Le Jardin des Douars

near Essaouira, Essaouira & Atlantic Coast, Morocco
Book from GBP Book from £79 per night

Le Jardin des Douars

near Essaouira, Essaouira & Atlantic Coast, Morocco

A laid-back countryside escape near Essaouira for couples, families and friends; beautiful garden, spa and pools

A laid-back countryside escape near Essaouira for couples, families and friends; beautiful garden, spa and pools

Driving inland from the wind-battered coast, past laden donkeys and fields of argan trees, Le Jardin des Douars appears like a sandcastle on the horizon. Pass through the gates, and colour explodes from the botanical gardens; birds tweet, bees buzz, and calm slips over you like a Moroccan cape. From the main ksar atop the valley, lush gardens cascade down to the oued (river) below. We spent happy afternoons spotting terrapins in ponds, lazing in hammocks and counting butterflies. Two heated jade-green pools are the focal point – a quiet infinity pool for adults, another for families to go wild. And as the sun drops, the enchanting candlelit terrace bar serves up cocktails serenaded by a frog-and-cricket chorus, followed by alfresco dining under starry skies in the warmer months.

Inside the imposing façade, plant-filled courtyards and tranquil water features give a refreshing, inside-out feel. Rooms, Suites and Villas are classically Moroccan in style, with traditional tiled floors, antique furniture and time-worn doors. It’s only 15 years old, but already feels rooted here. The beaches and medina of Essaouira are 15 minutes away, but the happy vibe, slick service and genuine warmth make it hard to tear yourself away.

Highs

  • Sensational botanical gardens bursting at the seams with colour against the bright blue sky; absolutely stunning on our last revisit
  • All pools are heated to 28C, so you can swim year round
  • A wonderful balance between a family haven and a couples' retreat; adult-only areas include a pool, dining room and candlelit hammam spa
  • Feels decadent but with a well-pitched price tag – especially if renting one of the fabulous staffed villas
  • The inland river-valley location ensures you avoid the worst of the infamous local winds

Lows

  • No outside life within walking distance, so you're confined to eating on site or shuttling into Essaouira (no bad thing with fantastic restaurants)
  • You'll probably want a car unless staying put; taxis add up (although a shuttle bus option is available)
  • If here in the school holidays, you may not find the tranquility and romance you're after as many families are in residence
World Favourite Family Hideaway

    Best rooms for families

    Douaria Suites are small self-contained houses in the garden, with 1 double bedroom, 1 twin bedroom and a lounge with space for another 2 single beds. Smala Rooms have a double bedroom and a lounge area with space for 2 single beds or 1 single bed and a baby cot on request; some have an outdoor terrace so you can enjoy an evening drink whilst the kids sleep. Beldi rooms have a kingsize bed and a single bed plus space for a baby cot. The split-level Mogador Suite sleeps up to 6; the Royal Suite has 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin) plus a lounge with a single bed; the Sultan Suite has two bedrooms and sleeps up to 5. Villa Suites each sleep up to 10 (in 2 double bedrooms and 2 triple bedrooms), with space for 2 baby cots and private pool (heated to 28C year round) and cook.

    Parents should know...

    The pool is unfenced and unsupervised; the formal flowering gardens and house are set over many levels with steps everywhere; the ponds are open and unfenced; there's no lawn/large area to run around/kick about in
  • Baby cots
  • Baby baths
  • Bottle warmers
  • Potty

Some equipment may need to be requested in advance

On request

No baby monitors so bring your own; some rooms in the main ksar will be in range from the restaurant - enquire when booking

A kids' menu and high chairs

  • Boules court
  • Ping pong
  • Board games
  • Family pool
  • Beach
  • Windsurfing and kitesurfing
  • Camel and horse rides
  • Cookery lessons at L'atelier nearby
  • Quad biking

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Foodie
Romantic
Spa
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 25 rooms, 6 villas for up to 14
  • Restaurant + bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Babysitting
  • Creche / Kids Club
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Boules
Room:

Rooms

Local Maghreb style permeates throughout, with desert hues and chunky antique wooden furniture. Unique African art and black and white Moroccan scenes adorn tadelakt walls, while Zellige-tiled floors and open ceilings add authenticity.

There's a bewildering array of different rooms - see rates for full details. The bulk are spread over 2 floors in the main ksar building (bag an upper room for views and added breeze in the summer months); others are set in separate domed buildings amongst the gardens.

We stayed in a Choukran room (the cheapest), a good size for couples with a suntrap terrace to listen to the birds and bees. Grander options for romance include Pacha rooms with big baths and fireplaces. For families and friends there are triples (Beldi) and large Suites whose living areas double-up as bedrooms; we were impressed by our Babel Suite on our 2018 revisit. The standalone Villa Suites sleep up to 14, with private swimming pools and cooks; perfect for bigger groups.

Don’t expect mod cons; there’s a deliberate absence of TVs to ensure you enjoy the peace.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • WiFi

Eating

Dinner on the terrace, under starry skies and silhouetted palms, feels wonderfully Mediterranean. Whether you go à la carte or set menu (3 daily changing courses), expect traditional Moroccan flavours with a French twist. It’s hard to pick a winner between the chorizo-stuffed squid and the succulent chicken, date and almond tagine we tried; both were outstanding. On cooler nights, the indoor dining area/lounge has a sociable atmosphere and large fireplace, a candlelit snug is adults only.

Breakfast is buffet style and French in flavour. Think baguettes, cheeses and hams, eggs to order, indulgent French toast with honey, delicious poached spiced fruits, nuts and cereals. Filter coffee was on the weak side, but caffeine junkies can get a Nespresso hit at an extra charge. Simple salads and light snacks (try the ceviche) are served at lunchtime; we feasted like pashas at the buzzy Sunday BBQ with ample meats, fish and salads (avocado and crab was a hit) setting us up for an afternoon nap poolside.

For a change of scene head into Essaouira; staff can recommend restaurants.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Kids' meals
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax and don't feel guilty. Many people hole up here for a week and barely leave. Alternate between the 2 pools, read a book in a hammock and wander the gardens
  • Spoil yourself in the candlelit hammam spa with argan pulp face scrubs, Moroccan and Oriental massages, and hot-stone treatments
  • Spend a day exploring Essaouira's old medina, ramparts and harbour. It's a great place to idle, drinking mint tea and watching local life happen around you
  • We bought beautiful blankets and beach towels for a snip in the souks - much cheaper than Marrakech's, and with a laid-back attitude to bartering
  • Head to the beach for wind- and kite-surfing (the coast nearby is world-renowned)
  • Various local companies offer camel, horse or quad rides along the dunes at sunset
  • Visit the waterfalls that flow into the sea (staff can arrange a picnic), or play a round at the nearby Mogador Golf Academy

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Camel rides
  • Cooking classes
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Private guided tours
  • Quad biking
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing

Best Time to go

Unlike other parts of Morocco, Essaouira is a year-round destination. The famous summer winds keep the temperature to a bearable degree even in July and August. Locals swear by the calm other-worldly light in January and February, but it can get a bit nippy in the evenings. We'd recommend either March to May or September to November for the best overall conditions. The hotel is closed for two weeks in January annually

Our Top Tips

Go wine tasting at the Val d'Argan, said to be the best winery in Morocco. The cheapest Gazelle de Mogador is a crisp, refreshing white (perfect with fresh fish) and the Orient du Val d’Argan is gutsy and moreish
Kid Friendly:

Location

The hotel is set in a river valley, 15 minutes inland from the coast and the beautiful walled town of Essaouira. The location means you avoid the worst of the infamous winds, gain a few degrees in sunny warmth and can relax in comfort.

By Air:
Fly into Essaouira (10km), Marrakech (177km) or Agadir (191km). Click on the links below for a list of airlines. The hotel can arrange transfers from either airport - see Rates - or you can hire a car (useful for exploring and going in and out of town; roads are good). See our car rental recommendations.

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

More on getting to Morocco and getting around

Airports:

  • Essaouira Mogador 10.0 km ESU
  • Marrakech Menara 177.0 km MAR

Other:

  • Beach 10.0 km
  • Shops 10.0 km
  • Restaurant 10.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 6 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
8/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
9/10
Overall

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Rates for Le Jardin des Douars

Arriving on: