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700km south of Tangiers, Essaouira is Morocco’s prime coastal resort, a charming UNESCO fortress city on the Atlantic sea-board and a wonderful destination for winding down at the end of the trip. Set within the  a natural bay sheltered by the Purpuraires Islets just of the coast, its history can be traced back to pre- Roman times as a trading post for Tyrian Purple dye, a colour so favoured by the emperors. In 1510, an early fortress was built under the Portuguese king Manuel I yet modern Essaouira owes itself to Mohammed III. For 12 years from 1760, the sultan directed French engineer, Théodore Cornut to reshape it along modern lines and so create a cosmopolitan port that opened up sub-Saharan trade to the outside world. Today, its long open beach attracts wind- and kite-surfers alike while head to the centre and you can explore its dramatic ramparts, winding alleys and souks. Although the original hippies who pioneered it as a resort have long been replaced by international travellers, its easy-going nature lives on in marked contrast to the frenetic energy of Fes or Marrakech.

Essaouira Hotels

$$$ Madada Mogador Essaouira

Squeezed between the ancient medina and Essaouira’s rampart walls, Madada Mogador is a chic boutique hotel with captivating views out towards the Atlantic. Once owned by a Souira merchant, the...

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$$$$ Heure Bleue Palais Essaouira

Historic Hotel

Just a short stroll from the bustling medina, the Heure Bleu Palais is a sumptuous, luxury hotel and retreat snuggled up against the old rampart walls.  Rescued from the shell of 19th century...

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$$$ Villa de L'O Essaouira

Character Boutique

Just metres from the beach and the surrounding souks, the Villa de l’Ô is a charming boutique hotel and once almond storage depot within the Essaouira’s historic medina. Pass through the heavy-beamed...

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$$$ Dar Loulema Essaouira

Dar Loulema is a small, charming guesthouse within a prime location close to the heart of Essaouira. It is perched just behind the rampart walls within the medina overlooking Moulay Hassan Square...

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