Whether you’re planning a pre-wedding getaway, or a quick escape straight after your big day, here’s a few reasons why you should visit Jardin des Douars in Morocco for a minimoon with a difference.
Minimoon Review: Jardin des Douars in Morocco
If you’re planning a trip to Morocco before or after your wedding day, you may think the most obvious destination is the country’s capital, Marrakech.
But while this thriving city has much to offer in the way of great hotels, amazing food and beautiful scenery, those couples hoping to wind down a little pre or post nuptials may be more in the market for somewhere a tad more relaxed.
A gorgeous, laidback alternative to Marrakech’s frantic, touristy hubbub, Essaouira is an enchanting, breezy hideaway situated on the North Atlantic coastline, where a laissez-faire approach to living feels totally standard among both locals and visitors.
The jewel in Essaouira’s crown, of course, is its finest hotel – Jardin des Douars – a haven that’s nestled within the region’s rolling hills, sheltered from the winds and enveloped by the most exquisite natural scenery.
Just a 15-minute drive from Essaouira’s airport (with a roughly four-hour flight from the UK), this rugged yet palatial hotel truly fulfils the cliché of ‘hidden gem’, secluded in location, yet lavish and homely once you pass beyond its walls.
There’s 11 different room categories to choose from here, spanning smaller ‘Relax Rooms’ for two, to the grand Royale Suite, with space for up to five.
We were thrilled to discover we’d be staying in the Douaria Suite on arrival, which – despite there only being two of us – has capacity for up to six, allowing more than enough room to settle in and get comfortable.
With its front-facing courtyard area, plus small garden and cosy living room, this Moroccan-style villa quickly became a home from home, set apart from the main building to allow plenty of privacy, yet close enough for us to access all the facilities with ease.
If you’re hoping for traditional Moroccan cuisine here at Jardin des Douars, you won’t be disappointed; tagines, couscous and shredded meats feature on the ‘Moroccan corner’ of the hotel’s dinner menu every single night.
Should you wish to mix things up, there’s a sublime fusion of Asian and Mediterranean dishes available in the evenings – from pasta to salmon and duck breast – not to mention a fantastic Beef Wellington (which I’ll happily admit I ordered twice, because I loved it so much).
Lunches here are light and flavoursome – fish features heavily – and the hotel also offers a barbecue buffet on Sundays, where you can feast on tender smoked meats and vegetables alfresco, plus plentiful salads, pastas and breads.
Perfect for couples, Jardin des Douars also offers guests access to a cosy adults-only dining space just a stone’s throw from its main restaurant – should you wish for a more peaceful evening meal.
Of the two enormous outdoor pools, the jade-coloured infinity pool for adults is a dreamy spot to while away a hot, sunny afternoon; we adored sipping piña coladas in 25-degree heat, books in hand and sunglasses firmly on.
There’s also a separate swimming pool for families, so you needn’t worry about being disturbed either.
What came as a huge – and very welcome – surprise was the hammam, where I spent an hour or so being scrubbed, washed and replenished by the hotel’s incredible spa therapists. Book yourself in for a body wrap and hair treatment, and you’ll leave feeling truly rejuvenated.
Out and about?
You’ll find, as we did, that Jardin des Douars is so comfortable and welcoming that you’ll almost lack the motivation to venture out and explore Essaouria itself.
It’s definitely worth the short journey into town, however, and the hotel offers reasonably priced transfers into the centre several times throughout the day – simply enquire at reception to find out exact timings. Also bear in mind that the coastline is pretty windy, and ladies may want to wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees.
Once you’re there, start with the bright blue-and-white medina (the inner-walled city), an UNESCO World Heritage site that’s filled with linked streets, tiny passageways and hundreds of shops and stalls.
The views from the top of Essaouira’s cliff-top sea bastion, Skala de la Ville, are simply unmissable (particularly for Game of Thrones fans), so be sure to take a romantic stroll atop its 20-metre walkway, ideally as the sun is setting.
Eating out? We stopped by La Coupole, a superb lunch spot on the beach that offered a varied menu of French of Mediterranean cuisine, plus a handful of Moroccan delicacies.
To find out more and book your stay at Jardin des Douars in Morocco, visit jardindesdouars.com