Dar Lazuli

Essaouira & Atlantic Coast, Morocco
Book from GBP Book from £50 per night

A quirky, cosy riad with 3 apartment suites and sun-trap roof terraces, hidden deep within Essaouira’s medina

A quirky, cosy riad with 3 apartment suites and sun-trap roof terraces, hidden deep within Essaouira’s medina

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve taken a wrong turning as you head down rue Moussa ben Noussaire, a dark alleyway tucked away in Essaouira’s tangled medina. But press on and you’ll come across a smart, white studded door, which swings open to reveal housekeepers Rachid and Latifa, who greet you with huge smiles. This is Dar Lazuli: a homely refuge from the jumble of narrow streets outside. Step inside and you’ll find shelves laden with stacks of books, walls dotted with quirky ceramics and strings of shells, and tiled floors covered in colourful striped rugs. All around are brightly painted nooks where you can snuggle up with a good book; by the door, a collection of beach hats awaits those who want to amble along the town’s windswept sands.

Dar Lazuli has an authentic, rustic riad feel, with 3 apartment suites arranged around a central colonnaded courtyard. All have kitchens, sitting areas and super-comfy beds; most have fires to keep you cosy in winter. Climb up the twisting stone staircase and you’ll come across a series of sunny terraces, with wooden tables where you can dine al fresco and cushioned seats for lazy afternoons. If you’re after a super-smart, slick hotel then stay away; if you want an intimate hideaway with a warm welcome, rates that won’t scare your bank manager, and don't mind speaking a bit of French, then you’ll love it.


  • The quirky apartments mix traditional Moroccan elements with modern touches to make you feel at home
  • It may not have the bells and whistles of high-end hotels, but the fundamentals are done well: showers are powerful, beds are comfy and breakfast hits the spot
  • The medina location means you’re right at the hub of things, with plenty of restaurants nearby, and only 2 minutes from the beach
  • The 3 terraces (including one on the roof) are real sun-traps - sit back on the cushioned benches and doze off to the sounds of Essaouira life all around you
  • Amazing value


  • The alleyway in front of the riad is dingy and a little smelly, and there’s some street noise from outside
  • Rachid and Latifa are friendly and hugely helpful hosts, but they don’t speak much English; make sure you brush up on your French and have your translation app at the ready
  • The rooms can feel a little dark and damp in the colder months; make sure you request one with a fireplace
  • The mosque clock tower chimes every 15 minutes, but you soon get used to it

Best time to go

At any time - Essaouira’s moderate climate brings mild winters and warm summers. October to March is the best time for surfing and Dar Lazuli’s cosy fires mean the riad is particularly appealing at this time of year, though there’s a chance of rain. Summer (May to September) is better for kitesurfing and windsurfing. Unlike other areas of Morocco, Essaouira doesn’t get unbearably hot in July and August, though it can become very crowded. Come in late June for the week-long Gnaoua and World Music Festival, but make sure you book well in advance.

Our top tips

Follow the coastal highway south towards Agadir to see the strange sight of goats climbing trees in the argan forest; if time permits, detour up the winding road to Immouzer des Ida Outanane for a swim in its waterfall

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
  • Riad Hotel
  • 3 bedrooms
  • Breakfast (+ self-catering facilities)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen


All apartments have white-washed walls offset by colourful blankets, and wall niches daubed in vibrant shades of hot pink, sea green and nautical blue. Arched windows, intricate metalwork lanterns, tiled floors and stone pillars add an element of Moroccan charm, while unusual trinkets (a Mickey Mouse plate here, a collection of antique keys there) provide quirky touches. Each has a kitchen and a sitting area, plus an enormous bed (handmade in Fes) with Egyptian cotton linen, a snugly duck-down duvet and a divine memory foam mattress.

Our favourite is Calima, an airy space on the upper floor with light streaming in through ceiling windows and glass-brick walls. The mosaic-tiled kitchen and seating area are warmed by an open fireplace in winter (bellows and logs are provided) and the fabulous pebble-floored bathroom has a curvaceous stone shower. The bed sits on a curtained mezzanine level above. Ghibli, set just off one of the terraces, is smaller but also has a fireplace. Its bathroom is painted Majorelle blue and the bedroom has a tadelakt wardrobe and a raised bed with pink throws.

We stayed in Alizee, the only apartment without a fireplace - fine in summer and equipped with a heater during the colder months. It has a steep staircase from the main bedroom area to the second bedroom. Due to the stairs, this is best suited to families with older kids. The spacious shower room has an excellent shower and the kitchen is well equipped. Cosy blankets are also provided for cooler evenings.

There’s no air-conditioning, but the riad’s thick walls keep the interiors cool and you’re unlikely to miss it.

Features include:

  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots available
  • WiFi


The apartment kitchens are rustic rather than sleek and modern, but they’re kitted out with everything you need to prepare simple meals: a hob, a fridge, a kettle, pans, cutlery and crockery. If you’re coming from Marrakech, you’ll pass a hypermarket called Marjane as you leave the city (it’s around 15 minutes from the airport, just after the Afriquia petrol station), where you can stock up on food and wine.

Within Essaouira itself, the medina is brimming with market stalls where you can haggle for meat, vegetables and spices, and Dar Lazuli has plenty of well-thumbed cookbooks for culinary inspiration. We enjoyed browsing the line of fish vendors who set up along the seafront at dusk and buying just-caught whitebait, sardines and calamari to take back to the riad. Takeaway pizzas are also available from the town’s main square, Place Moulay Hassan.

Breakfast is included in the rates, served leisurely from 9am either on a terrace or in the salon if the weather in unfavourable. The spread includes delicious crepes, fluffy bread, yogurt, seasonal jams and honey, fresh juice and coffee. With a little notice and for an additional charge, Rachid and Latifa will happily whip up Moroccan feasts for dinner and deliver them to your apartment in the evening. Make sure your French is good enough to explain any special dietary requirements, as their English is limited.

If you want to eat out there are plenty of options nearby. Chez Sam is an excellent fish restaurant on the seafront, while Taros serves Moroccan fare and steaks (with a rooftop bar, a club and a fashion boutique also housed across its 4 floors). Taverna Bolonese da Maurizo is a 5-minute walk away and offers an authentic Italian alternative to tagines and, unlike many Essaouira eateries, it has an alcohol license. For lighter meals and lunch, head to Panoramique on the beach for smoothies, poke bowls and burgers whilst watching the camels and admiring the surfers taking to the waves.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Fridge
  • Kitchenette
  • Restaurants nearby


  • Wander along Essaouira’s huge swathe of sand - you can amble for miles, watching surfers take to the waves, though it’s often too blustery for sunbathing. At the end of the beach are ruined fortifications dating from the 16th-century Portuguese occupation - the ramparts offer an excellent vantage point for soaking up the coastal views

  • Head to the harbour and watch fisherman unloading their catch from the mass of bright blue wooden boats, then sample freshly grilled sardines from the array of vendors who line the quays at dusk

  • Go camel riding, quad biking or pony trekking along the coast to the sand dunes at Sidi Kaouki - Rachid and Latifa can help with arrangements

  • Wander through the tangle of narrow streets and souks in the medina, stopping to watch craftsmen producing the thuya woodwork and lacquerware for which Essaouira is known

  • Visit the town’s main art gallery, Gallerie d'Art Frederic Damgaard, then browse the many artists’ stalls in Place Moulay Hassan

  • Go surfing (in winter), or kite surfing (in summer). Mogasurf is recommended for beginners seeking lessons

  • Borrow one of Dar Lazuli’s books, make some mint tea and head up to one of the roof terraces for a lazy afternoon under the sun

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Horse riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Windsurfing


Children of all ages are welcome at Dar Lazuli, though the tiled floors, balcony areas and stone stairs mean it’s better suited to older children.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Alizee can take additional twin beds on its mezzanine level (bear in mind that this is reached via a steep, almost ladder-like staircase). Two baby cots are available and can be added to any apartment for a small additional charge.

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:


Dar Lazuli is set down a narrow alleyway within the walls of Essaouira’s medina, on Morocco’s west coast. It’s a 2-minute walk from the beach and the town’s main square. It sits behind the well-known hotel Villa Maroc - a useful landmark when negotiating your way around the maze of tiny streets.

By Air
Essaouira (10km away) is the closest airport, but it has limited flights. Most people fly into Marrakech Menara (175km away) or Agadir (197km away), which have more international links, then take a bus or a taxi to Essaouira. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport
The journey from Essaouira airport to the medina takes around 20 minutes; both Marrakech and Agadir airports are 2+ hours' drive. You can either book a taxi, take a bus or hire a car (see below). Whichever option you choose, bear in mind that you’ll have to walk the last few hundred metres to Dar Lazuli.

By Bus
There are regular buses, as well as a constant stream of grand taxis, ploughing the route between Marrakech and Essaouira. We'd advise taking the Supratours bus from outside the train station in Gueliz, Marrakech. These are fast (2.5-3 hours) and air-conditioned, but not frequent (there are currently 2 per day, leaving at 11am and 7pm).

By Car
You won't need a car to get around Essaouira itself but if you want to hire one to drive there from Marrakech, or to explore the wider area, see our car rental recommendations. There is a public car park in the main square, Place Moulay Hassan, and parking is generally cheap.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

More on getting to Morocco and getting around.


  • Marrakech Menara 175.0 km RAK
  • Essaouira 10.0 km ESU


  • Beach 0.2 km
  • Shops 0.1 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

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