Unwinding in Essaouira

Riad Baoussala, via i-escape. Photographs: Christopher O’Donnell.

I managed to convince Chris that it would be good to get away just us two before we become three and, with the builders starting the worst of the demolition work the week we left, it couldn’t have come at a better time…

We wanted to visit somewhere warm in November yet free from Zika and somewhere Chris and I hadn’t been to before…yet also affordable. It was a tall order!

I originally thought of Marrakech, as although I’d been for shoots I had never visited on holiday, but then I remembered someone talking about Essaouira when I worked at Conde Nast Traveller – and if it’s good enough for them, it would definitely be fine for us. And we absolutely loved it. The perfect affordable break, we found direct flights from Luton for £55 (although had to pay for luggage on top as there was no way I wasn’t going to shop whilst out there), and then found Riad Baoussala through a favourite travel website i-escape (which we used a lot for places to stay in India). Kindly, they offered us two complimentary nights stay – and we paid for the rest of our trip.

Dress: £88, Free People.

The Riad itself was beautiful, the perfect amount of rustic charm and the staff couldn’t have been more attentive. The vibe was relaxed, you get up when you want, sit where you want and play Scrabble in front of the log fire. It’s a 15 minute taxi ride into town (roughly £10 trip) so you feel removed from the city but close enough to still feel connected.

Weather-wise, it was the perfect mix of chilly starts (I lived in an oversized cardigan until about 10am and after 6pm) but with temperatures rising to around 27 in the day in November.

Dress: £34.99, Reserved (old).

Our companion during our stay: the owner’s dog, Baya

Dress: H&M (old)

Hat: Asos (old). Shirt: Uniqlo (old). Bikini: Cos (old).

Dress: £79, And Other Stories (old). Sandals: Ancient Greek Sandals (old).

And of course we went shopping…I was really impressed by the souk and medina in Essaouira – if you’re looking for colourful rugs, blankets, cushions and baskets, then this really is the place (far more interesting than Marrakech, in my opinion) but don’t expect too many bargains. We bought a small rug which we managed to haggle down on the price but most vendors wouldn’t do too much of a deal and would let us walk away freely.

There are lots of great restaurants in town – we had dinner in Caravane Cafe – hidden in a courtyard full of plants just off a hidden side street, we found a lovely little cafe called Bistro, and enjoyed some live music in Megaloft. More often than not though, we ate dinner at the Riad – the food was excellent, reasonably priced and we had the pleasure of walking 10 steps back to our room afterwards.

The nearby beach of Sidi Kaoki – a small surfing hub

For a winter getaway, I cannot recommend Essaouira enough – and just a few hours from Marrakech it would make a great combined trip. We came home feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready to tackle the next stage of our building work back in London – although 3 days later, it already feels like a lifetime ago…

Thank you i-escape for helping introduce us to a new part of the world.


  1. What fabulous images, the colours are amazing. I visited Essaouira 25years ago and it was a mind blowing place that captured your senses and your heart! Once again an inspiring Saturday post! – Lin, Herts xx

  2. We went to Essaouira in March for the second time and loved it too. The first time I got terrible food poisoning (a long time ago) so it was good to exorcise that particular memory! ? I did find a few bargains, including a Moroccan wedding blanket and a circular basket bag for a fiver but you do have to search them out. You look like you had a lovely time.

    1. I was worried about sickness (especially as most foods have been tricky for me lately) but luckily I was fine! Yes I am really not good on haggling, I get all confused by what I actually want to pay in the end! xx

  3. Love this post! I went to Marrakech in September and fell in love with it (even though I’d been before). But now I’ve seen this I think Essaouira will be my next trip – looks a bit calmer but still has all the amazing rugs and trinkets that need to be brought home! x

  4. Sounds perfect. I’m making notes as we’re currently in a taxi to essouria now for our final four nights. Looking forward to hitting up the souks again although the luggage situation is seriously dire! Eek!

    Mel x. Mediamarmalade.com

    1. We stayed in the red room which was the second cheapest (and actually all they had left) but so much room, the smaller one looks perfect! The Hammam suite looked gorgeous too (I peeked in whilst it was being cleaned!) xx

  5. Alex, just a quick comment to say that I LOVED Japan (I want to go back), and your city guides were super helpful, thank-you. If you do go back my big recommendation is Naoshima – an art island off the coast of Japan, it was amazing.

  6. OMG! Your post has made me want to go to Essaouira like now! Your photography is to die for – the colours are stunning! and the rugs and baskets omg!
    Thank you for your tips – I have been here briefly before but only for a day trip – so definitely want to go back now as well as to Marrakech!

  7. I haven’t been to Essaouira but heard v good things! Currently living and working in a surf camp further down the coast outside Agadir – beautiful beaches in Morocco and great quality surfing! (although perhaps not if you’re pregnant!)

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