Whether it’s Paris to Singapore or New York to Moscow, we’ve been there and done it! Ashley Boalch, Erin Lyons, Rachel Wang Pang, Tahera Zamanzada and their friends will recommend the best a city has to offer.
Essaouira, which means “the beautifully designed” is also affectionately nick named “The Windy City” (unlike Chicago, it’s called that for true strong winds, not hot air out of politicians’ mouths). A wind and kite surfers delight, this casual touristic town which sits on the Atlantic, miles from from bustling Marrakech, is known for its fish and seafood, the historic medina, traditional wood craftsmanship, carving and cabinet making, silver pieces and rugs made meticulously by Berbers, art galleries, exquisite pottery creations, and of course, music.
Who loves it:
We were fortunate to stay within one of the delightful riads, which are traditional Moroccan houses or palaces complete with an indoor garden. Our riad, Dar L’Oussia was conveniently located close to the beach and main road, just a skip away from the medina entrance. It was exceptionally clean, spotless even, with bright blue and white colors greeting us, reminding us of a ”beachy” feel. The rooftop served as a place to relax and absorb the sun’s rays while taking in extraordinary views of the ocean. The scene appeared old world Mediterranean, similar to a Greek isle. Breakfast, which was included, was served daily atop the roof with omelettes, French toast, ripe fruits, crepes, baked goods, fresh brewed coffee and squeezed juices.
Dar L’Oussia also offered in room wireless internet access, however, the higher you were (on the four floors of rooms and suites) the more spotty the service. Down in the atrium, the access was stronger. Also on the first floor was a tiny full service bar (constantly playing the World Cup), restaurant, and even spa. We had heard that our riad was one of the very best in the town. We were lucky that the manager we worked with knew some (I stress some) English.
Dar L’Oussia http://www.riad-darloussia.com/en 04, Rue Mohamed Ben Messaoud Essaouira 44000, Morocco +212 24783756
Best Spa or Salon:
Le Medina Essaouira Hotel Thalassa Sea & Spa
Formerly a Sofitel property, is luxurious entity which offers it’s guests a variety of specialized treatments from The Institute like a fitness center, beauty salon, tearoom to long stay treatment programs, designed for vitality, flexibility, overall wellness and much more. The scene is peaceful, with a dedicated staff – that often caters to the most royal of clients from all over the globe. Le Medina Essaouira Hotel Thalassa Sea & Spa http://www.accorhotels.com/le-medina-essaouira-hotel-thalassa-sea-spa-mgallery-collection Avenue Mohamed V, Essaouira 44000, Morocco +212 5244-79000
This is difficult because every meal I had was out of this world. Fresh, flavorful, well presented, healthy and memorable, my meals were just exquisite, and the service was filled with gratitude. The setting was often on rooftops, after all, this is a seaside town. From the dishes to flatware, to glasses, you would have thought you were sitting in a rustic version of Miami or Beverly Hills. One of my favorite meals though was a luncheon at Heure Bleue Palais‘ rooftop terrace. Our luncheon was complete with rose wine, olives, breads, salad, a fish dish, and delicate dessert with espresso. Heure Bleue Palais http://www.heure-bleue.com/en 2, rue Ibn Batouta Essaouira 44100, Morocco +212 24783434
The Souq or open marketplace. Bartering for the best of personally crafted and created wares is something that comes with the territory of Essaouira. I knew I would be departing with at least a Berber rug, jewelry, pottery, and scarves. My friend and I spent hours wandering and exploring the colorful markets taking in the spices, pottery, rugs, jewels, leathers (Morocco is fabulously famous for leather). We stopped at the site of eye catching popping colors hanging from the walls and trees, literally. The rugs of the Berber people are so stunningly beautiful, it’s impossible not to desire several of them, in all sizes. After bartering (with use of my friend’s iPhone) heavily, we both walked away with one of a kind rugs.
We left and wandered into the next shop, whose walls were lined with silver and metal crafts, jewelry, stones, paintings, and pottery. The ancient looking pieces were unusual. I picked up a few, letting the weight of them sit in my palm. After choosing a necklace strung with stones with a metal cross we talked with the shop owner, who showed off his hand made “guitar” instruments. Shopping for pottery was fun. Huge tagines with details etched carefully to plates in eye-popping prime colors, to softly shaded mini salt and pepper containers, pitchers, vases, whatever your home needed, this store could fulfill your desires. I even made out with 2 pair of leather sandals with I still love and have.
The scarves are amazing as embellished throw pillow covers. Anywhere in the souq, you can find gems, including unbelievable handmade jewelry.
Best Nightclub or Lounge:
Since we were there to for the Gnaoua Music Festival, a worldwide dance and music multi-stage/day/night production which draws 400,000 + visitors from around the world, our entire evening was spent wandering to the different stages, dancing and moving with the rest of the energized crowd.
I’d say walking along the water is the best neighborhood. The historic architecture, the seaside views, the locals offering oranges or Nutella crepes, make this a walkable, lovely experience.
Could you live there:
I would live there for a few months to GET AWAY – a personal sojourn spot. It’s so hard to get to and once there, you don’t want to leave. Orson Welles, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens are just a few of those who discovered the treasure of Essaouira.
It’s a French Arabic speaking town, so bring your globally working smartphone. Also, be very prepared for a long arduous painful trip to and fro (hence why you should stay a week or longer). They are six hours ahead, so just be ready for some jet lag, but here you will immediately be at peace. The wines are great if you love wine. Eat tons of the tartines, my favorite dishes. The local food is out of this world. And yes, cover your shoulders and dress “appropriately” – no short shorts or heels. Think walking in a warm environment and you should be respectful of the traditional dress.
Let us know what you think!
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