I managed to convince Chris that it would be good to get away just us two before we become three an, it turns out, 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.
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.
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.
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…