Le Jardin des Douars, Essaouira review: a glorious hit of serenity in Morocco

Nestled in the hills on the outskirts of Essaouira – a buzzy port town in western Morocco – sits luxury boutique hotel Le Jardin des Douars. The hotel is around 15 minutes’ drive away from Essaouira town centre (approximately 100-150 dirham, or £22-33, by taxi each way) and there’s a joy in being able to get away from the thrum of the port town and lean into the quiet of the countryside. 

SEE MORE Getting lost in the markets of Marrakech SEE MORE Oualidia: a peaceful retreat on Morocco’s Atlantic coast

The drive to the hotel, and specifically the final approach, is somewhat unassuming. A sharp left off the motorway brings you to a rustic (by which I mean pot-holey) path. A couple of higgledy-piggledy hundred metres later, you pull up at the entrance of Le Jardin des Douars and are promptly rewarded for that rather uncomfortable higgle and piggle. 

The hotel is a veritable oasis, all curved sandstone buildings, tropical palms, winding pathways and not one but two pools for soaking up the sumptuous North African sun.

Le Jardin des Douars

The rooms

My partner and I stayed in a standard suite, but the room was far from standard. Each individual element had charm and character – think elegant pottery, wicker chandeliers, plush rugs and an overwhelming aura of well-thought-through tranquillity. 

On one side of the room, a huge glass door let the sun pour in each morning (when our curtains were drawn apart), making it that bit easier to haul ourselves out of bed. The bed itself was an inviting affair; sprawling, soft and firm in all the right ways, and perfect for a restful night’s sleep.

  New theory on Leonardo da Vinci’s mother divides experts

The bathroom deserves a mention, too. It was a generous space, boasting ample built-in cupboard space, his-and-hers sinks, a vast bathtub, a walk-in shower and still some room left over to swing a Moroccan cat (more on them later).

Le Jardin des Douars

Things to do 

The hotel has plenty to keep you occupied and entertained. For those keen to remain poolside and horizontal with the companionship of a good book, Le Jardin des Douars has helpfully built two separate pool areas. One welcomes children and one is exclusively for adults – you can infer which is the more chilled affair. 

Towels and sun beds are available at both, as well as some bespoke wicker hats which offer both sartorial flair and welcome shade as you toast in the sunshine. The pool water is cool, clear and inviting – a quick dip being the perfect way to take advantage of Morocco’s generous climate.

There’s a table tennis table on-site where kids can further expend their energies, but if you are more interested in the zen side of things, there’s a spa area offering a range of treatments, including massages and the traditional Moroccan hammam. I enjoyed the latter, spending a marvellous 45 mins being vigorously scrubbed, steamed and sploshed into a state of bliss. 

Le Jardin des Douars

Eating and drinking

You’re well catered for when it comes to food at Le Jardin des Douars. My partner and I had breakfast at the hotel each day and ate at the restaurant for two out of three nights. Traditional Moroccan fare is well represented, with sizzling meat and vegetable tagines the most tantalising options on offer. I tried the lamb and chicken tagines, and both dishes ran the full gamut of flavours, with preserved lemons, dates, local olives and nuts. 

  Dazzling Northern Lights visible across UK: when and how to see them

For breakfast each morning there is a thorough buffet selection, ranging from fresh fruits and yoghurt, to Moroccan breads and cheeses. There’s also an à la carte option which includes eggs as you like them, and of course, I would be remiss not to point out the unlimited supply of delicious Moroccan mint tea.

Le Jardin des Douars

Out and about 

For anyone able to resist the temptation of lounging all hours by the pool, there’s plenty to explore in the local area. Essaouira itself offers gorgeous sandy beaches, a historic Jewish centre and a sprawling souk with as tantalising an array of shopping options as Marrakech, but with much less of the mercantile pushiness.

The main medina is a fabulous warren of mysterious looking alleyways, rooftop cafes and raggedy-but-cute stray cats as far as the eye can see. At one end of the medina is the port, where you can while away hour upon hour watching locals haggle over freshly caught fish, eels, rays and even shark. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can buy a fish and have it cooked for you right then and there at one of the local barbecue stalls. One word of warning though – the local seagulls swoop around in daunting numbers, so it’s worth wearing a large-brimmed hat to avoid stray mid-flight droppings. 

For those into hiking, I recommend a day trip to explore Essaouira’s argan forests which have become a key part of the local export economy. A guide marched us around, explaining the importance of the argan tree and the various uses for its seeds and oil. 

  Sudoku medium: 27 February 2023

We also got to explore an old sugar mill, ramble across the grounds of a 17th century irrigation system and pop in for mint tea and honey at a local Berber family’s home. 

Le Jardin des Douars

The verdict

Overall my stay at Le Jardin des Douars, and Essaouira more broadly, was a delight. Luxurious but not ostentatious, the hotel provides a glorious hit of calm, serenity and class. 

Kate Samuelson was a guest of Le Jardin des Douars. Room rates start from around £150 a night; jardindesdouars.com 


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *