Number Thirty

Essaouira & Atlantic Coast, Morocco Book from £100

Reviewed by Fiona Reece
Essaouira meets Brighton: an original townhouse with bright, quirky furnishings (sleeps 2-6) just a stone's throw from Essaouira's main square and beach
As first impressions go, this one's a bit bizarre. You wind away from Essaouira's main square, down crooked streets and into a dark alley. And just as you're thinking you must have got it wrong, a pink door emerges from the gloom. Welcome to Number Thirty. It's not what you'd expect in the traditional, fishing town of Essaouira; and neither are the interiors. Tiffany Mumford - the owner, a stylist and photographer - has created a wonderfully kitsch little sanctum inside, and it's a world away from all things Moorish.

Bar the pink door, things look standard from the outside. A whitewashed townhouse, with star-shaped windows and keyhole doorways. But enter via the kitchen and you're dazzled by flowered chairs, an array of hot-pink implements and a fuchsia fridge. Upstairs, 3 double bedrooms and a salon are sprinkled with antique toys and colourful trinkets; and at the top, a roof terrace is lined with retro cushions to lounge on. It's quirky and it's cool. Cath Kidston, eat your heart out.

Highs

  • Lots of original charm; authentic floor tiles, old taps, keyhole doorways
  • Decorated with a real sense of fun; pink plastic chairs, beaded fringes and an abundance of 70s fabrics
  • Great location in central Essaouira - within easy walking distance of the beach and restaurants, but in a quiet street (lit at night)
  • The roof terrace; perfect for sunbathing

Lows

  • Some may find it a bit rustic
  • The rooftop overlooks a few ramshackle buildings
  • No air con or fans so it may get hot in summer
  • We've had reports that the kitchen is looking a bit tired

Best time to go

February-April is the ideal time to come, for warm weather without the soaring temperatures of summer. September is the windiest month, and the winter attracts crowds of wind and kitesurfers and a buzzy, party vibe.

Our top tips

While away the afternoon sipping a mint tea on the roof terrace of Taros, and don’t miss their fantastic shop as you climb the stairs - great clothes, interiors and art.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Riad Rental
  • 3 double bedrooms
  • Self-catering (+ meals available on request)
  • Only children aged 12+ are accepted
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The 3 double bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a salon wind around the central staircase, which is lovely and light thanks to open star-shaped windows and everything being painted white. The downside is that all rooms are quite small; the upside is they've been beautifully kitted out. There's space for 6 people to stay, but a couple wouldn't rattle around, and it's probably best suited to a group of 4.

The house is imbued with the essence of Tiffany; stylish but unpretentious, quirky and interesting. Iron bedsteads have been bought locally, bedspreads crocheted or made from lace, and cushions and curtains fashioned from retro 70s fabrics. Old-style Moroccan toys (skittles, dolls, little cars, a rocking horse) add a quirky decorative touch, and there are handmade rag rugs on every floor. Bathrooms are more traditional, with original taps and sinks, and tadlakt walls.

The more you look, the more you find. Tiny old cameras (including a Kodak Brownie) on a shelf, a stunning bauble light in the stairwell (Roast Designs, no expense spared), postcards depicting the Old Testament in the salon. This room is the social hub, with a vintage Heal's bedspread upholstered into lounging cushions, and a wrought iron table.

Features include:

  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Oven
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv

Eating

The house is kitted out for self-catering, with a gas cooker and oven, sink, crockery for 6 and a fuchsia fridge-freezer. But if you'd prefer, Hisham the guardian can organise meals. He'll prepare and serve breakfast (tea/coffee, fresh OJ, bread, croissants, jams, fruit and perhaps pancakes) and will either bring dinners, or arrange for someone to come and cook at the house; tagines, fresh fish or meat with couscous, Moroccan salads.

If you'd prefer to cook, Hisham can take you shopping to local markets, and there are shops at the end of the street where you can buy fresh French bread, croissants, juice, water etc. Equipment-wise there are good knives, a peeler and corkscrew, although don't expect the likes of a potato masher.

The drawback to self-catering is the lack of table space. There's a tiny table and 2 chairs plus a small workbench and 3 stools in the kitchen; or there's a bigger table in the salon which you can move up to the roof terrace if you prefer (although this will then entail carrying everything up 3 flights of stairs).

But if you're a seafood lover, you'll probably want to eat out; the quality of the fish stalls is excellent.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Chef on request
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Food and wine
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Meal delivery service
  • Oven
  • Walk to restaurants
  • Welcome hamper
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hisham will take you on a little tour of the walled medina when you arrive, and may offer to take you on a walk to a lighthouse, stopping to have tea with his friends in a fishing village (we can recommend this); he can also organise bikes to use
  • Stroll around the bustling fishing harbour and watch the day's catch being unloaded. Tuck into freshly grilled sardines from one of the pavement stalls; there's an army of vendors offering to cook their catch for you
  • Walk along the long, wide beach. It'll may be too blustery to sunbathe (Essaouira is famed for its strong winds), but you can do that back on the rooftop terrace
  • Visit the ruined fortification dating from the Portuguese occupation at the far end of the beach
  • Essaouira is renowned for its Thuya woodwork. Watch some of the country's best craftsmen at work in small shops and buy caskets and boxes in all shapes and sizes, inlaid with decorative motifs in mother-of-pearl or ebony and sometimes with threads of copper, silver or camel bone
  • Shop in the souks: friendlier, cheaper and often better quality than in Marrakech, especially for Thuya wooden furniture and carvings

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Food and wine
  • Historical sites
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Although older children (12+) are allowed, it's really an adult place. There are lots of vintage one-off bits of furniture in the house; floors and stairs are concrete or tiled. All beds are doubles, and there are no extra beds/baby cots.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

7/
Rooms
8/
Service
5/
Value
7/
Overall

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Rates for Number Thirty