A guesthouse with heart, hidden away in a eucalyptus grove near Essaouira - a genuine taste of that fabled real Morocco”
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 8 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.
- 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 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
- 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
Our top tips
- Boutique Guesthouse
- 8 rooms
- Meals by arrangement
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Heated Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
Having grown organically over the years, Baoussala’s 8 rooms and suites are spread between the main house and a clutch of 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.
Since our visit, the Taabiha Cottage has been added. Hidden amid the gum trees, this stilted house has two rooms and sleeps up to 6. Expect a cute open-plan master bedroom-cum-lounge, a second lounge with a ladder leading to mezzanine bedroom, and a rustic bathroom complete with zinc bathtub. Warda Room has also joined the collection and looks just as delightful: minimal-chic with pale pink and nude shades, this is a little garden getaway we cannot wait to cosy up in.
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.
- Central heating
- Extra beds
- Internet access
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.
- Children's meals
- Dinner by arrangement
- Lunch by arrangement
- Vegetarian menu
- 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
- Horse riding
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
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.
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). The Taabiha Cottage sleeps 6, although one bedroom is accessed via a ladder.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
A reduced-price menu is also available for children
Kids Activities on site:
- Heated outdoor swimming pool with inflatables
- Safe walled garden to roam around
Families Should Know:
Note that the pool has no lifeguard
- Airport: 20 minutes
- Shops: 5 minutes
Baoussala is near the Atlantic coast, just south of Essaouira, in northern Morocco.
Essaouira (10km) is served by several airlines and is an easy drive or taxi ride away; you can also fly into Marrakech Menara (180km away).
There are regular buses and masses of grands taxis (shared taxis) from Marrakech to Essaouira, or you can take a private taxi which Baoussala can organise for you. Car hire is also a popular option - there's off-street parking on site. If you opt for a bus, we'd recommend the Supratours from outside the train station in Gueliz, Marrakech. They're fast (2.5-3 hours) and air-conditioned, but book tickets at least a day ahead. Baoussala can send a taxi to collect you on arrival in Essaouira.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Morocco and getting around.
- Marrakech Menara 180.0 km RAK
- Essaouira 10.0 km ESU
- Beach 6.0 km
- Shops 3.0 km
- Restaurant 3.0 km