“Spacious riads (1-4 bedrooms each), with swimming pools and superb service, in a coastal village just south of Essaouira”
Our perfect break, however, did not involve surfing in any form. We had washed up here to stay at this unique riad set-up. It consists of a terrace of 6 serviced riads, with a heated lap pool, large lawn, tennis court and hammam alongside. The 3 larger riads also have private swimming pools and walled gardens. All work brilliantly for families, with full kitchens, though all meals can be cooked for you, and there are restaurants nearby. Interiors have warm Moroccan hues set against clean white walls, huge lamps hanging from triple-height ceilings, and lanterns at dusk. Days went swimmingly: a camel ride up the beach to a delicious fish restaurant, a spot of ping-pong, a deep massage. Memorably, we also visited a local Berber lady in her home for a simply delicious tagine. At day's end we ascended to our roof terrace for the sunset, devoured a wonderful dinner, then relaxed fireside in cosy comfort. A perfect break indeed.
- Immaculately kept and efficiently run by Mohamed, Fatima and their excellent concierge team
- A very flexible set-up, with riads of various sizes; or you can just take a room or suite in quieter months
- Delicious food served in your riad at the time and place of your choosing - plus complimentary afternoon tea with yummy homemade cakes!
- A great range of activities both on-site and nearby, including the beach a 2-minute stroll away
- An impressive commitment to investing in the local economy, including financial support for the village school
- Be aware that Sidi Kaouki is a tiny place with just a handful of cafés and restaurants; for a wider choice, head into Essaouira (25 mins’ drive)
- School holidays fill up way in advance (and no wonder, this is our favourite family bolthole around Essaouira); book early
- We found the swimming pools a little chilly, even though they're heated in the winter months
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 6 riads for 2-10
- Breakfast included, other meals on request
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Heated Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Tennis Court
- Laundry service
The 6 riads sit side by side in a terrace of ascending size, from one-bedroom Dar Etoile to 4-bedroom Riad Valmar. All have balconies, patios and roof terraces swathed in flowering creepers.
Modern in construction, yet with traditional craftsmanship throughout in fabrics, tassels, rugs and tadelakt walls, the immaculately presented riads come with well-equipped kitchens, squashy sofas and fireplaces. All except Dar Etoile have triple-height ceilings topped by a remote-controlled skylight giving a wonderful sense of space and light.
The 3 smallest share access to the swimming pool. The remainder have a private pool within walled gardens apiece, and 4-poster beds in master bedrooms. Riad Valmar comes with internal courtyards and Riad Sila (where we stayed) has a 14m living-dining room, perfect for larger groups and family gatherings.
Nearly all the supremely comfortable bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms. You get twin sinks, showers and baths in each riad; rose petals and argan oil potions await your arrival.
During low season, you can take an individual room in Riads Sila and Valmar; during school holidays you must book a riad in its entirety.
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- DVD player
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Ipod dock
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
Let Mohamed and Fatima know when and where to serve breakfast. We partook of coffee, fresh fruit, fresh juice, yoghurt, crusty bread and Moroccan pancakes on our sunny poolside terrace.
A light lunch of salads, grilled fish of the day, lamb kebabs or sandwiches can be delivered from nearby cafes. Complimentary afternoon tea of mint tea, biscuits and freshly baked cake is served in the open-sided salon daily; a chance to meet your fellow guests.
Dinner needs to be confirmed by midday; the chef will check the planned menu with you. We had ham salad to start followed by a stunning vegetarian tagine with fresh fruit salad for dessert. You get a bottle of wine for booking through i-escape; for soft drinks choose from the honesty bar. Rebali Riads can purchase wine and beer locally on request but doesn't have an alcohol licence.
Sidi Kaouki has some nice cafes and restaurants for a change of scene. We really enjoyed our tasty lunch at fresh fish restaurant la Mouette et Chameau, a short camel ride (or 20-minute walk) up the beach.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Dinner by arrangement
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Lunch by arrangement
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Our highlight was a camel ride along the beach to a fish restaurant for lunch. You can also take a beach picnic, visit the Cap Sim headland, or visit local waterfalls on longer journeys. Or stay overnight and camp in a Berber tent
- The coastline here is renowned for windsurfing, surfing and kitesurfing; there are operators in the village
- Luxuriate in the hammam with an all-over scrub treatment, or have a deep-tissue massage, face mask, or mani- or pedicure treatment
- Cooking classes and pastry-making demos are a treat: purchase ingredients in the souks of Essaouira with the chef, then return to your riad where he assists in preparing your chosen dish for lunch or dinner
- There's a tennis court, with racquets and balls to borrow
- Yoga classes are held once or twice a week on request
- Walk up the road for a delicious chicken tagine lunch with a local lady in her homestead
- Go horse-riding on the beach
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Camel rides
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Star gazing
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
Our children really loved it here and were very disappointed to leave. The set-up of a terrace of separate riads connected by a garden to romp around and heated pool to splash in allowed them to make easy playmates with our neighbours. Best of all they enjoyed meeting the tortoises and chameleons. The staff were unfailingly kind to kids. In short, this is our favourite family escape around Essaouira.
Note that if you're travelling with children under 12 you need to take a riad in entirety.
Family friendly accommodation:
The 3 largest riads (Dar Mevada, Riad Sila and Riad Valmar) have 3 or 4 bedrooms apiece so work well for a large family party, and each has a private swimming pool in a walled garden. The 3 smaller riads (Dar Etoile/Azreq/Jeseli) have 1 or 2 bedrooms apiece. All riads can fit an extra bed and/or baby cot.
- Baby cots
- High chair
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Special requests easily catered for with advance notice. You can also self-cater in your riad; shops are nearby
Kids Activities on site:
- Heated swimming pools
- Lawn for tearing about
- Table tennis
- Tennis court and racquets to borrow
- Tortoises and chameleons
- Games including boules, beach cricket, rounders and volleyball for the garden (request at reception)
- Board games
- Beach games e.g. beach cricket and pool toys to borrow
Kids Activities nearby:
- Camel rides on the beach
- Surfing and kitesurfing
- Horse riding
- Lunch with a local family (a 30-minute easy walk, or you can arrange to be dropped off)
Families Should Know:
The pools are unfenced and only heated to a small degree. There are some steep steps within the riads and the tiles beside the pools can get slippery. The property is gated so children cannot run into the (very quiet) road
- Airport: 15 minutes' drive (Essaouira)
- Hospital: 30 minutes' drive
- Shops: 5-10 minutes' walk