Light, airy and stylish rooftop apartment with panoramic views of Essaouira's histoiric medina and the Atlantic Ocean.
On Morocco’s Atlantic coast, about 170 km west of Marrakech, is the delightful little town of Essaouira. With its romantic fortified medina (a UNESCO world heritage site), photogenic fishing port, French style piazzas, beautiful beaches, world class watersports, characterful restaurants, art galleries, music scene, easy-going people and excellent climate it is not hard to see why so many people have fallen in love with the place.
In the heart of the ancient medina, yet just 10 minutes walk from the beach, is Chez Rebecca - an exceptionally light and airy rooftop apartment. The apartment has plenty of space for open-air living, including a sheltered private terrace (perfect for a leisurely breakfast or lunch) and a large rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the medina and the Atlantic Ocean. This is shared by the two other Mogador apartments so is a great place to meet other people and possibly share a barbecue or glass of wine as the sun goes down.
The interior, which has recently been restored, is decorated mainly in the blue and white which is so characteristic of Essaouira. The bright and airy living room, which opens onto the private terrace, has a traditional open fireplace, bench seats and a dining table which can accommodate up to six people. It is also exceptionally well-equipped with ADSL internet television, DVD player and HiFi. There is even a WiFi connection for your laptop in case you need to catch up on work or simply want to surf the net, listen to your favourite radio station or check on the latest weather forecast.
The main bedroom has a double bed, a open fireplace and double doors which open onto the sunny private terrace. In the second bedroom (which doubles as an extra sitting room when there are only two occupants) there are two bed/settees and a window which opens onto the terrace. Unlike a dar or riad (courtyard house), Chez Rebeccas windows face the outside so you can go to sleep to the sound of Atlantic waves and wake up to blue skies and sunshine (most of the year!).
The bathroom has a large bath/shower made out of honey-coloured tadelakt (the pigmented polished plaster that is traditionally used for hammams). There are plenty of niches for candles or glasses of wine!
For eating, you are spoilt for choice. The food souks are just a stones throw away so you can buy super-fresh raw ingredients to cook in the well-equipped open plan kitchen. If you want to eat in but dont fancy cooking you can order in delicious home-cooked food - anything from breakfast to a traditional Moroccan meal or even a barbecue. But with numerous characterful and good value small restaurants within 10 minutes walk of the apartment you will probably want to eat out most of the time.
Regarded as one of the most beautiful towns on Africas Atlantic coast, Essaouira (ancient Mogador) has a unique charm. You get a feeling that life is easy here. People have time to talk - and listen - with an easy-going tolerance and friendliness born from centuries of mixing with people of other nations and cultures. Even the many stray cats and dogs seem to get on well with each other and their human neighbours. Yet alongside this relaxed, laid-back and slightly bohemian atmosphere there is a sense of sophistication and energy – the feeling that this is a happening place to be. The town is increasingly becoming known as a centre for arts, crafts and music and, each year, hosts several world class festivals and other events. With mild temperatures all year long and around 300 days sunshine a year it is a great place to visit at any time.
The atmospheric medina is a delight to walk around. It is clean, well laid out and safe, even at night. With no motorised transport allowed inside the walls your only risk of being run down is by one of the blue painted handcarts (krossas) that are used for transporting goods.
Designed in the mid 1700’s by a French architect commissioned by a visionary sultan, the medina is an intriguing fusion of French-style piazzas with traditional subterranean passages, vaulted alleys and courtyard houses. Its whitewashed buildings, with ornate doorways and windows painted blue to match the sky, are enclosed by intact pink fortifications. Not surprising then that, in 2001, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Although it is only a leisurely 10 minute walk from one end of the medina to the other it is so packed with fascinating architecture, artisans workshops, galleries, shops, restaurants and cafes that it would take weeks to discover everything. Shopping here tends to be an enjoyable and sociable experience with none of the hard-sell that is typical of other North African towns. You will find hundreds of tiny shops crammed with characterful leatherwork, metalwork, exquisite carpentry, glazed pottery, jewellery, brightly coloured carpets, original art and foodstuffs such as olives, spices and rare argan oil.
The hub of the town is Place Moulay Hassan, a French-style piazza where you can spend time people-watching in the sunshine whilst enjoying mint tea, excellent coffee or freshly squeezed orange juice accompanied by pastries from the nearby patisserie.
Opposite Place Moulay Hassan is the photogenic fishing harbour. Here you can watch the catch being unloaded from brightly-painted boats, learn how the vessels are made using centuries-old techniques or have lunch at one of the seafood stalls which serve wonderfully fresh fish and shellfish simply grilled over charcoal and served with a baguette and juicy tomato salad.
Listed as one of the world’s best beaches, Essaouira’s main beach is a wide crescent of golden sand which stretches for two miles from the medina to the former hippy village of Diabat. It is famed for its watersports which include world class surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. You can book lessons and equipment at several places along the main beach or take a caleche (horse-drawn taxi) out to the less crowded north beach.
If you dont fancy participating, why not sit at one of the numerous waterfront cafes or restaurants and enjoy watching the colourful watersports. There is also usually a game or two of football to watch, even at night when the whole beach is floodlit. Further along the beach, among the sand dunes, there are horses and camels for hire. Even further south, you can walk at low tide to the romantic fort of Borj El Barod which is slowly crumbling into the sea. Nearby you can watch birds at the Ksob estuary or else take a short boat trip to the Iles de Mogador, breeding ground for the rare Eleanora’s falcon which can sometimes be seen circling over the town.
The medina and beyond
The medina (walled town) is pedestrian only. Essaouira is quite a small town and everything is within walking distance of Chez Rebecca so a car is only necessary if you plan to take day trips to nearby beaches or beyond. There are several car hire agencies in town where it is possible to hire by the day. For watersports enthusiasts the beach at Sidi Kaouki is worth a visit. Marrakech, with its shopping and nightlife, is about two hours drive away. It is about two more hours drive to the Atlas mountains where you can enjoy spectacular scenery, hillwalking or even skiing.
We've been to Chez Rebecca twice. The first time was 5 years ago with youngish children. The recent time with teenagers. The flat is even better now.
If you're after a western hotel experience then go to one of the big modern hotels outside the medina. But if you want a comfortable more quirky right in the centre of the old bit of town then Chez Rebecca is excellent, plus the nice roof top area is virtually an extension of the flat.
The set up with Said meeting you (from the bus in our case) works very well.
The town is v interesting and is an antidote to UK suburbia.
Reply from Frances
Thank you for the lovely review, David. I'm so glad that you enjoyed your stay in Chez Rebecca again.
We, a family of four people (parents with teenage daughters) from Finland stayed here for almost a week and enjoyed our stay very much. The apartment met our expectations in every way and its position in the Medina was perfect, everything within walking distance. All personnel connected to the apartment and to our stay were great. Warm thanks to Said, manager of the apartment, who gave us very clear and useful information about living in the apartment and getting along in Essaouira, Kabor who cared for us by ligthing the fireplace every evening, Amina the most heartwarming person, and Saids brother, our driver between Agadir and Essaouira is a good driver and good company. Together all of them made us feel safe and warm welcome. The information folders at the apartment were very useful with valuable information about eating, what to do, where to go and how to meet the people in Essaouira and their culture. We warmly recommend both Chez Rebecca and Essaouira. Monika and family from Finland.
We were delighted with Chez Rebecca. It was a really relaxing and calm apartment - a place to chill after shopping in the medina. We enjoyed lovely views from the terrace. It rained one day (briefly) and the rainbows we saw were simply stunning. All the people we met were charming and helpful. A lovely comfortable place to stay. The visiting cat Hamachar was very friendly and made it feel like a home from home.
The property was a great base to explore the town and the private sun terrace was a great escape for a day away from it all. Our contact with the owners prior to our arrival and the information folder in the property was so useful and informative and we referred to the folder on a daily basis.
Our cleaner Amina was so friendly and did a fantastic job of keeping the place clean. The only critisicm was the bathroom did sometime smell a little of sewage but this can be part of life in Essaouira and was in no way a reflection of the cleanlines of the property, just a reflection of how undeveloped parts of Moroco can be, which is also part of Essaouiras charm.
I would definately recommend Chez Rebecca to anyone looking for a property in Essaouira and would like to thank the owners for a great stay.
If you want a real Moroccan experience away from anonymous Western hotels then this is the place to stay. High up in a house in a tiny alleyway in the traffic-free medina of Essaouira this apartment is a peaceful haven in the hub0-bib and constant fascination of the souls and market-places. In the summer this town is a tad windy - but that does keep the temperature down to a bearable 28degrees or so - and the private balcony is high-walled to keep the wind out.
We didn't have to worry about the safety of our two-year old on the prvate terrace or inside, and my fifteen-year old had plenty to do to keep him occupied in the town.
