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Riad Dar Maya

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Clinging to Morocco’s Atlantic coast, enticing Essaouira proves there’s more to Morocco than Marrakech. Blissfully laidback and surprisingly cosmopolitan, Essaouira is a perfect retreat, especially for surfers, but also for those wishing to enjoy the wonders of Morocco at a relaxed pace.

No idea where to stay in the Moroccan beach town of Esssaouira? Don’t bother with the big five-star hotels here: they’re better in Marrakech and, besides, the smaller places better capture the town’s bohemian charm. Hidden in the heart of Essaouira’s Unesco-listed Medina, Dar Maya is ideal for those looking for a contemporary, boutique-luxe riad in Essaouira. For the uninitiated, riads (or dars in their smaller form) are traditional Moroccan houses set around a central courtyard.

Surrounded by narrow lanes, carved Moorish archways and white cubic buildings with blue doors & windows, Riad Dar Maya is a few minutes’ walk to all the main attractions and amenities of Essaouira including the bustling cafes & restaurants, souks, port and sweeping beach.

English expat Gareth Turpin has turned a bright, breezy townhouse into a modern Moroccan maison with graceful arches. It’s reassuringly relaxed with plenty of chill-out zones and Dar Maya’s décor of funky furniture and Moroccan crafts is worth an Instagram shot or three. Without a doubt, Riad Dar Maya is one of the best boutique hotels in the tiny seaside village of Essaouira. Furthermore, it’s also one of Essaouira’s most personal stays – there are only five rooms and Gareth and his team are eager to please. Facilities include a small spa complete with traditional hammam plus treatment room and a heated rooftop hot tub featuring views of the town’s gleaming white Minarets and the Atlantic ocean.

Your room? Oozing Moroccan sophistication, the 5 rooms at this designer dar in Essaouira’s historic Medina are surprisingly large and use a subtle color palette of chocolate, coffee & champagne that is both luxurious yet calming. All the rooms have walls of sleek Moroccan tadelakt and bathrooms featuring deep tubs and underfloor heating. Added bonus: real wood fireplaces to keep you warm during colder evenings. Three of the handsome rooms have their own Art Deco inspired balconies and two-person bathtubs.

Start your day with breakfast, served on the sunny rooftop terrace, in the patio or anywhere you like, followed by a hammam treatment, an unmissable experience in Morocco. Afterwards, dive down shady streets and discover Essaouira’s old thriving town with its galleries, smart boutiques and cafes. Once back inside, sip rooftop cocktails and feast on Moroccan food – Moroccan three course menus are available which you have to reserve in advance. Gareth can also arrange cooking classes on request.

NAME
Riad Dar Maya, Essaouira
PRICERANGE
LOCATION
RATING
8.8
LOCATION
9.2
SERVICE
8.8
VIBE
9
STYLE
9
ROOMS
8.8
FOOD & DRINK
8.5
FACILITIES
8.2