Baoussala

Near Essaouira, Essaouira & Atlantic Coast, Morocco Book from Eur85

A guesthouse with heart, hidden away in a eucalyptus grove near Essaouira - a genuine taste of that fabled real Morocco
Head south from Essaouira towards the surfing beaches of Sidi Kaouki, then cut seawards along a dusty track past errant donkeys, tiny farmsteads and waving children. Arriving at Baoussala will become a treasured memory, it’s one of those places where pictures will never capture the feeling and atmosphere they’ve created.

You’d never guess the pinky-salmon, crenellated walls of this kasbah-inspired hideaway are just a few decades old: antique window grilles, mature trees and a walled garden with rambling jasmines, roses and bougainvilleas suggest a much older building. The 6 bedrooms and suites, wrapping round an intimate courtyard, have been decorated with masses of TLC by Dominique, whose artistic sensitivity permeates every corner.
This delightful guesthouse has the feel of home and sanctum, with an accent on authenticity and simplicity. Come to make new Moroccan friends, eat wholesome food, walk barefoot through dunes and enjoy that sense of being far away from the mundane.

Highs

  • Dominique is one of the few ex-pats we met living in Morocco who treats her staff as if they were family
  • There are masses of intimate areas for chilling out - in the courtyard, by the pool and in the gardens
  • The exceptional cooking is of the slow variety, with a genuine commitment to using only fresh, local produce
  • The 6 bedrooms and suites are quiet and comfortable - decor is regularly refreshed
  • Bright colours, eye-catching fabrics and stacks of paintings by local artists impart a cosy vibe throughout the house

Lows

  • You're not quite on the beach (5km away), nor in Essaouira (9km away) - but the rural setting is magically tranquil
  • The 3km track leading to the house is bumpy and would be an ordeal after rain
  • The remoteness of Baoussala means that you'll probably eat in, but the food is excellent and fairly priced
  • It's not for the animal-shy, as Dominique’s dog and cat are an integral part of the scene

Best time to go

Avoid the midsummer months, when temperatures soar and Essaouira gets packed out. Spring is a great time for flowers and migrating birds, and you should still be able to swim here in autumn.

Our top tips

In Morocco it’s always a good idea to have a few photos of your family and home: you’re bound to be quizzed about them when you talk to local people.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 6
  • Meals by arrangement
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Hammam Room

Rooms

Having grown organically over the years, Baoussala’s 6 rooms and suites are spread between the main house and 2 smaller buildings in the garden. Though they all vary in layout, they do share a decorative, home-spun warmth. Cosy chill-out areas with low, cushion-strewn benches, original paintings and masses of candles easily compensate for any lack of ‘extras’.

We stayed in the Hammam Suite, the smallest space, but wonderfully cosy for couples (and, as the name suggests, converted from the former steam bath). Similarly petite is the Oasis Room, set in the verdant garden. In contrast, the romantic Red Room is very spacious but rather dark.

The suites are larger, and we felt the Blue Suite’s private terrace overlooking the garden gave it extra wow-factor. The gorgeous standalone Marabout Suite cottage, with its 2 bedrooms (one of which has a spectacular circular domed ceiling) and terrace (near the pool), is perfect for families.

Most of the bathrooms are rendered in beautiful sandy-coloured tadlakt. They're not grand, but they're perfectly in synch with the ‘keep it simple’ philosophy - and worth every dirham of their modest price tag.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Internet access
  • Terrace

Eating

It was in the kitchen that Baoussala scored the highest for us. Dominique is a genuine foodie who loves to experiment with new recipes, and all meals are moveable feasts.

The day begins with a Moroccan breakfast of freshly baked bread, pancakes, local jams and honey, coffee and tea à volonté, plus delicious fresh orange juice. This is the time to let Dominique know if you’d like to dine in that evening: she will be heading off to the market for fresh ingredients.

Poolside lunches are deliberately kept simple as guests tend to be visiting Essaouira or at the beach. Our grilled calamari and prawn salad was perfect.

But for dinner you can expect an extra-special feast. Both the sheltered courtyard and the cosy lounge look really lovely at night, when dozens of lamps are lit. You can also request dinner à deux - perhaps on the roof terrace under the stars…

Our supper started with olives and nibbles, before a peppery orange and black olive starter. Main courses are classical Moroccan: we had monkfish tagine, but couscous, chicken au citron and barbequed fish all make regular appearances. In her choice of desserts, Dominique reveals her Gallic origins: tarte aux poires, homemade chocolate cake.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Shop in Essaouira’s medina (15-minute drive) and be sure to wander down to the harbour to watch the day’s catch being auctioned, then treat yourself at one of the colourful little fish stalls
  • The nearest beach is at Sidi Kaouki (10km) - almost empty outside midsummer. It's great for windsurfing and kiting, with a reliable afternoon cross-shore wind ("chergui") and decent waves. Head into Essaouira for other watersports, or to Moulay for the best surfing
  • You can also go horse riding or quad-biking through argan forests and sand dunes to reach the beach
  • Follow the coastal highway south towards Agadir to see goats climbing trees in the argan forest; visit the weekly countryside flea markets of ida Ougourd (20 minutes away) and Smimou (30 minutes away)
  • At Baoussala, wander over to the kitchen and take an impromptu lesson in Moroccan cooking; chill out in a deckchair by the pool; or book a massage on the terrace - highly recommended

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Horse-riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Families are welcome at Baoussala which is, by nature, an inclusive type of place. Kids will get a lot of attention from the lovely Moroccan staff and love to play in the tortoise garden. They'll also get a buzz out of a camel or donkey ride along the beach.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Most rooms have space for at least 1 child. The suites can each sleep up to 4 people and we feel the large Marabout Suite is a particularly good option: 2 bedrooms, a living room, a terrace and a more private garden setting (yet near the pool).

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

A reduced-price menu is also available for children

Kids Activities on site:

Heated outdoor swimming pool with inflatables, and a safe walled garden to roam around.

Families Should Know:

Note that the pool has no lifeguard.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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