Villa de L'O

Essaouira & Atlantic Coast, Morocco Book from Book from £85 per night

An charming small hotel at the heart of Morocco’s funkiest coastal town - stunning roof-terrace views
Hidden behind the medina walls, right by the sea, this onetime almond storage depot is minutes from everything that lovely old Essaouira has to offer: idyllic white and pinkwashed houses, rolling dunes, a harbour, fish stalls and souks. Yet despite its central location it is blissfully tranquil.

The moment those huge bolted doors swing open to reveal an elegant 18th-century colonnaded patio and a cage of chirruping birds, you know you've arrived at a rare place. Behind lies a delectable French salon with carved fireplace; through intricately carved doors, a dining room with an intimate air. Follow tiered inner balconies up to comfortable, hugely handsome bedrooms and you’ll wish you'd booked for longer. The crowning glory is the expansive roof terrace, with views over ramparts, souks and kite surfers on the beach: a great spot for breakfast (don't miss the chocolate pastries), an afternoon nap on the loungers, or a cocktail at sunset.

Highs

  • A great location just within the medina walls, and easy to find
  • We loved the larger suites: comfortable and elegant, with eclectic retro furniture and details
  • On our 2018 revisit, we really enjoyed our generous breakfast on the roof terrace, overlooking the ramparts and sandy beach - the best view in town?
  • Delightful, ever-helpful staff

Lows

  • Interior-facing Unik Prestige Rooms can feel a bit dark
  • Decor is colonial rather than Moroccan
  • Other than breakfast you'll probably eat out (other meals are on request), but Essaouira's best eateries are within a short walk
  • Only 1 twin-bedded room, so non-couples should book early
  • Rooms are well-maintained, however we felt some common areas could do with a touch of TLC on our most recent visit

Best time to go

Spring and autumn (March-May and September-October) enjoy moderate temperatures of 20-30 celsius, but even in midsummer there is a cooling wind. There's a music festival in June (book well ahead) - and see the links below for dates of Ramadan (the month-long Muslim day-fast). Winter can also be a very great time to be in Essaouira: days are often sunny and mild and the light at this time of year has a unique quality.

Our top tips

The Gnaoua festival in June is a lively 4-day musical celebration of the descendants of Morocco's African slaves: unique chiming cymbals and string instruments complement trance-like vocals.

Great for...

Beach
City Style
Family
Honeymoon
Spa
  • Riad Hotel
  • 12
  • Breakfast and light meals (+ walk to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: Unik Prestige

Rooms

Dark wood, sober colours, cream walls and elegant cane furniture are all common to the immaculately conceived, colonial-themed rooms, all named with O. Sepia photographs, globes and vintage books tied with string add character, as do a stylish set of golf clubs in one room!

If you can stretch to it, book a Suite Unik Prestige - ours had a beach-view bathtub and another (Avelmor) has a stunning private roof terrace. Suite Unik rooms are spacious and light; Unik Prestige rooms are bit darker as they open onto the inner gallery - that said, high riad ceilings mean they feel airy enough and all rooms have air-conditioning. There are a handful of rooms suitable for families with a mezzanine floor with twin beds, too.

The bathrooms we saw were lovely, with bronze, ceramic or hardwood basins and bowls of spices in which shampoos and body lotions nestle; towels and bathrobes are suitably fluffy.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is served by lovely, smiley staff on the sunny roof terrace (or in the dining room or inner courtyard); working our way through fresh orange juice, croissants, yoghurt, chocolate cake, pancakes and plates of honey, jam and fig preserves was a lovely start to the day. The coffee is strong, Italian and very good, or there’s proper mint tea.

You can order other meals on request: we enjoyed a candle-lit dinner in the inner courtyard which featured the famous 7-vegetable couscous and chocolate mousse for dessert.

As far as eating out was concerned, we were pointed in the direction of Elizir for Moroccan-Mediterranean food amid quirky interiors and Chez Sam for the best fresh seafood in town, there's also Caravane Café if you fancy authentic local dishes with a side of live music. If nothing else, an impromptu lunch at one of the fish stalls on the harbourside is a must, as long as you choose your stall with care; a few coins will buy you a plate of seafood delivered by the boats that day, simply barbecued and eaten at communal tables.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Simple daytime menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Essaouira is well-known in the windsurfing fraternity for its strong winds and long sandy beach; or, if this is too passé for you, try kite-surfing
  • Wander down to the bustling fishing harbour where there are many covered stalls: a highlight of any visit to Essaouira. There are also art galleries, museums and city walls to be explored
  • Essaouira's souks are friendlier, cheaper and often better quality than those of Marrakech or Agadir - especially for wooden furniture and inlay products such as backgammon sets
  • Walk the beach as sunset approaches and the camel-ride vendors have gone home: be thrilled by crashing surf and the distant silhouette of tumbled ruins
  • The hotel can fix up packages to Essaouira's golf course on request
  • Pamper yourself in the Villa de L'O's hammam, you can also book a massage, manicure or pedicure using products by Moroccan brand leader Azbane

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Traditional cultures
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Families are welcome - parents with babies or toddlers are requested to check with the owners when booking. We stayed with kids during our 2018 revisit, and they very much liked having their own mezzanine floor in our very spacious Suite Unik (Odyssey). Staff were kind and helpful to the children.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

One of the Unik Prestige rooms (Orient) has a mezzanine level with space for 2 single beds, as does a Suite Unik (Odyssey) which can also take a baby cot. Four Suite Unik rooms can take an extra bed and a baby cot. All in the Suite Unik Prestige category can take a baby cot

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The beach
  • Exploring the souks
  • The fish market
  • Learning to kite- or wind-surf

Families Should Know:

There are a flight of stairs apiece to the first and second floors, and a roof terrace, which although fenced, we don't really recommend for toddlers

Distances:

  • Airport: 20 minutes
  • Shops: 3 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 2 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

We loved the Villa de l'O. Our room was very comfortable and had a view of the sea. We particularly enjoyed the roof where we had breakfast - a very good one - overlooking the sea. Everyone was pleasant and welcoming. Our evening meals in Chez Sam in the harbour were quite outstanding.

10/10,

We had such a fabulous stay.The room was huge and gorgeous with a vast bathroom. The staff were exceptional - nothing was too much trouble. From breakfast on the roof terrace to lighting a fire and candles for us at night, we loved it and will come back

10/10,

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Rates for Villa de L'O