We actually booked or thought we had booked Riad Nakhla as recommended as the author's choice in the Lonely Planet. We even spoke to the owner and confirmed our reservation again by telephone on the morning we were arriving in Essaouira. We arrived at Riad Nakhla only to be told we were staying somewhere else and a man came and took us to Dar Marhaba! First of all, if your hotel is overbooked please tell your guests so they can decide for themselves what to do next, don't get greedy and show them your friend's place! I advise all people thinking of staying at Riad Nakhla to be aware that your booking may not be honoured!
Luckily Dar Marhaba was just off the main thoroughfare down the alley from Bob Music. It seemed very beautifully decorated and the same price as Nakhla so we took a room.
We went off to explore but returned in the evening to find that a) the toilets were not flushing b) hot water was not running and c) the rooms were freezing cold and there were no heaters! We did find a someone who told us he was security and he was very apologetic and brought us blankets for the night and explainmed at times water didnt run in the medina. We did have a good nights sleep and sure enough water was running by morning. Next we encountered the moody young housekeeper. Breakfast was not great. Oily msammen (like chappati) and bitter coffee. She urged us to visit the hammam where she worked but we didnt have time and the next morning when she saw us she looked angry and asked us why we didnt go to her hammam. She also never smiled at my (white, male) partner and he took great offence at this as he felt she was doing this deliberately. On our final evening we saw a radiator in one of the corridors (we figured a leaving guest must have had it and took it out of the room when they were done) and took it in our room. Its a shame that such a pretty place to stay is lacking so badly in customer service.
With hindsight had we known we would not get a room at Riad Nakhla we may have gone to a completely different place to stay altogether.