Fresh food is available yards away in the main street and the kitchen is well-equipped. Alternatively you can eat out - there is plenty of choice.
The maid, guardian and manager were excellent. Recommended
8 other reviews
"If you are lookng for a self catering apartment in Essaouira then Chez Rebecca will tick all the boxes"We have stayed in Chez Rebecca twice and will hopefully be back for a 3rd visit. The appartment is perfect for a small family with a private terrace great for breakfasts and a shared rooftop terrace with views over the medina and out to the atlantic, it is in a great spot deep in the old medina and the narrow street outside is full of life and gives you a real sense of moroccan culture. Both our visits have been over the christmas period so we have made the most of the traditional fireplace on chilly evenings. Submitted by Tim from Bristol (Trip Advisor, December 2009)
Had a fantastic stay at Chez Rebecca in Nov 2009, the weather was incredibly warm and we had surf lessons every morning for under 㾶 an hour (including gear hire.) We managed to eat our way round the Medina using the site restaurant guide and had the most incredible food. An evening meal at D'Orient et d'Aillieurs being the pick of the bunch. Incredibly relaxing stay, we will be back next year. Submitted by JNM from London (TripAdvisor, November 2009)
Personal feedback from a renter, 8 April 2008We did so enjoy our stay in your lovely apartment. So relaxing and peaceful. To fall asleep to the sound of waves was wonderful. Mr Bizbiz was most helpful and organised a grand day out in the countryside for us. The 'cleaning lady' – I never did learn her name – was cheerful and friendly. All in all the visit was a great success – if only it was nearer!!
From the Chez Rebecca guest book 8 January 2008"Chez Rebecca is a great little apartment. The close proximity to the food souks makes cooking for yourself from the Chez Rebecca recipe book a breeze! Thanks for a great stay"
From Trip Advisor 10 Oct 2006We had a lovely stay in the beautiful terrace apartment (there are 3 altogether). The facilities and services are fab...food you can order in at any time; a lovely guardian; friendly staff. We enjoyed a BBQ on the high terrace with some of the other guests from the other apartments in the house and had a great time. It felt as comfortable as being at home; there was cd player(with some cds) satellite tv..All in all, great value and i would definately return. Thanks Rebecca for such a lovely holiday.What did you like best about the accommodation? Stylish apartment with privacy but also servicesAny tips/secrets for future travellers? Have a bottle of wine on the terrace at sunset
From a Yahoo user 02/07/06Excellent everything. Keep heading back. Will get you all sorted - sports, trips, things to do, etc. Always recommend it to all. I always head back there every year.From a Yahoo user 12/21/05Last Visit:July 2005 Great for:Families, Students very comfortable apartment in the centre of the old town. Great to relax and unwind. The guardian Abdelatif was very helpful and helped us with everything. definitely would reccommend it!From a Yahoo user 12/07/06Last Visit:September 2006. Great for: Families, Singles, Students, Beds, Romance, Hip/Trendy Scenehad the most amazing stay in the terrace apartment (i think the actual house is called 'mogador apartments' and has 3 apartments altogether). What can i say? chilled out atmosphere, privacy combined with services. everyone cannot have been more helpful...like anything we requested happened! felt like we were in the best place in town and mixing with 'those in the know'. amazing rooftop where we barbequed with other guests staying in the other floors...bizbiz (in house dude) sorted us out for EVERYTHING!!! (such a sweetie; even invited us for a surf) it even had a few cds to listen to to introduce us to the ambience of this more than beautiful town! definately will return!!From a Yahoo! User from UK 09/26/06Last Visit:May 2006. Great for:Singles, Romance, Hip/Trendy SceneAmazing place in an amazing town. Worth checking out if you want a taste of Morocco away from chain hotels. Was made to feel welcome - a home from home!
Beautiful place to stay with the most perfect terrace view on the three beaches of essaouira and the old town, the services were excellent , and the food that you can order in perfect, if you are lucky enough you will meet the owner , a beautiful girl who always welcomes you with her famous dog called gypsy (who is happy enough to go for a walk with you if you like!), the terrace is a very good atmosphere because you can meet some very cool people for a drink and bbq every evening.
We will definately return! regards to Abdelatif, the extremely helpful house manager, kabor the amazing guardian, saadiya the cleaner and thanks rebecca for such a lovely place to have our holidays in.
This apartment was a delight to stay in...bright and airy, stylish and comfortable. Central location just next to all the shops....had many evenings relaxing on the terrace watching the sun go down over the rooftops of the town and sea...heavenly!