‘Soak up the sun and serenity’
Are you in the mood for some winter sun? I am! Morocco’s always on my radar, at just over three hours from London, (yet feeling worlds away) this country proves that you don’t always need to fly long haul to reach an exotic destination! Of course you can follow the tourist tribe inland to Marrakech, but wouldn’t it be cooler to tune in, drop out, and channel Jimi Hendrix… in Essaouira instead?
I chose the bright and breezy option of this laid back city, where it’s easy to get lost in time strolling around the old town and the harbour. Thrill seekers can tackle the waves (yes it’s a paradise for surfers) or go quad biking in the dunes..or even take in the yearly hip hop festival.
My base was the most delicious destination in Essaouira, Jardin des Douars. Clearly inspired by the traditional earth kasbahs of the high atlas, this French-owned hotel is perched in the hills above the Ksob river, in an oasis of palms, plants and monkey puzzle trees. This chic and totally laid back retreat has 25 rooms spaced out between a main ksar building and domed terracotta villas dotted throughout its tropical gardens.
Spend your days relaxing by a choice of two heated shimmering jade green pools, or be tantalised by an ever changing seasonal menu of local produce served by staff who are attentive but never intrusive. I was quite happy to soak up the serentity, but should you wish to get out and about, the hotel offers an efficient shuttle service into Essaouira Medina…door to door in just fifteen minutes.
One of the highlights of my stay was a trip to the hotels hammam and a possibility to wash away your troubles in the most luxurious surroundings. At Jardin des Douars they elevate this bathing ritual to a completely different level, and from the moment I entered the dimly lit spa, it was clear that I was in a temple to the body, where people come to worship and be worshipped.
In a hot dimly-lit room, filled by soothing aromas, the ritual began. My therapist alternated between massaging and kneading a gooey black soap (made from olive resin) firmly into my skin. Within minutes I was stretched out on a warm marble slab, with no tension left in my body, or mind. Next came the exfoliation with a detoxifying body mask and the traditional kessa massage glove. After being washed from head to toe, a noticeably more smooth and relaxed me, settled down for a few further moments of escape.
I entered the spa, as I had done the hotel… hot and hassled. I floated out of both renewed, relaxed and rendered blissfully at ease by my luxuriously surroundings.
Thank you Jardin des Douars..I’ll be back!
Tester: Nick Cox Editor The Grooming Guide.
Destination: Jardin Des Douars.
Verdict:‘a luxurious oasis’
1. Tropical Gardens.
2. Delicious Seasonal Food.
3. Grooming Guide Editor Nick Cox, Blissed Out At Breakfast.
4. Room Interior.
5. Jardin des Douars Essaouira At Night.
6. Jardin Des Douars Inner Courtyard.