700km south of Tangier, Essaouira is Morocco’s prime coastal resort, a charming UNESCO fortress city on the Atlantic seaboard and a beautiful destination for winding down at the end of the trip.
Set within the natural bay sheltered by the Purpuraires Islets just off the coast, its history is 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 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 heading to the centre, and you can explore its dramatic ramparts, winding alleys and souks. Although international travellers have long replaced the original hippies who pioneered it as a resort, its easy-going nature lives on in marked contrast to the frenetic energy of Fes or Marrakech.
Essaouira – Luxury Collection
Heure Bleue Palais$$$$$
Heure Bleue Palais has succeeded in preserving the character of a traditional Moroccan house and the hospitality cherished by this country. At the crossroads of African, Moorish, Portuguese, English and oriental influences, the rooms and suites are located around the patio, where a fountain sings and the heart of the Riad beats. The traditional Hamman is the perfect place to relax, the panoramic outdoor pool on the terrace overlooks the medina and the ocean, and the cuisine is a subtle blend ...
Le Medina Essaouira Thalassa Sea & Spa$$$$
Once owned by a Souira merchant, the original house has been given a complete contemporary make-over and oozes a sense of relaxed sophistication. Intricate mosaics have been replaced by soft shades of ochre and beige sandstone while traditional Moroccan cornices and lanterns combine with modern art and chic furniture. The six individual guestrooms are stylishly dressed in subtle tones and feature high ceilings. Pacha and Salma rooms face the ocean and benefit from direct access to the roof-to...
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