, or by the apartment (of which there are 3 laid out over 3 floors). There is a large roof terrace on the top floor, and a beautiful garden with a 10 sq. metre plunge pool, very rare for Essaouira and the only one in the Medina. ... more less
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