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Le Jardin des Douars

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Going to marvelous Morocco? Try easy-breezy Essaouira on the windy coast southwest of Casablanca for a different take on Morocco. Exotically exciting Essaouira is one of the world’s top windsurfing and kite boarding spots as well as an old hippie-hangout. Here, the biscuit-colored beach is endless, the Medina is as teeming as it is magical and whitewashed houses with blue shutters, more Mykonos than Morocco, abound.

When the wind gets up (especially between March and September), escape to Le Jardin des Douars, sheltered from the high winds. Located in the heart of the Essaouira hills, about 15 minutes out of town (there’s a shuttle service from the Bab Marrakech), Le Jardin des Douars is a peaceful family-friendly hotel ideal for boutique hotels lovers and bohemian birds. The best part? Its terraced gardens filled with palm trees, exotic blooms, ponds & tropical plants; some say they are the best botanic gardens in Morocco. Overlooking the Ksob River, this hilltop kasbah-style stay features only 14 bedrooms, 2 jade-green heated pools (one for kids, one for adults), 2 dining rooms and a sensuous spa.

This Belgian-owned countryside hotel is an oasis of tranquility, bringing low-key luxury back to nature with its boho shabby chic interiors. In fact, this pretty pink palace is one of Essaouira’s best boutique hotels. Surrounded by gently undulating terracotta and mustard colored hills studded with Argan and Olive trees, Le Jardin des Douars feels like a secret Moroccan jewel with a French touch. Style-wise, think a riot of colors, Berber rugs, zellige tiles, wooden doors, hanging African masks and tadelakt walls.

A perfect balance between a happy family haven and love birds retreat, this luxe-for-less boutique stay offers both larger families rooms plus private villas and romantic couples cocoons. Ranging in size and style (there are 11 different room categories), the rooms are split between the main building and the grounds and some offer fireplaces, little terraces or balconies. For more seclusion book the Romantic Chamber where we stayed. The bed lies under a dome and its private terrace facing the adults-only infinity pool is quite big. Shrouded by palms and bougainvillea, Le Jardin’s rooms & suites are simple yet stylish with no phones, no TV’s and no minibars. It’s all about basic luxury here. Need to know: the wifi is not strong enough and not working everywhere. On the other hand, this is a good thing when you want to completely unplug & unwind.

Brimming with Moroccan charm, the main maison houses two different dining rooms, one with a lively family atmosphere and one intimate & richly decorated patio for couples. At Le Jardin des Douars hotel you spend most of the days lounging under a straw parasol by one of the pools, strolling in the lushly planted gardens or enjoying a traditional Moroccan Hamman treatment in the spa. In the evenings, sip an aperitif beneath the stars followed by chilling by the fireplace. Apart from Moroccan favorites, Le Jardin des Douars’ menu includes dishes like Shrimp tartar with mango, avocado and ginger as a starter and Beef wellington with herbs, mashed potatoes and béarnaise sauce, our favorite main course. Don’t skip the dessert: the Lemon and basil sorbet or Jojo’s semifreddo, praline, hazelnuts and chocolate are very tasty. Weekend barbecues attract food-lovers from miles around. What about breakfast? The Moroccan buffet breakfast is a mix of pancakes, breads, eggs, homemade jams, fresh fruit salads and juices, best enjoyed on Le Jardin des Douars’ sunny terrace.

Do you want to explore Essaouira’s Medina and eat there? For lunch go to the surfy spot Ocean Vagabond and for dinner try funky Elizir restaurant or One Up, the town’s answer to Soho House. Daredevil? Show off your kitesurf skills in front of Ocean Vagabond or rent a quad for a thrilling (yes, really thrilling!) tour on Essaouira’s long beach and through the sand dunes. Just try it and you’ll definitely come home with a suitcase full of memories.

NAME
Le Jardin des Douars hotel, Essaouira
PRICERANGE
LOCATION
RATING
8.8
LOCATION
9.1
SERVICE
8.8
VIBE
9
STYLE
8.6
ROOMS
8.5
FOOD & DRINK
8.8
FACILITIES
8.6