Morocco :: Essaouira

[trip style = urban + luxury]

Editor's Note: As Morocco Month comes to a close, we leave you with our final North African destination: Essaouira, an ancient and fortified city by the sea. For a look back at the rest of our Morocco series, see Casablanca,Savoring the SaharaLa Gazelle d'Or and hotels in Taroudant and a beauty lesson inargan oil.

The final hurrah in my Morocco itinerary pulled me back to shore from Taroudant by way of a four-hour, backcountry drive over grass-covered hills, past grazing goats, wineries, argan oil collectives and gas station-restaurants---a thing in Morocco (would you like a crêpe with your gas?).

Essaouira is a magic, moody place at the intersection of ancient and modern. Changing hands over centuries due to its strategic position on the Atlantic coast, there's a near-visible mystique that fills the air. At the same time, there's a playful spirit, given it's a beach town and popular weekend destination for the well-heeled from Marrakech.

Within the French-designed fortifications life teems with the energy of thousands of conversations and transactions. Outside the walls, a major fishing port gives way to a far-reaching beach decorated in dunes, kite-boarders and camels.

Every night after dinner, I'd retreat into the warmth and time-tested luxury of L'Heure Bleue Palais hotel, built into Essaouira’s medina walls. Feeling like I needed to match the old-school Africa allure---think: dark wood, mosaics, deep-red carpets, candlelight turndown---at cocktail hour I donned a draping blue dress and strolled past the palm-coated courtyard to the drink den, one of the most epic places I've ever sipped a spirit.

Accompanied by a tumbler of Jack Daniel’s and knowledge that the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley tested a tipple in the riad’s wood-paneled, leather-bound room, I came to the conclusion that Morocco has been luring luminaries since the Berbers walked through the Western Sahara some 5000 years ago.

Trip Styler Tip: When you go to Morocco, you'll hear the terms riad and dar a lot. The most simple way to decipher between these housing/hotel options is: A riad typically has a four-season garden and a fountain, a dar does not.

Photos

Visiting a women's again oil collective and learning to crush the kernel---which produces a peanut butter-consistency paste---with a granite spool. Find Assouss Argan producing organic and handmade products from argan shampoo to skin cream about 20 minutes outside of Essaouira.

Visiting a women's again oil collective and learning to crush the kernel---which produces a peanut butter-consistency paste---with a granite spool. Find Assouss Argan producing organic and handmade products from argan shampoo to skin cream about 20 minutes outside of Essaouira.

Heure Bleue Palais

Heure Bleue Palais

My room's safari-styled sitting space

My room's safari-styled sitting space

The drink den of ALL drink dens

The drink den of ALL drink dens

Fishing {then tourism} is Essaouira's largest industry

Fishing {then tourism} is Essaouira's largest industry

Port of Essaouira

Port of Essaouira

Age-old walls 

Age-old walls 

Souk

Souk

Fish market essaouira

Fish market essaouira

Meet James Bond. My sweet sunset ride.

Meet James Bond. My sweet sunset ride.

As you do in Morocco: Ride camels on the beach at sundown.

As you do in Morocco: Ride camels on the beach at sundown.

[photos by @tripstyler taken a guest of tourism morocco]